Jargon and lingo glossary - Ba to Bh.

Jargon and lingo glossary - Ba to Bh.

Baby Grand
A grand piano that is 170 cm long or less, Japanese baby grands can be under 150 cm but that is uncommon with western pianos.

Pro-audio/video slang, a babysitter is 1) a faux expert trained by the manufacturers of high end equipment to handhold users via the telephone/internet where a real expert would be far too expensive or 2) a salesman dressed up as an executive that handles a similar role in regards to the management of companies that have bought products or service from you, the customers that fall for this are known as having been “baby-sat”. Or 3), a piece of software/hardware whose function is to automatically monitor other equipment or people.

Badge engineering
USA English idiom taken from the automotive industry, most commonly used for 1) OEM devices where the same unit is on the market under a variety of fascia’s and badges from different manufacturers, this was especially prevalent for a time in the 80’s when you for example got the same receiver marked Harman Kardon or NAD that looked different but was internally identical and in fact some classes of hi-fi devices such as Cassette recorders and receivers were only manufactured by a small number of manufacturers who then badged them under a variety of names, this was more prevalent in the North American market for some reason and a number of companies such as aforementioned NAD had OEM sourced models on the NA market that they did not sell in the rest of the world. In this case the usage of the term is a bit dissimilar to the usage of the automotive term as that in the CE world the units are all made by the same maker but sold by different outfits and thus the “badge engineering” is more of a product line-up expansion exercise by the brand owner.

But the term is also used in its original meaning, 2) artificial product differentiation but in the case of the USA car industry where the term originates the big 3 local carmakers frequently sell the same product under different brands with different marketing strategies. For instance General Motors would sell the exact same car under the names Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Oldsmobile and Pontiac, the difference would lie in the badge, colour options and trim, and in some cases GM would also offer different engine options, this is nota bene not to be confused with platform sharing as you see in European and Japanese cars, these were not related models but for all intents and purposes identical cars that were sold as Middle class (Buick), Luxury cars (Cadillac), Cheap and reliable (Chverolet), Conservative and dependable (Oldsmobile) and Young & sporty (Pontiac).

This sort of malarkey is not very common in the hi-fi industry but is not unknown in other sectors of the audio business and especially the pro-audio and car audio wings. An old example of badge engineering in this meaning of the term would be the sales of Soundblaster cards in the 90’s by Creative Technology but at one point in time the company had 3 identical cards available under the SB16 AWE (aka AWE Value), SB32 and SB32 AWE all in different price classes and in addition offered the electrically identical SB64 AWE that had slightly different memory and audio connectors and sold at a premium price but performed identically to the cheaper models.

Bakelite = Phenol formaldehyde
Or rather compounds that use phenol as a sole or main binding agent, filler is usually wood pulp of some sort but can be a wide variety of organic or mineral materials. Bakelite was originally a trade name in the 19th century for a specific compound but became a generic term later on for any phenol based compounds except in Germany where Bakelite remained a specific term and Kunstharz the generic.

Popular for a time as a binding agent used in 78 Rpm. records where it was used not as a primary binder but to reduce the need for Shellac which is a natural substance and had a tendency to vary somewhat in price and availability with market fluctuations and the intervention of world wars etc. Became very popular in the early 1920's in the brown goods business since it could easily be mass manufactured in any shape or form via the use of moulds and heat curing, while being sufficiently strong to be used in these applications (browngoods are typically not handled much), is cheaper than woods or metals that need to be machined and can be dyed which is cheaper than painting the bloody thing, as such it is a predecessor to plastic as far as usage is concerned.

Bakelite can get a bit brittle with age especially if it experiences direct sunlight during its lifetime and while hard, it is not as strong as modern plastics but is chemically stable so the expected lifetime of Bakelite housings is typically longer than that of many of the materials that replaced it, and although it can react with some filler materials, that eventuality is very rare. In other words there is no need to treat them in order to prolong its life, Bakelite can absorb moisture if it experiences prolonged immersion, but drying it thoroughly will cure that. The surface gets slightly uneven in the heat curing process and the often rough fillers that were used to cut costs also added to this effect which gives it a more organic feel than what we have come accustomed to from other moulded resins (modern plastics are usually almost pure plasticines, i.e. no "filler" per se, only stabilisers, dyes etc.) and it is still occasionally used by manufacturers that have been using the material for a long time but there are few enough of them to make it's modern usage something of a novelty.

Balanced Ternary See --> Ternary

BBD = Bucket Brigade Delay

An electronic chip usually referred to as a BBD, originally designed in the late 60's to allow small time delays on computer system peripherals such as disk drives etc., a BBD chip is a collection of tiny capacitors, at the least 512 of them, that creates a delay by passing the input voltage serially through the capacitors and since each capacitor takes a minute amount of time to charge the voltage you get at the output end arrives a few milliseconds after the input.

As this was a much cheaper and more reliable method of creating time delays than what had been previously used in the audio industry (typically tape, charged coils or even acoustic apparatus) these devices became popular in the 70's, primarily as generators of time modulation effects for musicians but also saw some use in crossovers and other audio reproduction applications.

It was never really popular though since creating a quality delay line was difficult (but not impossible) and while cheaper than electromechanical methods of creating a delay this technique was still more expensive than the op-amps and discrete transistors even if it gave longer potential delay times, there was a tendency amongst designers to clock the devices slowly to gain a longer delay rather than to add another BBD chip as a cost saving exercise which resulted in a lower sound quality.

A BBD chip is sometimes called half digital/half analogue because the output waveform looks stepped on one axis and analogue on the other but this is just a by-product of the clocking, there is no encoding of a signal inside a BBD chip.

The last manufacturer of generic audio and computer grade devices stopped manufacturing them in the mid 90's and although the technology is still used in some specialised IC's for voice recording applications it has in most instances been replaced by digital technology, more recently though a division of Behringer called Coolaudio has bought the rights to the most popular type of such chips and has made them available again in a CMOS version, this had lead to the reintroduction of BBD based guitar pedals that perform delay or time modulation based sound processing.

BeNeLux = Belgium, Nederland (Holland) and Luxembourgh./BeLux = Belgium & Luxembourgh
Common shortenig for the countries that are sometimes referred to as the European Lowlands, since these countries are relatively small both in population and in size it is as common as not to see distribution being handled for them collectively rather than individually. Rarer is the term BeLux that is a shortening of Belgium and Luxemburgh.

Be = Beryllium
A very light, highly toxic rare earth metal only found naturally as a combination in minerals, particularly gemstones. Its extreme hardness and high melting point make is unique amongst light metals and for this reason it is often used to alloy with other metals to make them more rigid.

The rigidity and the unusually high sound conduction speeds (about 13km per second) that come with it meant that it is a tempting material to use in transducers and we sometimes see them used as such in audio products, usually in tiny amounts and in particular in loudspeaker tweeters and in the cantilevers of gramophone pickups, in most cases as an alloy although the use of pure Be is known. The expense of fabricating products out to the material is really what has kept its usage down, Yamaha Corp. pioneered the use of the material in transducers, but they already had a workshop capable of working with Beryllium for their racing division.

Better known in the audio world is the Beryllium-Copper alloy, this is basically copper with a small amount of Beryllium alloyed with it, no more than 3 to 4% of the blend is Beryllium and usually it is much less, this is then heat-treated to increase its strength and conductivity. This alloy has some interesting properties, it is easy to work with but after hardening becomes very rigid with a high sound conduction speed and a good electrical conductor so it is commonly used in some specialised transducers

But Beryllium-Copper is also used in industry due to lack of spark generation and its tendency to harden with age, it is used for contact points in high vacuum tanks that are used for plasma coating with gasses and so on, for the same reason you will sometimes find hand tools made out of BC.

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The site was last compiled on Sun Nov 10 2013 at 9:15:00am