Glossary of PA Terms - K
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The glossary pages provide definitions for over 2680 PA-related terms. If you can't find the term you are looking for, or would like any of the existing definitions to be expanded, please email me − likewise of course if you find any errors in the links etc. Use of this information is conditional upon acceptance of the Disclaimer on the PAforMusic home page.
In the list below, the most commonly looked-up terms are in bold, lighting-specific terms are in pink, and video-specific terms are in orange.
The definitions for these terms are given on the assumption of their use in the context of PA systems; many of the terms have more general meanings when used in a wider context. Where more than one definition is given for a term, the definitions are numbered (1), (2) etc.
Some of the definitions themselves use terms (such as "signal") in a specific way − most of these are links (just the first time they are used, in each definition), so just click on them to see the meanings that are intended.
A deprecated slang term for an IEC 320 mains connector. The term is mostly used by non-technical staff, and arose because a similar type of connector is used for the mains connection to some domestic kettles. However, note that there are several variants of IEC 320 connector; the variant referred to is most usually the 'standard' C13/C14 one, not one of the hot condition types typically used with kettles. For further information see IEC 320.
A deprecated slang term for a mains cable that is fitted with an IEC 320 connector at one end and a normal mains plug at the other end. The term is mostly used by non-technical staff, and arose because a similar type of cable is used for the mains supply to some domestic kettles. However, note that there are several variants of IEC 320 connector; the variant referred to is most usually the 'standard' C13/C14 one, not one of the hot condition types typically used with kettles. For further information see IEC 320. See also BS 1363A connector.
The process of triggering, activating, or otherwise controlling the function or operation of an item of equipment, especially an effects unit. The term is most often used when the source of the keying signal is external to the equipment being keyed, and is applied via a separate 'Key' input. The side chain input of a dynamics processor such as a compressor or noise gate is sometimes referred to as a 'Key' input.
The key of a piece of music determines the pitches of the particular set of musical notes that are used for playing or singing it. An octave contains 12 different notes (each one a semitone higher than the previous one), but for most pieces of music only 7 of these notes are used, forming a musical scale. The key defines which 7 of the 12 notes are used in the scale. The key chosen for a particular piece is usually selected to suit the vocal range of the vocalist(s), to suit the capabilities of particular instruments (or their players) or to enable one song to be best blended or segued with another. Changing the key of a song will shift the pitch of all the notes used by the same amount, so the whole piece be corresponding shifted in pitch. Some alteration to the EQ settings of some sources may then be required, e.g. in order to accommodate lower bass notes or different harmonic content.
A general term for any musical instrument that is equipped with a fixed, horizontal, keyboard as the means of playing it. This includes the acoustic piano, the electric or electronic piano, and any kind of so-equipped instrument that creates its sounds electronically (e.g. a synthesiser) or that sends electronic commands (usually MIDI commands) to one or more sound generators. However, when a band includes an acoustic or electric/electronic piano as well as another electronic keyboard, it is common to refer to the piano as a 'piano' in order to distinguish it from the other keyboard(s).
A facility of computer display equipment, allowing adjustments to be made to compensate for the particular type of image distortion that occurs when the beam from a projector hits a vertical surface at an angle other than 90º. When the projector is located lower than the centre of the screen, the effect of this distortion is to make the upper edge of the image wider than its lower edge. It is named from its visual similarity to the block at the apex of a stone archway, which is called a keystone.
Note that if the projector is located higher than the centre of the screen (which most often happens when the projector is ceiling-mounted), then the keystone effect will be 'upside down' − i.e. the lower edge of the image is wider than the top − but the same name is still given to it.
More sophisticated projectors also include the facility to correct for left-right keystone distortion, which occurs when the projector is located to the left or right of the screen centre.
A thousand ohms.
An abbreviation for 'drum kit'.
A slang term for equipment, especially a complete set of equipment. See also Gear.
In a compressor, the point of transition between the inactive (i.e. below the threshold level) and active states. A sharp transition is referred to as a hard knee, and a smoothed transition as a soft knee (or 'over-easy').
A registered brand name for cable connectivity products and other related items, now part of the Commscope group. It is most commonly used to refer to groups of insulation displacement cable terminations, such as are often used on patchbays for audio and computer networking applications. The name Knone has to some extent become a generic term for such connection blocks, regardless of their manufacturer. Krone, originally a separate company, have been part of the ADC company since 2004. See the Commscope website at commscope.com/adc-krone (external link, opens in a new window).
There are no more definitions on this page. (The space below is to facilitate linking to the last few terms above.)
This page last updated 25-Aug-2019.