SoC = System On a Chip Simply an IC that includes a processing core (e.g. a microprocessor of some sort) and all other logic needed to construct a working system integrated into the chip with the processing core excluding memory. In the case of a computer SoC it would have a processor, communication and expansion busses alongside at the least the basic needed I/O like video and mass media controllers like IDE and USB. A media player SoC would be similar but feature media decoders and no bus interfaces etc. What differentiates a SoC from a microcontroller is that the latter is usually completely self-contained with having all or most memory needed on board and that they seldom have fully specified I/O.
Soundbar An elongated strip intended to be hung beneath televisions that contains loudspeakers and amplifiers to drive them, is intended as a minimalist replacement for a home theatre audio system especially where people do not want speakers as part of the décor and some models feature synthesised surround sound capabilities. As the small size of the soundbar means that accurate bass reproduction is not possible it is common to see them come with either a subwoofer or feature electronic bass enhancement. It is getting quite common for soundbars to feature multimedia player docking systems as well.
Sound Reinforcement Traditionally this term was used for exactly what it states, i.e. the amplification of audio signals in a "live" situation, be that a sound system for a live concert or a theatre of any sort, or a Public Announcement type system etc. In the last few decades the usage of the term has expanded to include most sound installations both permanent and portable, and in practice covers almost any type of sound system installation except those used in homes and recording studios.
S/PDIF = Sony/Philips Digital Interface A serial digital audio interface cooked up by Sony and Philips when they were designing the Compact Disc, it only offers basic transfers of an audio signal with no provision for synchronisation or error correction (will need an external Wordclock for sync capability) and thus is prone to problem such as Jitter.
The standard provides for transfers using an coaxial cable terminating in a common RCA connector but Toshiba introduced an optical variant called simply Toshiba Link or more commonly TOSLINK that uses an optical glass fibre cable as a medium, while theoretically the optical option should be the better choice the coaxial variant gives better results in real life situations for a variety of reasons, however since the Toslink variant electrically isolates the devices from one another it is often a better choice in complex systems that suffer from ground loops and other related problems.
TOSLINK is sometimes referred to as an AT&T or ATT interface but in actuality that is just the name of the connector itself which in turn is named after its inventor American Telephone & Telegraph, and this name should not be used to denote the interface. Not to be confused with SDIF, another digital audio interconnection standard.
There is no hard definition of the bit width of S/PDIF due to legacy issues but most older devices only understand 16 bit @ 44.1kHz signals although understanding of 48kHz signals in not uncommon in converters built after 1990 (due to DAT) and the capacity to understand 20 bit wide signals is expected in later variants of the standard, larger word widths are very rare but possible. S/PDIF is also not a consumer variant of AES/EBU as is frequently stated, it predates it by a number of years, i.e. the AES/EBU standard is a derivative of S/PDIF, some people diffrenciate between pre-standard and post standard by using S-PDIF for the pre-standard and S/PDIF for devices that conform to the IEC standard, but that is frankly confusing for most people.
Special On input selectors : This is a synonym for AUX. On cassette recorders : This denotes eq and/or bias settings for chromium tape formulations, particularly on early Japanese cassette recorders. Audiophile slang : Used in the UK in the 80's and into the early 90's to denote hi-fi equipment bought from magazine reviewers, i.e. the equipment that manufacturers had given reviewers or handed on "extended loan" with the aim of getting a more favourable review than would otherwise been had, but the term was also sometimes used for the resulting biased article. The usage has more or less disappeared with the practice but the advent of the Internet and greater interest in AV than hi-fi means the role of magazines in punters buying decision process has diminished greatly and thus the incentive to grease the wheels. Never seen this usage in print except for some old Usenet articles.
Spread-Spectrum A radio broadcasting technique whereby the signal energy is spread over a range of carrier frequencies rather than a single carrier, this technique uses much less energy pr. information unit than if a traditional carrier method is used.
Squawker = Midrange driver A term for a midrange or an upper midrange driver in a multi loudspeaker cabin or setup, or an intercom and PA loudspeaker, this word is only used in the USA and not much these days. The word squawker has a broader meaning in American English than it has in normal English, one of the meanings is similar to the UK word whinger and was used colloquially to cover intercom system loudspeakers. The intercom systems usually where single drivers with a range limited to what is needed to make a human voice intelligible and those drivers have superficial similarities to a midrange speaker in a classic 3 way setup, such as those commonly used in movie theaters around the USA at the time so the name stuck.
Stereo = Stereophony Any audio system that attempts to give directional information or appear to do so, or in other words the opposite to Mono and not a term that is to be specifically applied to 2 channel systems only. While this term covers 2 dimensional system like the familiar Binaural systems and the various multichannel and Matrix systems commonly referred to as surround sound systems, it is debatable if the term covers 3D systems such as 4 channel Ambisonics or the "Tomita Quad" systems and it was not the intention of the people that coined the term. Common usage/slang : As a synonym for a music system and in the 60's as a synonym for hi-fi.
Student Amplifier European audiophile slang from the 70's and 80's, a student amp is a plain looking, fairly cheap integrated amplifier with some audiophile pretensions and a built in resettable speaker protection fuse, the fuse was what actually lead to the nickname but this feature was deemed necessary so that intoxicated or otherwise mentally incapable party animals (e.g. students) would not damage their loudspeakers, but at the time the average price of a loudspeaker was in real terms much higher than it is now making a defunct speaker something of a minor financial blow.
Regarding the origins of the terms it must be understood that in Europe high schools and universities are not seen primarily as educational institutions, but more as social institutions where you temporarily store people in their late teens in the hope that keeping them in one place will minimise the damage they will inflict on society, so the word "Student" conjures up a mental picture of someone running down the street naked with a bottle of Sangrine in one hand, rather than one of a serious person with their head sunk in the collected works of Jung (perish the thought). The built in speaker protection made these units popular with the small recording studios of the early 80's as well, but the student amp also gained a reputation for sounding thin and reedy, in particular the British examples, this was no problem for their intended market however, but at the time students were largely listening to Sade, the Smiths and other music with very limited dynamic, emotional and frequency ranges.
Subcontractor Subcontractor is a service company or that designs or manufactures items for a manufacturing or sales entity or performs some sort of service for said entity. This is different from an OEM or ODM since a subcontractor is performing a service and thus has no intellectual rights to the products.
Subtractive Synthesiser A type of electronic musical instrument that creates sounds out of component structures but has a filter of some sort at the end of the signal path. This type of instrument harks back to the Trautonium of the 1920’s but became the most used architecture in synthesisers after German engineer Harald Bode published papers on subtractive signal processing and modular synthesisers in the USA in the latter half of the 1950’s and early 60’s, all the USA commercial manufacturer of synthesisers modelled their instruments on that paper and the bulk of the European ones as well.
By the mid 70’s this had become entrenched as the model for the synthesiser and by the latter half of the 80’s even most digital synthesisers had a subtractive architecture but attempts at selling different concepts such as FM by Yamaha Corp., Phase Distortion by Casio and additive synthesis by Kawai had after an initial burst of interest run up against near complete lack of user and industry understanding of the concepts. The model is so integrated into the psyche of contemporary electronic musicians that types of instruments that are not subtractive by default like modular synthesisers are invariably used as such.
Superchip (Legacy I/O Controller) A computer chip designed for IBM PC systems that combines the functions of a floppy controller, serial and parallel interface interfaces into one chip that interfaces to an XT bus. These chips originate in the early 1990's and at that time were most often seen on AT Bus (ISA) cards that also had a an ATA (IDE) controller but when PCI and other local bus computer chipsets started to arrive these where then integrated onto the motherboard and the ATA feature was dropped from the spec sheet since it is much better served by a local bus. The functions provided by the superchip have never been integrated into motherboard chipsets since they are considered "legacy", Intel and others had advocated the replacement of those interfaces as early as 1994 with USB but almost all motherboards sold actually include a superchip hooked up to the main chipset so there has been a continuous demand for them. All of them are very similar and usually pin compatible with each other and have not changed function wise for more than 15 years, the so called "legacy free" PC compatibles are simply the same as standard ones minus a superchip.
Supertweeters Basically a tweeter that not only will operate with frequencies well above the audible range but will do so with a reasonable linearity. Research into psychoacoustics in the recent years has shown that despite being unable to hear frequencies in the 25 to 40KHz range directly, most humans find loudspeaker systems with tweeters capable of operating in that range to be audibly better that those with normal tweeters that only go up to 25k or less, a fact that has not bypassed high end loudspeaker manufacturers in search of new gimmicks, dogs love this development of course. Not to be confused with piezoelectric tweeters that were sometimes called supertweeters when they were introduced in the 60's, such types can operate in this part of the spectrum but they were not designed with that application in mind and thus aren't usually very good at it.
Surround Sound A synonym for stereo eg. any 2 dimensional audio system that gives the effect of "surrounding" you with an audio signal rather than come from a single source, it is often used for marketing purposes to differentiate multichannel or Matrix stereo systems from traditional Binaural ones.
Sympathetic resonators An acoustic device of some sort that will vibrate (i.e. generate sound) in response to an secondary acoustic or vibrational stimulus rather than from a direct or primary mechanical/electric stimulus. In Hi-Fi we most often see this used in the “sympathetic loudspeaker”, a passive bass diver that has no magnetic motor but rather responds to another loudspeaker driver that has a motor, this sometimes works small wonders in the bass response of cheap speakers especially if they are ported and have a reasonable baffle volume.
In musical instruments these are most often strings but can be reeds as well, in some types of harp guitars for instance there are strings that are seldom played but add to the sound and some rarer designs have strings that are not meant to be played at all, they are then extremely thin and often grouped closely together unlike standard guitar harp strings that are usually pitched together similarly to the guitar strings. Some wheel fiddles have sympathetic strings in addition to the drone strings to thicken the sound and some drums have as well the best known example of this is the snare wire in snare drums.