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Old 07-14-2002, 07:57 PM   #1
Lee

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What do all of those acronyms mean?

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1.1 What do all of those acronyms mean? [JSC]
A is for amperes, which is a measurement of current equal to one coulomb of charge per second. You usually speak of positive current - current which flows from the more positive potential to the more negative potential, with respect to some reference point (usually ground, which is designated as zero potential). The electrons in a circuit flow in the opposite direction as the current itself. Ampere is commonly abbreviated as "amp", not to be confused with amplifiers, of course, which are also commonly abbreviated "amp". In computation, the abbreviation for amps is commonly "I".

V is for volts, which is a measurement of electric potential. Voltages don[/b]t "go" or "move", they simply exist as a measurement (like saying that there is one mile between you and some other point).

DC is for direct current, which is a type of circuit. In a DC circuit, all of the current always flows in one direction, and so it is important to understand which points are at a high potential and which points are at a low potential. For example, cars are typically 12VDC (twelve volts direct current) systems, and it is important to keep track of which wires in a circuit are attached to the +12V (positive twelve volts) lead of the battery, and which wires are attached to the ground (or "negative") lead of the battery. In reality, car batteries tend to have a potential difference of slightly higher than 12V, and the charging system can produce upwards of 14.5V when the engine is running.

AC is for alternating current, which is a type of circuit in which the voltage potential fluctuates so that current can flow in either direction through the circuit. In an AC circuit, it is typically not as important to keep track of which lead is which, which is why you can plug household appliances into an outlet the "wrong way" and still have a functioning device. The speaker portions of an audio system comprise an AC circuit. In certain situations, it is indeed important to understand which lead is "positive" and which lead is "negative" (although these are just reference terms and not technically correct). See below for examples. The voltage of an AC circuit is usually given as the RMS (root mean square) voltage, which, for sinusoidal waves, is simply the peak voltage divided by the square root of two.

W is for watts, a measurement of electrical power. One watt is equal to one volt times one amp, or one joule of energy per second. In a DC circuit, the power is calculated as the voltage times the current (P=V x I). In an AC circuit, the RMS power is calculated as the RMS voltage times the RMS current (Prms=Vrms x Irms).

Hz is for hertz, a measurement of frequency. One hertz is equal to one inverse second (1/s); that is, one cycle per second, where a cycle is the duration between similar portions of a wave (between two peaks, for instance). Frequency can describe both electrical circuits and sound waves, and sometimes both. For example, if an electrical signal in a speaker circuit is going through one thousand cycles per second (1000Hz, or 1kHz), the speaker will resonate at 1kHz, producing a 1kHz sound wave. The standard range of human hearing is "twenty to twenty", or 20Hz-20kHz, which is three decades (three tenfold changes in frequency) or a little under ten octaves (ten twofold changes in frequency).

dB is for decibel, and is a measurement for power ratios. To measure dB, you must always measure with respect to something else. The formula for determining these ratios is P=10^(dB/10), which can be rewritten as dB=10log(P). For example, to gain 3dB of output compared to your current output, you must change your current power by a factor of 10^(3/10) = 10^0.3 = 2.00 (that is, double your power). The other way around, if you triple your power (say, from 20W to 60W) and want to know the corresponding change in dB, it is dB=10log(60/20)=4.77 (that is, an increase of 4.77dB). If you know your logarithms, you know that a negative number simply inverts your answer, so that 3dB corresponding to double power is the same as -3dB corresponding to half power. There are several other dB formulas; for instance, the voltage measurement is dB=20log(V). For example, a doubling of voltage produces 20log2 = 6.0dB more output, which makes sense since power is proportional to the square of voltage, so a doubling in voltage produces a quadrupling in power.

SPL is for sound pressure level and is similar to dB. SPL measurements are also ratios, but are always measured relative to a constant. This constant is 0dB which is defined as the smallest level of sound pressure that the human ear can detect. 0dB is equal to 10^-12 (ten to the negative twelfth power) W/m^2 (watts per square meter). As such, when a speaker is rated to produce 92dB at 1m when given 1W (92dB/Wm), you know that they mean that it is 92dB louder than 10^-12W/m^2. You also know than if you double the power (from 1W to 2W), you add 3dB, so it will produce 95dB at 1m with 2W, 98dB at 1m with 4W, 101dB at 1m with 8W, etc.

THD is for total harmonic distortion, and is a measure of the how much a certain device may distort a signal. These figures are usually given as percentages. It is believed that THD figures below approximately 0.1% are inaudible. However, it should be realized that distortion adds, so that if a head unit, equalizer, signal processor, crossover, amplifier and speaker are all rated at "no greater than 0.1%THD", together, they could produce 0.6%THD, which could be noticeable in the output.

An Ohm is a measure of resistance and impedance, which tells you how much a device will resist the flow of current in a circuit. For example, if the same signal at the same voltage is sent into two speakers - one of which is nominally rated at 4 ohms of impedance, the other at 8 ohms impedance - twice as much current will flow through the 4 ohm speaker as the 8 ohm speaker, which requires twice as much power, since power is proportional to current.
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Old 02-15-2004, 07:54 AM   #2
Lee

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Old 02-15-2004, 07:56 AM   #3
Mark Zarella

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"W is for watts, a measurement of electrical power. One watt is equal to one volt times one amp, or one joule of energy per second. In a DC circuit, the power is calculated as the voltage times the current (P=V x I). In an AC circuit, the RMS power is calculated as the RMS voltage times the RMS current (Prms=Vrms x Irms)."

**What's quoted above is not "RMS power", but rather "average power". "RMS power" is something entirely different, and in fact has no relevance to anything in audio.

"dB is for decibel, and is a measurement for power ratios. To measure dB, you must always measure with respect to something else. The formula for determining these ratios is P=10^(dB/10), which can be rewritten as dB=10log(P). For example, to gain 3dB of output compared to your current output, you must change your current power by a factor of 10^(3/10) = 10^0.3 = 2.00 (that is, double your power). The other way around, if you triple your power (say, from 20W to 60W) and want to know the corresponding change in dB, it is dB=10log(60/20)=4.77 (that is, an increase of 4.77dB). If you know your logarithms, you know that a negative number simply inverts your answer, so that 3dB corresponding to double power is the same as -3dB corresponding to half power. There are several other dB formulas; for instance, the voltage measurement is dB=20log(V). For example, a doubling of voltage produces 20log2 = 6.0dB more output, which makes sense since power is proportional to the square of voltage, so a doubling in voltage produces a quadrupling in power."

**What a convoluted explanation!

"SPL is for sound pressure level and is similar to dB. SPL measurements are also ratios, but are always measured relative to a constant. This constant is 0dB which is defined as the smallest level of sound pressure that the human ear can detect. 0dB is equal to 10^-12 (ten to the negative twelfth power) W/m^2 (watts per square meter). As such, when a speaker is rated to produce 92dB at 1m when given 1W (92dB/Wm), you know that they mean that it is 92dB louder than 10^-12W/m^2. You also know than if you double the power (from 1W to 2W), you add 3dB, so it will produce 95dB at 1m with 2W, 98dB at 1m with 4W, 101dB at 1m with 8W, etc."

**SPL is not "similar to dB". That line should be removed. The "constant" needs to be redefined. Test frequency should also be introduced here to describe these sensitivity measurements.

"THD is for total harmonic distortion, and is a measure of the how much a certain device may distort a signal. These figures are usually given as percentages. It is believed that THD figures below approximately 0.1% are inaudible. However, it should be realized that distortion adds, so that if a head unit, equalizer, signal processor, crossover, amplifier and speaker are all rated at "no greater than 0.1%THD", together, they could produce 0.6%THD, which could be noticeable in the output."

**That 0.1% number is rubbish. It should be removed. Though a discussion of threshold is warranted.
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Old 02-15-2004, 09:46 AM   #4
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Suggestion: change section name from acronyms to abreviations.
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