Home Theater Reviews - Understanding the Jargon

Jargon Buster

Home theater reviews

Reading home theater reviews, whether on the Internet or in trade magazines, is a great way of getting the low-down on which home theater systems are best value and best for your needs. However, sometimes the reviews are so packed full of jargon and abbreviations that reading them is like wading through alphabet soup. This page is a guide to some of the terms most commonly used in home theater reviews.

A/V: audio/visual or audio/video.

Crossover: a piece of equipment that divides up an audio signal by frequency. For example, it might send low frequencies to the woofer and high frequencies to the tweeter.

Dolby: one of the most important companies in the field of surround sound.

Dongle: a piece of hardware that lets you use copy-protected software.

DSS: Digital Satellite Service. Some people call it DBS (short for Direct Broadcast Satellite). DSS can also stand for Digital Signature Standard, but it’s usually obvious from the context which is meant.

DTS: Digital Theater Systems or Digital Theater Sound. The company Digital Theater Systems have created a digital sound recording format to compete with Dolby.

Interconnect: a cable used for a short run.

MSRP: Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price.

Night mode: a mode, available on many home theaters, that lets you watch a movie without disturbing others too much. It makes the loud parts quieter and the quiet parts louder, so you can hear quiet dialogue without having to turn the volume down for loud fight scenes.

Peripheral: a computer device that is not part of the essential computer. It could be anything from a keyboard to a games console. It might sound like an adjective, but home theater reviews regularly use it as a noun.

RPTV: rear-projection TV. Explained more fully in our page on projectors.

S-Video: separated video. An S-Video connection separates the color data from the brightness data (luma and chroma). This gives a clearer picture than you would get with standard (composite) video.

SACD: Super-Audio Compact Disc. A format offering surround sound in addition to regular stereo sound.

Short run: a connection between two home theater components that are placed near each other.

Stereo: a form of sound reproduction with two channels.

Subwoofer: a speaker that is designed to produce very low bass frequencies (usually between 45Hz and 125Hz).

Tweeter: a speaker that is designed to produce treble frequencies.

White-glove installation: a process whereby your system is installed in your home to your specifications by experts.

Woofer: a speaker that is designed to produce bass frequencies.

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