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Dictionary of Audio Terminology - K


K - The symbol for kilo.

K - The symbol for Kilo.

K2HD (K2 High Definition) - A high-end CD mastering and re-mastering technique developed by JVC that uses 24-bit, 192 kHz sampling for all mastering steps up to the final 16-bit CD pressing. Said to give the listener the best possible 16-bit CD recording.

K2-W - Designation for a famous tube-based 'modern' general-purpose operational amplifier built by Philbrick beginning in 1951.

ka – (1) In reference to Electronics, Abbreviation for cathode.

Kabuki - A type of popular Japanese drama, evolved from the older No theater, in which elaborately costumed performers, nowadays men only, use stylized movements, dances, and songs in order to enact tragedies and comedies. [AHD]


Kahn, Al - (b. 1906-2005) American entrepreneur who co-founded Electro-Voice with Lou Burroughs.

Kaisermarsch - Work by Wagner for unison male voices and orchestra (1871), celebrating the German victory in the Franco-Prussian War and the election of Wilhelm I as emperor. [Sadie]

kalimba - The original thumb piano.

Kaman, Charles H. - (1919-2011) American musical pioneer (as well as an aeronautical engineer) who developed the Ovation ® Roundback guitar and went on to found Kaman Corporation, now KMC Music.

kamanche - A bowed spike fiddle of Middle East origin.

Kámán Line – In reference to Astronomy, The boundary between Earth's atmosphere and space (the edge of space) that lies roughly 100 km above sea level.

kankles - Lithuanian zither.

Ka-on vase - A flower vase fitted with audio input ports that use the flowers as loudspeakers. Invented by Let's Corporation.

Karaoke – (1) A music entertainment system providing prerecorded accompaniment to popular songs that a performer sings live, usually by following the words on a video screen. (2) The performance of such music. [From Japanese: kara, void, empty + oke(sutora), orchestra.] [AHD]

karat also carat Abbr. k or kt. - A unit of measure for the fineness of gold, equal to 1/24 part. Pure gold is 24 karat; gold that is 50 percent pure is 12 karat. [AHD]

Karnaugh map - A rectangular diagram of a logical expression drawn with overlapping rectangles representing a unique combination of the logic variables such that an intersection is shown for all combinations. The rows and columns are headed with combinations of the variables in a Gray code sequence. [IEEE]

Kazoo - A toy musical instrument with a membrane that produces a buzzing sound when a player hums or sings into the mouthpiece. The word origin is believed to come being imitative of its sound. [AHD]

kb (kilobit) - a term signifying one thousand bits. Also kb/s or kbps for kilobits per second.

kB (kilobyte) - a term signifying one thousand bytes. Also kB/s or kBps for kilobytes per second.

Kb (Kilobit) - A term signifying 1024 bits, but should use Kibibit. Also Kb/s or Kbps for Kilobits per second or Kibibits per second.

KB (Kilobyte) - A popular term signifying 1024 bytes, but should use Kibibyte. Also KB/s or KBps for kilobytes per second or Kibibytes per second.

KCL (Kirchoff's Current Law) - The amount of current flowing into a node exactly equals the amount of current flowing out of the same node; or the sum of all currents flowing into a node equals zero.

Kell factor - After RCA researcher Ray Kell who discovered in 1934 the phenomenon that the actual human visual resolution is only about 70% of the number of physical lines used in a video system.

Kellogg, Edward & Chester Rice - General Electric researchers who invented and patented the moving-coil direct-radiator loudspeaker in 1925.

Kelvin Abbr. (b>K - The International System unit of absolute temperature equal to 1/273.16 of the absolute temperature of the triple point of water. This unit is equal to one Celsius degree. A temperature in kelvin may be converted to Celsius by subtracting 273.16. (After First Baron Kelvin) [AHD]

Kelvin, William Thomson, First Baron - (b. 1824-1907) British physicist who developed the Kelvin scale of temperature (1848) and supervised the laying of a transatlantic cable (1866). His pioneering work in thermodynamics and electricity helped develop the law of the conservation of energy. [AHD]

Kelvin connection also 4-wire Kelvin connection - A 4-wire, 2-pair, connection used to make resistance measurements that are independent of the measuring lead resistance -- one pair is a current source and the other pair is a voltmeter.

keeper A bar of material (usually soft iron) with very high magnetic permeability placed across the poles of a permanent magnet (effectively shorting out the magnetic field) to protect it from demagnetization. Most often seen on horseshoe or U-shaped magnets.

Kena or quena - A shepard's pipe, or flute) without a mouthpiece.

Kennelly, Arthur E. - (b. 1861-1939) An Iris-American engineer who was professor of electrical engineering at Harvard University and later at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In 1893, he presented his famous "Impedance" paper to the American Institute of Electrical Engineers. In it he demonstrated the first use of complex numbers as applied to Ohm's Law in alternating current circuit theory.

Keronite® - Name of a company and of a surface treatment of light alloys that has the potential for creating superb loudspeaker cones.

Kerr Effect (aka Faraday Effect) - If an isotropic dielectric is placed in an electric field and a beam of light is passed through the sample orthogonally to the field then the material displays birefringence.

K-factor or K-rating - Transformers designed for operation in non-sinusoidal environments with non-linear loads.

Kevlar® - Registered trademark of Dupont. Used in loudspeaker driver cones due to its high strength-to-weight ratio.

key - (1) The pitch of a voice or other sound. (2) The principal tonality of a work: an etude in the key of E. (3) A tonal system consisting of seven tones in fixed relationship to a tonic, having a characteristic key signature and being the structural foundation of the bulk of Western music; tonality. [AHD]

keyable or keying - The ability to start or trigger a process by applying an external signal, usually to a side-chain.

key lock - Phrase for pitch matching two or more sources using pitch-shifting techniques. It refers to the fact that the key or pitch of the music remains the same, even though the tempo is changing.

keynote - The tonic of a musical key. [AHD]

Key West audion - Nickname given the first use of the audion tube by the Navy at their wireless station in Key West, Florida.

KHN filter (aka state-variable filter - An electronic filter based on state-variable techniques, first described by W. J. Kerwin, L. P. Huelsman, and R. W. Newcomb, "State variable synthesis for insensitive integrated circuit transfer functions," IEEE J. Solid Circuits, vol. SC-2, pp. 87-92, Sept. 1967.

kHz (kilohertz) - One thousand (1,000) cycles per second.

kibi Symbol Ki - New term standardized by the IEC as Amendment 2 to IEC 60027-2 Letter Symbols to be Used in Electrical Technology to signify binary multiples of 1024 (i.e., 2E10). Meant to distinguish between exact binary and decimal quantities, i.e., 1024 verses 1000. For example, it is now 16 kibibits, abbreviated 16 Kib, not 16 kilobits or 16 Kb.

kik - Popular jargon meaning "kick" (bass) drum sound or just the drum itself.

Kilby, Jack - American electrical engineer and Noble price winner for his invention of the monolithic integrated circuit while working for Texas Instruments.

kill switch - Control for removing whole frequency sections like bass, mids or highs.

kilo - Abbreviated k (always lower-case) - A prefix signifying one thousand (10E3).

Kilo - Abbreviated K (always upper-case) - A prefix popularly used in computer work to signify multiples of 1024 (i.e., 2E10), but should use kibi. Meant to distinguish base-2 (binary) from base-10 (decimal) magnitudes. For example, a "16 K" memory is actually 16,384 bits (i.e., 16 times 1024, or 2E14), but should now read "16 Ki".

kilobit - Abbreviated kb (lower-case k and b) - A term signifying one thousand bits. Also kb/s or kbps for kilobits per second.

Kilobit - Abbreviated Kb (upper-case K and lower-case b) - A term signifying 1024 bits, but should use Kibibit. Also Kb/s or Kbps for Kilobits per second or Kibibits per second.

kilobyte - Abbreviated kB (lower-case k, upper case B ) - A term signifying one thousand bytes. Also kB/s or kBps for kilobytes per second.

Kilobyte - Abbreviated KB (upper-case k and B) - A popular term signifying 1024 bytes, but should use Kibibyte. Also KB/s or KBps for kilobytes per second or Kibibytes per second.

Kilogram Abbr. Kg - The base unit of mass in the International System, equal to 1,000 grams (2.2046 pounds). [AHD]

kilovar - A unit equal to one thousand voltamperes.

Kirchoff's Current Law - Abbr. KCL - The amount of current flowing into a node exactly equals the amount of current flowing out of the same node; or the sum of all currents flowing into a node equals zero. (After Gustav Robert Kirchoff.)

Kirchoff, Gustav Robert - (b. 1824-1887) German physicist noted for his research in spectrum analysis, optics, and electricity. [AHD]

Kirchoff's Voltage Law - Abbr. KVL - The sum of all voltage drops and rises in a closed loop equals zero. (After Gustav Robert Kirchoff.)

KJ - karaoke jockey.

Klass Compaan - Dutch physicist who came up with the idea for the CD in 1960. He teamed up with Philips and produced a glass prototype in 1970.

Klaus Quirini or discothèque - The first disco dance club is said to be the Scotch Club in Aachen, Germany with the first disco DJ being Heinrich (real name: Klaus Quirini) who started it all in October 1959.

Klippel Analyzer System - A loudspeaker parameter measurement tool invented and developed by Wolfgang Klippel.

Klipsch, Paul W. - (b. 1904-2002) American engineer and inventor best know for inventing the "Klipschorn" below. He was one of the American audio pioneers. Member of the Audio Hall of Fame.

Klipschorn® - A type of full-range loudspeaker developed in 1941 with a revolutionary low end (Paul W. Klipsch, "A Low Frequency Horn of Small Dimensions," JASA, Vol. 13 October 1941; U.S. Pat. Nos. 2,310,243 & 2,373,692). By using the corner of the room as an extension of the folded horn within the cabinet, it was able to reproduce low-distortion tones down to 30 Hz. The Klipschorn is claimed as the only speaker in the world that has been in continuous production since the '40s. (After Paul W. Klipsch above.)

Kloss, Henry - (b. 1929-2002) American engineer and inventor, best known for inventing the acoustic-suspension loudspeaker and the large-screen projection television; founded four successful consumer electronics companies: Acoustic Research, KLH, Advent and Cambridge SoundWorks. Member of the Audio Hall of Fame.

kludge or kluge - A system, especially a computer system, that is constituted of poorly matched elements or of elements originally intended for other applications. [AHD]

klystron - The name, from the Greek, as coined by scientists at Stanford University -- was registered by Sperry Gyroscope Company in the late 1930s for their velocity-modulated, ultra-high-frequency tube.

Knechtel, Larry - (b. 1940-2009) American musician who won a Grammy for his arrangement of Simon and Garfunkel's "Bridge Over Troubled Water." For nearly 50 years he performed live and in the studio with top-selling artists.

knee (of a curve) - The point on a curve where change begins to occur; a section resembling the human knee exhibiting bending.

knife switch - A form of switch in which the moving element, usually a hinged blade, enters or embraces the stationary contact clips. [IEEE]

knoup - To toll the church bell. [Kacirk]

konghou - Chinese ancient instrument similar to a harp.

Korner Killer™ - A trademark of RPG Diffuser Systems, Inc.

kSPS (kilo samples per second) - One thousand (1,000) samples per second. A measurement of data converter speed.

KUDO (K-Louver modular directivity United with DOSC waveguide technology) - Designation by L-Acoustics for their line array.

Kundt's tube - Named after A.A. Kundt in 1866 who developed this apparatus for measuring the speed of sound in gases. It allows visualizing acoustic standing waves.

kunstkopf - The German word for an artificial recording head, used primarily for binaural recordings.

Küpfmüller, Karl (b. 1897-1977) German engineer who was a university professor before becoming the Director of R&D at Siemens & Halske and made significant contributions to network theory, communications technology and acoustics.

kVA (kilovoltamperes) - One thousand (1,000) voltamperes.

kvar (Pronounced kay var, with emphasis on the first syllable) - (a) The size or magnitude of a reactive power source, which would usually be measured in (units of) kilovar. (b) Abbreviation for kilovar, a unit of reactive power. [ IEEE Std 1531]

KVL - Kirchoff's Voltage Law - The sum of all voltage drops and rises in a closed loop equals zero. (After Gustav Robert Kirchoff.)

KVM (keyboard/video/mouse) - An adapter box that allows multiple computers to share the same keyboard, monitor and mouse.

K-weighting - Used for loudness normalization in broadcast, it "... is composed of two stages of filtering; a first stage shelving filter and a second stage high-pass filter." [from ITU-R BS.1770-2





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