Earlier this year we shared a list of 10 audio-visual terms that meeting planners should know to ensure effective, efficient communication with vendors and clients.

Ten terms doesn’t even scratch the surface of industry lingo, so we tapped some experts again and came up with 10 more that will ease the planning process. Thanks to Mary Platt and Andrew Bolkcom from Chase Creative in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for lending their AV knowledge.

Here they are, in no particular order: power drop, tie-in, distro, live room, coverage, 4K/Ultra HD, graphics op, video engineer, throw ratio.

Power drop, tie-in, distro

The first three all work together: power drop, tie-in and distro. A power drop is a venue’s dedicated power source for clients. The size of the meeting or event will determine the number of separate power drops required and they often carry an extra charge.

“They are going to be separate from other power sources so your projectors and your lights are not on the same circuit,” Bolkcom said. “That’s important because it maintains the integrity of your AV equipment.”

A distro is “a very beefy power strip,” said Platt. “It’s maybe the size of two large suitcases back-to-back and has about 20 plugs, breaking into several circuits.”

A tie-in is the biggest power drop a venue has, and that’s where the AV team will plug in the distro. “It gives you a lot more amps and power for the video, audio and lighting equipment to plug into,” Bolkcom said.

Live room

A live room is one that does not absorb noise very well. That results in bouncing sounds and echoes. 

“If you’re in a convention center with concrete floors and brick walls, you will need to pay attention to where your sound is going,” Bolkcom said, and consider ways to reduce the bounce, such as adding carpeting.


Coverage is how well the sound system covers the venue. “We always recommend enough speakers that will cover the size of the room and audience so that it’s audible all the way to the back,” Platt said.

Line array

A system of identical speakers attached in a curved line and hung from the ceiling or trusses. The degree of the curve is determined by the audio engineer to deliver the best sound for each venue, Bolkcom said.

“They’re going to give you a lot more power than ground-supported speakers, because with that curve you can cover people in the front of the room and all the way to the back.”

4K or ultra HD

This describes screen resolution and is the next step in high definition: 3840 pixels across and 2160 down. The 4K is rounded up from 3840. The previous standard was 1920 by 1080.

“We used to refer to that as ‘1080p,’” Platt said. “That used to be the highest.”

Planners need to think about this because if they supply 4K content, the venue’s projectors might not be able to accommodate it.

Graphics op

The person working during the event to ensure all PowerPoints, slides, speaker titles and other graphics are displayed correctly and at the right time. Depending on the size of the event, the duties can be combined with the video engineer.

Video Engineer

This is someone who oversees the entire line of equipment running during the show, especially important when the event is being recorded or live-streamed, Bolkcom said.

“They’ll have the multi-view screen right in front of them deciding what is shown on the large screens and what is getting recorded,” he said.

Throw ratio

This ratio determines how far away a projector needs to be from the screen – whether it’s a front projector or back projector.

“Generally speaking,” Bolkcom said, “the bigger the screen, the farther away the projector will be. “It definitely needs to be factored in when planners are doing diagrams.”

Looking for an expert in the Grand Rapids area who can assist you with A/V equipment? Find local experts on our service providers page.

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