Audio Terminology (Subjective terms used on SuperBAF)

Discussion in 'Tales from the Bully Pulpit' started by purr1n, Dec 1, 2016.

  1. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    SuperBAF Subjective Audio Glossary
    Describing Sound
    An Audio Glossary
    A Glossary of Audio Terms
    Audio Terminology (Subjective terms used on SuperBAF)


    This is work in progress. Some links are to some good discussion on the Audio 101 thread which has been locked, presumably because it started to become a thread of shitposts. Please make an effort to read posts before and after the links.

    I've hesitated from explicitly precisely defining these terms in the past, preferring to let folks figure it out for themselves, but I think it's about time that I did this. This is not to say that others' definitions are not correct. The purpose of this is to ensure common understanding of these terms as they are used on SuperBAF.

    Microdynamics and Microdynamics
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/the-audio-101-thread.3214/page-2#post-96125

    Microdetail aka Plankton (vs. Macrodetail)
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/the-audio-101-thread.3214/page-2#post-96131
    Discussion: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ton-and-the-ability-to-resolve-properly.2801/

    Clarity (and "Black")
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/the-audio-101-thread.3214/page-3#post-96353

    Transient Response (Speed, Attack, Decay)
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...tive-terms-used-on-superbaf.3400/#post-100490

    Neutrality (Subjective and Objective)
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/what-is-neutral-frequency-response.18/

    Timbre
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ty-to-resolve-properly.2801/page-4#post-99159

    Wire-With-Gain / Transparent
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...tive-terms-used-on-superbaf.3400/#post-100544

    Warm, Dark, Bright, Laid-Back, Rolled, Lean (and others: Shouty, Shrill, Honk)
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...tive-terms-used-on-superbaf.3400/#post-100548

    "Wet" vs Dry
    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...erms-used-on-superbaf.3400/page-2#post-102494
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  2. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ON TRANSIENT RESPONSE

    Before I delve into transient response, I'd like to point out that the effects of good transient response can be interpreted as "detail". An example of this with the Ether headphone. The Ether exhibits fast transient response, particularly in the upper registers. This results in great delineation and separation of sounds. However, this is not the same as and should not be confused with microdetail. As least from how I have traditionally defined things and how I hear it. I could agree that the Ether is more "detailed" than the HD6X0, but to say that the Ether is more resolving of microdetail than the HD6X0 (assuming capable upstream gear, recordings, and ears) would be incorrect. The detail aspect of the Ether lies in the temporal domain, on the X-axis moving in time. The detail, or more precisely microdetail aspect of the HD6X0 lies in the amplitude domain, on the Y-axis for volume, particularly at the lowest levels of sounds.

    Transient response can be broken down into three aspects: attack, decay, and speed of transient. Instead of defining them, I will cite examples. Good transient response can be heard as tight articulate bass or well delineated sounds (metal percussion such as cymbals). Modern electrostatics (STAX) or ultra-thin membrane isodynamics tend to exhibit the fastest speed among all transducers, however they tend to have softened or rounded attacks. Think of it as a pillow being throw at your face at 100kph. These kinds of headphones lack a certain kind of tactility upon the very tail end of the impact throughout the entire audio band. Some planars such as Abyss, HE-6 (again assuming capable upstream gear) can show excellent attack characteristics, but they are slightly slower. Instead of a pillow, it’s a rock thrown at you at 70kph. Finally the best dynamics also have excellent attack characteristics, but are a bit slower in terms of speed, and tend to be the worse at decay. Although it should be said that the use of exotic materials such as Be or diamond have narrowed the gap significantly.
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
  3. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    reserved
     
  4. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Updated with transient response in post #2.
     
  5. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Add "neutral" and your are basically done. I do not like the word so I use "neutral-ish" because manufacturers have their flavours...
     
  6. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    Updated in post #1.
     
  7. philipmorgan

    philipmorgan Member of the month

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    This thread is great. Are there specific points in specific recordings that illustrate any of these terms? I'd really benefit from examples like that.
     
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  8. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    ON WIRE-WITH-GAIN

    Bullshit term. I've never heard anything that sounded like wire-with-gain. Ironically, this term if most often used by fanboys of amps that have a tendency to sound like sizzly etched solid-state abominations. The "wire-with-gain" thing comes in as a handy excuse to blame an amp's shitty sound on the source.


    ON TRANSPARENT

    Semi-bullshit term. All audio gear commits sins of commission and sins of omission (borrowed from Arthur Salvadore), just different proportions and extents of them. People who have only heard bad tube amps like to say that tube gear commits sins of commission (I don’t disagree with this), while pointing out that solid-state amps are totally transparent. This is bullshit. Solid-state gear, even the best solid-state gear, commits sins of omission. An amp isn’t transparent if it commits sins of omission – just that it’s harder to notice it, especially if one hasn’t heard a good tube amp.

    In general, I think it's fair to say that tube gear tends to commit sins of commission and that solid-state gear commits sins of omission. There is no right or wrong in which is your preference. There are other factors such as power output. The only thing wrong is covering your eyes and closing your ears in not being able to realize this. The tube vs. solid-state argument is beyond the scope of this thread, please go here: http://www.superbestaudiofriends.org/index.php?threads/tube-vs-solid-state.3296/
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2016
  9. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    • Plankton: Eagles Live Hotels California XRCD. String passage in the beginning. A resolving medium-priced headphone like the HD6X0 should be able to pick up string decays that are lost on less resolving expensive headphones like the AKG K812 or even the Abyss.
    • Macrodynamics and Attack: Pixies Brick is Red MFSL. Certain passages on Stanley Black LSO Magnificent Seven LFF remaster.
    • Transient response: Daft Punk Giorgio Moroder, any jazzy stuff with fine cymbal work. Electronica with quick start-stop beeps and boops.
    • Microdynamics: Bach Cello Concerto Rostropovich. Listen to the gradations of the volume of the cello, and how it digs and sways.
    • Clarity: Anything because of its high correlation to distortion.
    Don't want to get too deep into this. There are many many fine examples. You need to choose your own set of test tracks that work for you. Most of the time, I can use one or two test tracks to assess everything. The important thing is to be super familiar with the recording and know exactly what master it is.
     
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  10. purr1n

    purr1n Finding his inner redneck

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    General Frequency Response Terms
    • WARM: Emphasis is mid/upper bass.
    • LAID BACK: Recessed upper mids and sometimes treble
    • DARK: Downward sloping from bass to treble
    • BRIGHT: Upward sloping from bass to treble or emphasis in treble
    • LEAN: Lacking in bass
    • THIN: Recessed lower midrange and bass, opposite of BODY.
    • ROLLED (top): Recessed treble
    More SuperBAF specific Frequency Response Terms
    • SHOUTY / SHRILL: Emphasis around 2 to 3.5kHz
    • HONK: Emphasis around 1 to 2.5kHz (note different from below)
    • NASAL: 500 to 800Hz.
    Also see here: http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display.htm
     
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2016
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  11. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Where is "limp dick"?

    @Hands made this an important aspect of sonic (mal)performance. Nice thread.
     
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  12. MoatsArt

    MoatsArt Friend

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    Your definitions suggest that "warm" is close to the opposite of "thin". Is "body" a synonym for "warm", or is there more to it than that?
     
  13. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    Here is the thing. For each audio term you should make a table with this structure.

    list of terms - objective explanation - subjective experience
    term A
    term B
    ...
    ...
    etcetera

    And before you know it you have a useful glossary.

    There is a catch though. There will always be a personal bias because people's perception of music varies and there are many factors.
     
  14. bazelio

    bazelio Friend

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    Micro and Macro presumably.
     
  15. anetode

    anetode Moderator

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    Look down.
     
  16. Griffon

    Griffon 2nd biggest asshole on SBAF

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    CAN HE EVER RECOVER
     
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  17. Deep Funk

    Deep Funk Deep thoughts - Friend

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    I guess you like bassy headphones for that lower end thrust in your sound.
     
  18. gurubhai

    gurubhai Friend

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    That would be hard.
     
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  19. Priidik

    Priidik Friend

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    One way to use this term is in analogy with speed of light.
    Nothing (macroscopic) goes with speed of light, but we still measure fast moving objects in fractions of c.
    Also RL acoustic performance is 100% transparent, so we could devise a scale.
     
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  20. zonto

    zonto Friend

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    Great thread! This link may not work all the time, but it's working at the time of this post: Changstar's Pyrate Glossary thread.

    I just printed the old thread to PDF but it's too large to attach to this post.

    Edit: Changster thread converted below with my edits. Material edits called out with red text.

    TECHNICALITIES VS. TONAL BALANCE

    Some pyrates only care about achieving correct tonal balance. Others are more concerned with technical ability. The truth is most are somewhere in between, with different thresholds of acceptance. For example, certain pyrates want the best technicalities that can be had so long as nothing major is effed in the frequency response (+/- 5dB). Others want to have a certain tonal balance (e.g., bassy, flatness) and are willing to accept technical pitfalls for the purpose of their perfect sound profile.

    Technicalities: A multitude of performance aspects, including but not limited to:
    • Macrodynamics / microdynamics
    • Impact
    • Plankton / low-level detail / resolution
    • Clarity
    • Soundstage
    • Imaging
    • Engagement / Involvement / X factor [Z edit: Gaurav factor?]
    Tonal Balance: Amplitude of each frequency band in relation to each other. C asily represented with your typical frequency response plot. The easiest and most obvious aspect of the sound signature. See the chart below for a basic definition of tonal qualities.

    http://www.independentrecording.net/irn/resources/freqchart/main_display.htm

    Side Note on Driver Technology

    Many pyrates find that dynamic headphones (voice coil) sound punchier and sharper in initial attack, overshooting somewhat. Planars, on the other hand, are faster in attack and decay and hold the sustain longer (which can make them sound full, especially noted in the bass and mids) and most of the time, depending on the damping, overshoot less. But the housing resonances and in most cases driver tension (see post "A quick note on the ortho wall") causes ringing problems, of which can be somewhat alleviated by good backwave damping behind the driver and reflection damping in sides of the earpad. Electrostats in particular are said to have an exponential attack and decay with a more brief sustain, causing what some Stax haters call an “ethereal” sound.

    While voice coils do tend to handle dynamics better, planars (in particular, electrostats) tend to have the advantage of sounding cleaner and more clear than their dynamic counterparts. Dynamics can add a certain “grain” to the sound. Electrostats have a unique ability to separate instruments from each other and image them precisely in the soundstage. Whether the presence or absence of this grain is a coloration is still highly contested by pyrates.

    Ethereal articulation cause ethereal images, and such headphones include all Stax and the HE1000. The sound envelope applies to all frequencies so tonal balance contributes to articulation as a complex tone evolves and devolve through its timbre. The best articulation for audio reproduction is a tossup between planar and dynamics, since stats in general carry the ethereal coloration. Damping plays a huge role. It must modulate the air flow form excursion and rarefaction by increasing the effective surface area (to absorb and damp the resulting forces of the excited air) while not obstructing the driver. An obstructed driver can come off as hollow or rolled off in the bass, or piercing in the mids or treble.

    The Stax provide more of that due to their ultra-clean and synthetic plastic timbre. And possibly slight FR accentuation in the upper mids. NOT treble spikes that "enhance" detail. This isn't even worth addressing...none of us think Grados, ATs, etc. are resolving. You can't add resolution by EQing the treble up. NOT "speed." Things can attack really fast and then decay really quickly and evenly, but still be missing all of that musical information beneath and around it. It IS the ability to portray information on the recording. The ability to render the picture/frame in its entirety if we want to use the video analogy. It's not a big leap to extend that definition to include both microdetail (plankton, inner-whatever, etc) and spatial information (ambient cues, precise imaging, etc.) Applies to headphones, DACs, amps. HD650 (~2014) > Stax Lambda
    I think the main reason I prefer electrostats is the grain issue actually. I didn't hear it before, but when I listen to electrostats exclusively, it's really evident to me anytime I listen to a dynamic. I hear grain in the mids as well and I have no idea what causes it. It can't be FR related because it's there regardless of FR. I actually think it has to do with transient response, as the faster headphones have less grain to my ears. For example, the HD800 and Qualia have the least amount of grain of any dynamic I've heard, and the orthos are also pretty good in this regard. The worst was probably the Ed9 or DT48.

    My top priorities have always been midrange tonality and driver transparency. A speaker can have bass and treble roll off but have a great midrange and I'll still love it (ESL 57/ Stax Sigma). I rarely find the roll off to be a problem. Compare that to something with roll off and shitty midrange tonality (DT48) and I'll hate it. When I say driver transparency, I'm trying to describe the ability of the transducer to "disappear." I don't want to be aware of the transducer at all, but this is really hard to pull off. This is sometimes described as "sound coming out of thin air" and electrostats usually excel at this. That's a big part of why I prefer electrostats so much.

    GLOSSARY OF TERMS
    Articulation
    : ability of a driver to reproduce any sound impulse. Clean articulation allows for solid images. Fast articulation allows for more detailed images.

    Attack: initial rise in the sound envelope. See "Sound Envolope."
    • Example: A fuzzy attack is like the HE1000. The HD800 has a very sharp attack
    Bass: 20Hz–200Hz.

    Blackness or Blackground: A sort of contrast ratio that exist with audio signals. A system with good blackground will be arise from nothingness and decay back into black. A poor blackground will contribute to fuzzy images that are hard to deliniate around the edges.

    Channel Matching: Any SPL difference between the left and right channels of a system. Can be narrow band (a peak/dip or dip that shows up on one channel but not the other) or wide band (the whole spectrum is evenly pushed up or down).
    • Detail: Imbalances can be caused by differing resistance/capacitance in the wiring to each driver. Or driver membrane defects (thickness, glue, weight, impurity like dust on the membrane). Or differing housing, seal, damping, or rigidity. Or (for electronics) differences in component (transistor/tube/resistor/capacitor) tolerances.
    Clarity: Ease in presenting a sonic characteristic (i.e., soundstage, imaging, instrument timbre, plankton).

    Comb Filtering: the same frequency produced from an area landing at slightly different times at the ear. Contributes to clearer imaging at expense of fidelity. Certain planar drive technologies have been demonstrated to have a comb filtering effect in the treble due the large vibrating surface.

    Compressed:
    1. Lacking dynamic swing
    2. Can also refer to dynamic range compression, which is a different sort of effect
    Cohesion: Oneness of the sound. Smooth FR tends to be a prerequisite. Multi-driver systems tend to lose points in this category.
    • Example: Cohesion between bass and mids creates a soothing, intimate, natural sound, like the LCD2. Cohesion between mids and treble creates a tactile and immediate vocal, as in the case of the SR009.
    Damping: Simply put, damping removes energy from a given system. Damping can be used in front of driver, though fabrics and earpads and distance, or behind the driver with a closed or open back, or to the sides of the driver, separating the two spaces.
    • Detail: Impossible to understate its effect for the driver to function. Damping materials include air (enclosed partially or completely, or through a selectively permeable membrane), plastic, rubber, plasticine and putty, foam, fiberglass, cotton materials, wood, and fabrics. Fabrics vary in weave, individual thread permeability and surface area, density, weight, compliance, material strength, and ease of mounting (by glue or otherwise). All damping will change the internal volume of the headphone. A badly damped headphone has spikes and ringing, and isn't resolving, like the Koda. An over/misdamping headphones has roll off, bloat in bass, or treble/high mid spikes, as is the case with the HD650's treble and bass, although overall it is a well-damped phone. A well-damped phone has good articulation and frequency response, and likely low sensitivity (and increasing noise isolation) as a result. Damping methods differ between driver types. We see HiFiMan use stricly air damping with very little cloth in its planars, while Audeze uses a more closed chamber and foam. Dynamics usually have fiberglass or felt directly in the driver right behind the membrane. Stats have fiberglass and rubber seals. It is usually best to leave stock damping in place, or to add on to it, in order to linearize FR, as the headphone gains increased precision in articulation.
    Decay: Decrease in amplitude after impulse reaches its peak. Fast decay being a prerequisite for good soundstage. See "Sound Envelope."

    Definition: In terms of technicalities, a fineness of which an image is projected. The video analogy is appropriate in this case.

    Detail Retrieval: The ability to pick up microdetail that is on the recording. Not to be confused with macro-detail or clarity. See "Plankton."

    Dynamics: The ability to reproduce a larger range and finer delineation of micro and macro details, preferably in coexistence. A system with good dynamics will be able to swing from soft to loud with authority and ease.

    Extension: To extend from lowest and highest bands of the spectrum. Generally requires good frequency response below 50Hz and above 12k

    Harmonics: The overtones of an instrument that give its identity or timbre.

    Imaging: The ability for an instrument, vocal, etc. to occupy its place in the soundstage. Connected to clarity and soundstage.

    Impact: Usually refers to bass slam, but can also refer to how well walls of sound shoot up quickly and then disappear, much like physical impact. Felt in the ears as a tickling, electrifying sensation, which is the inner ear tightening up (the hairs) in reaction to the sound. Not exclusive to the bass region. See "Macrodynamics." [Z edit: Does not exist. See "Macrodetail."]

    Isolation: Reducing (or damping) external sound. Generally used to refer to closed back headphones or IEMs.

    Low/micro-level Detail: See "Plankton."

    Macrodetail: Changes in dynamics on the loudest scale.

    Microdynamics: [Z edit: Changes in dynamics on the quietest scale.]

    Midrange: 200–2000Hz. Often the melody and heart of music, as such, the most present sound in a recording.

    Neutrality: Adherence to flat frequency response, as determined in mixing and mastering studios

    Plankton: The littlest fish in the sea. The music can be thought of as a sea that is always in flux. The tides on the top (macrodynamics) crash back and forth with mucho gusto. Meanwhile, the eddy currents and turbulence beneath (microdynamics) catch the plankton and serve it for dinner.
    Presence: Tonally, the 2,000–6,000Hz region. Technically, imaging or clarity qualities.

    Reflection: When an traveling sound wave hits a boundary, there is a reflection at the incident angle. Relevant when discussing room acoustics, headphone damping, etc.

    Resolution: NOT macro-clarity. See "Low/micro-level Detail" and "Plankton."

    Resonance: When a system stores energy, either at a specific frequency or over a wide bandwidth. Resonances are a natural part of any musical signal, however resonances imparted by the playback system are not good sounding

    Roll-off: Antonym of "Extension."

    Seal: Compliance of the pads to form an airtight seal both where the pad meets the head, and also throughout the pad surface and where the pad meets the driver. Pushing down pads on your head with music playing can reveal issues with seal at all areas of the pad, but also changes distance to driver and thus damping by air space. Seal changes internal air damping.

    Separation: The ability to delineate between discrete entities in the signal.

    Sound Envelope: The attack (which rises to the peak), then decay (which falls from the peak), sustain (which holds the signal relatively constant), and finally the release where the signal falls back to zero

    [​IMG]

    Soundstage or Staging: The ability to recreate the sound field realistically. Can be described in terms of width, depth, height, spheres, and blobs.

    Spatial Cues: Sense of space of an instrument, usually provided by the room and its many reflections. Related to "Soundstage or Staging" and [Z edit: "Low/micro-level Detail."]

    Speed: The ability for a system to respond quickly to the musical signal. See "Attack" and "Decay."

    Sustain: Holding a signal after the attack and decay. See "Sound Envelope."

    Synergy: Combining distinct qualities to achieve an overall system that is greater than the sum of its parts.

    Texture: The sound of a frequency band in itself. Related to timbre.
    • Example: Gritty, grainy, plasticky, artificial, muddy, etc.
    Tonality or Tone: Relation of each frequency band (bass, mid, treble) to each other. Distinct from "Texture."

    Transparent: Meaningless term without context. Nothing is transparent. [Z edit: See also @Marvey's post.]

    Treble: 2,000–20,000Hz.

    Wire-with-gain: See "Transparent." [Z edit: See also @Marvey's post.]

    Specific Descriptors [Z edit: needs a rework]

    Airy: Tends to be indicated by extended and even response above 10,000Hz. (Upper treble)
    Analytical: Bright leaning or lack of bass. Opposite of warm.
    Boomy: Emphasis on midbass. Sometimes an underdamped, slow decaying bass, typically accompanied by harmonic distortion.
    Bright: Accentuated treble region or upward tilt in frequency response.
    Clarity: Immediate and easy quality. Lack of grain or other texture colorations. See "Transparent."
    Closed: Lacking flatness from mid-mids and onward. Prevents instruments from attacking/decaying properly through their harmonics.
    Congested: Small soundstage caused by long decay in bass or mids, or lack or treble. See "Closed."
    Cuppy: Like the sound when you speak into a cup. Suggests a small, reflective/resonant space. A coloration in the midrange.
    Dark: Opposite of bright. Downward tilt in frequency response.
    Dead: Severe lack of macro and micro dynamics. Boring. Can also be associated with a dark sound.
    Diffuse: Attack and decay are more drawn out than they ought to be. Can give the impression of a larger stage at the expense of precision.
    Dry: A textural coloration that can exist on the midrange. Music is cut short prematurely without needed harmonics.
    Etch: Uncontrolled, undamped overly excited treble. Also excessive delineation or overly sharp transients.
    Euphonic: Emotionally involving by being warm, excessively sweet. Not faithful reproduction but enjoyable.
    Face Tweeter: Treble louder, and unbalanced(causing discomfort, pain) than the rest of the frequency (e.g., HD700, stock HD800, certain Grados).
    Flabby: See "Boomy." A lack of control, but less impactful.
    Forward: Upper-mid or lower treble accentuation.
    Fun: Tends to refer to a V-shaped signature with exaggerated bass and treble.
    Fuzzy: Lack of resolution or precision in imaging.
    Grain: Textural coloration that can apply itself to midrange and treble. Like adding a layer of dirt to the music.
    Hollow: Lack of frequencies at/near and above fundamentals.
    Hot: Excess. Usually in conjunction with upper midrange or treble (e.g., hot treble).
    Laid back: De-emphasis of upper midrange / presence region and sometimes treble.
    Liquid: A smooth and coherent quality. Easygoing, but simultaneously detailed.
    Lush: Pleasant midrange coloration which emphasizes fundamentals. Usually accompanied with extra warmth and reduced presence.
    Muddy: Lack of bass accuracy. Tends to be indicated by harmonic distortion
    Nasal: Similar to being cuppy, emphasis from 500–700Hz.
    Open: Having flatness from midrange and onward, with little enough distortions to allow a sense of ambiance.
    Overdamped: Too short of a decay. Can make bass sound dead.
    Piercing: High midrange and treble spikes.
    Plasticky: Overly smooth and unnatural timbre. Overtones lacking tactility.
    Rough: Peaks and dips, often near another, in addition to ringing and smaller dips/peaks.
    Rubbery: Bass that lacks impact. Either the fault of driver technology or housing design/damping (includes earpads).
    Sharp: Good in reference to fast frequency response and decay. Bad in reference to narrow treble spikes that cause fatigue.
    Shrill: Hollow except also hot/bright. Imagine a screeching harpy.
    Smooth: Tonally, good when even and continuous frequency response. Technically, bad when glosses over plankton.
    Splashy: High midrange, low treble loudness. Similar to sibilance, except a little lower in frequency (or rather, slightly warmer).
    Thick: Bass or mids that decay slowly or one-note. Lack of pitch differentiation.
    Thin: Lacking bass or low midrange.
    Tight: Well-controlled and articulated. Generally refers to bass. Opposite of loose.
    Underdamped: Long decay. See "Boomy."
    Veiled: Lack of articulation.
    Warm: Accentuated bass and lower mids. An enveloping, sometimes muddy, sound. Opposite of "Analytical."
    Weighty: Lower frequencies more present.
    Wet: Extra reverb and harmonics added. Opposite of dry.
    Woolly: Ill-defined, lacking frequencies at and then around the fundamental tone.


    @OJneg linked to the Stereophile article, "Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary?"

    Might have some subcategories.

    How about blackness, blackground or black background? Almost like TV contrast ratio and absolute black levels but for audio. I think you can have a great sense of clarity and lack of veil or haze but have a less than black or greyish sounding background. Sort of like painting a very precise and immaculate painting on a slightly dirty canvas. Whereas clarity and veil would be haze over the paint as well if that makes sense.

    Tone color as part of or expanded upon in tonality? How accurate and distinct each instrument sounds itself apart from other instruments in tone. I like color as it sort of references gamma or color gamut which people can get a grasp on.

    How about micro transients, micro dynamics or low level articulation. Not just plankton as resolution of details but the ease, speed and clarity in articulation of low level signals. Effortlessness on the micro level.

    Some people also use laid back wrt sound stage placement being pushed back. Mistakenly imho, but it happens nonetheless.

    Forms of Compression as in dynamic (Dead) or tone color. Can include data and loudness wars in addition to the sub categories. A recent audio article linked here confused the latter two with each other.

    I would also include plasticky as having an overly and unnaturally smooth texture and tone. Liquid is similar but different. I'd need to think about how to delineate those. Maybe one is more broadband and the other narrow.
    Clipping can range from inaudible to "harsh" to downright nasty.

    Here is how to "learn" how to spot clipping.

    Use a well made recording and check with an audio program if it contains any clipping.
    Use that as a baseline.

    Now using a PC and a player like VLC for instance you can play back the file and pull up the equalizer.
    In the equalizer you will find a pre-amp slider on the left.

    Push it upwards and you can hear the clipping effects.
    Play with the slider and..... learn.

    Nothing beats your own testing experience.

    Here is a video about it (well parts of it) if you want someone to do it for you.



    Perhaps it is wise to watch more of his videos:
    https://www.youtube.com/user/IVTheFourth/videos
    Analytical: Can mean a few things. I usually use to indicate lack of body and warmth or just too much forwardness in the upper mids and treble. I can also see why someone would call a timbrally "dry" headphone (a la Beyer's cold metallic timbre) analytical but that's a different sort of coloration in my book. Analytical is mainly an FR thing.

    Closed: Opposite of open. Not expansive. A lot of people refer to "intimate" sounding when they hear a lack of depth and staging, but to me that's just closed and not desirable.

    Diffuse: It's like when you're trying to hear a spacial image but it's not quite solidifying. Hard to describe

    Dry: Opposite of wet, current definition is good.

    Flabby: Basically whenever you hear the driver out of control. You shouldn't be able to hear the thing trying to make bass; you should just hear the bass.

    Veiled: Not clear? Lack of air and articulation.
    • Anaxilus separate response/post to this definition: "Or a severe recess in a particular frequency range. Like off a cliff recess, not HD800 mids or whatever people claim about those."
     
    Last edited: Dec 2, 2016

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