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Monitors – (Also called Stage Monitors) Speakers on stage specifically for people on stage to hear. Monitors can be simple or complex, depending on what is happening on stage, and can range from a singe monitor speaker for a presenter to several speakers with multiple “mixes” (see “Monitor Mix”) for bands and other performers. Complex monitoring will often require a dedicated audio technician (Monitor Engineer).

Compression (Digital)

Compression (Digital) – A means of reducing digital information. It’s a complicated process, but not too difficult to understand. If you’ve ever texted the letters “LOL” then you understand compression. Rather than completely typing out “Laugh Out Loud” you “compressed” it down from twelve to three letters. They mean the same thing, but one requires much less typing. Basically, that’s what digital compression does, shrinks the amount of information in a way that can be un-shrunk later. That way file sizes can be smaller for storage, and use less speed on your internet connection.

Tech Head Note – Different codecs use different types of compression. Some are better than others or have different benefits than others. “Lossless” compression means that a digital signal can be rebuilt exactly as it was before it was compressed. “Lossy” compression means that some information is lost, but it’s close to the original (for example, maybe “LOL” was for “laughed out loud” rather than “laugh out loud”). Most compression schemes are lossy, and often have quality settings for how much information is “lost”.


Truss – A beam made of aluminum tubing, usually in a criss-cross pattern, which is used to hang lighting instruments, speakers, projectors, drape and scenery, and other items. Truss comes in a variety of shapes and sizes, as well as strengths, and can be bolted together to make longer spans (usually a maximum span of 40’ between hang points, depending how heavy the equipment is that is being hung).


VGA – Most often used today to describe a type of cable or connector. Technically VGA stands for Video Graphics Adapter and was used to describe the type of interface a computer used to hook up to a monitor. These days it is more of a generic term used to describe a computer video signal or a type of cable. A VGA cable (more specifically, the connector) has 15 pins and carries most resolutions of analog computer video signals (depending on the quality of the cable), which consist of Red, Green, and Blue signals and Horizontal & Vertical sync information.

Digital Snake

Digital Snake – An audio snake (a cable that is used to get all the audio sources from the stage to the main mixer) that converts all the sources into digital code. A regular audio snake (often called a copper snake) is a large cable that has separate wires for every audio source (channel). So the more channels a snake has (often times 48 or more), the bigger and more expensive it is. Copper snakes can also be easily damaged if not cared for properly. Since a digital snake converts everything to digital code lots of channels can be transmitted down a much smaller cable, often a Cat5 (Ethernet) cable or coax cable. The disadvantage is that, although the actual cable may be cheaper and easier to work with, the digital converters are quite expensive.


Rigging – Equipment and accessories such as truss, wire cable, chain motors, and safety devices, used to hang (or “fly”) AV equipment and scenery. Can also be used to describe the process of hanging or flying, “The crew will be rigging in the room starting at 8am.”

LED – Light Emitting Diode

LED – Light Emitting Diode. An LED is a type of light source that can be used in everything from TVs to flashlights. In the AV world there are three main applications. Most consumers are aware of LED TVs. These are basically LCD TVs that use LED as the backlight. The second application, LED walls and displays, are a completely different animal. In these, each pixel (picture element) is made up of its own LED light. The advantage is that images can get very large and very bright. Another advantage is that an LED display can be just about any size, shape, and resolution. The disadvantage is that LED displays are very expensive, and the individual LEDs get dimmer over time. The third application is traditional lighting instruments and use LED as their light source. The advantage is these light fixtures use much less energy than traditional incandescent lamps and can often reproduce colors without using any gel. But, like LED displays, they can be very costly to purchase.