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What is the real definition of "warm?"

post #1 of 33
Thread Starter 
Ok, so this may seem like a stupid question, but lately I've been wondering...what actually makes something "warm?"

I have a pretty good idea of what some other words used to describe sound signature mean...dark, bright, etc. But warmth has thus far eluded me...I guess it's supposed to be this "smooth, liquidy sound with a bit of that midrange 'magic,'" but I know there's more to it than that. Is there some kind of frequency response characteristic, or are some parts of the frequency range more emphasized than others? How would you go about EQ-ing something so that it sounds "warm?"

Bah, I feel like a nub. Thanks in advance.
post #2 of 33
I would say something is warm when it has a boosted bass and/or midrange response, and a rolled off upper midrange and lower treble, which is where the perception of brightness actually comes from. (Not from the upper treble region.)

IMO, the Shure E4C the perfect definition of a warm headphone. Sennheiser cans are fairly bassy and have a rich midrange, and don't have any peaks or spikes in the their treble response, so a lot of people consider them to be warm. (Although I personally don't feel that way at all.)
post #3 of 33
I don't think warmth necessarily means emphasis on bass. Warmth is more like airiness, smoothness of mid and high (not rolled off, just not etching) and fullness of bass (not bloated, since one can be full yet not bloated). Other way to look at it is to imagine the opposite of "cold" sound: dry, lean, grainy, which sometimes lead to the perception of "brightness".
post #4 of 33
The definition of warm I was always given in the old days was a lower mid prominence that gives vocals a chesty/boomy characteristic, it was a prominent feature of radio presenters years ago before they adjusted it to flat. You can still hear it in some radio programming today, like the Bob and Tom show. BBC speakers used to sound like that, giving a slightly bassy tone to voices. This of course carried over into music as well giving a warm, smooth and slightly boomy, but not unpleasant presentation. Warm is characterised by a thickening of tone in that region. Sennheisers do a similar thing in their 580/600/650 series.

Take out too much of that lower mid bass and you get thin and shouty which could be characterised as a cold sound.
post #5 of 33
Warmth is often associated with tube amplifiers. They add even order harmonics to the sound that tends to make things sound more full bodied and smooth. This tends to be most noticeable in the midrange but not exclusively.
post #6 of 33
Rmemeber that the first time you taste a candy when you were a kid, that was what people say: sweet. Noone can explain this to you better that.
post #7 of 33
Quote:
The definition of warm I was always given in the old days was a lower mid prominence that gives vocals a chesty/boomy characteristic, it was a prominent feature of radio presenters years ago before they adjusted it to flat. You can still hear it in some radio programming today, like the Bob and Tom show. BBC speakers used to sound like that, giving a slightly bassy tone to voices.
That's interesting you should mention that, because that is exactly how I equalize my priest's voice whenever I'm working on one of his sermons. It sounds a lot nicer than the raw signal from the mixer.

EDIT: LOL, Spelling.
post #8 of 33
I'd say warmth is basically extra response from around 100Hz to 500Hz.
post #9 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiccoloNamek View Post
That's interesting you should mention that, because that is exactly how I equality my priest's voice whenever I'm working on one of his sermons. It sounds a lot nicer than the raw signal from the mixer.
Yes, there's a reason they use men with deep, soothing, soft voices in numerous adverts. It gives you a comforting feeling in a fireside kind of way.
post #10 of 33
Here are some cans that I think are warm:

HD 650
DT 250-250
Super.fi 5 pro
HF-1

Note the Grado. I believe it is possible to be warm and slightly bright at the same time. To me, the opposite of warm would be analytical.
post #11 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by smeggy View Post
The definition of warm I was always given in the old days was a lower mid prominence that gives vocals a chesty/boomy characteristic, it was a prominent feature of radio presenters years ago before they adjusted it to flat. You can still hear it in some radio programming today, like the Bob and Tom show. BBC speakers used to sound like that, giving a slightly bassy tone to voices. This of course carried over into music as well giving a warm, smooth and slightly boomy, but not unpleasant presentation. Warm is characterised by a thickening of tone in that region. Sennheisers do a similar thing in their 580/600/650 series.

Take out too much of that lower mid bass and you get thin and shouty which could be characterised as a cold sound.
This is an awesome definition. I agree with it 100%!
post #12 of 33
So warm means everything blends in smoothly? Smooth transitions from note to note...?

There should be a head-fi glossary!
post #13 of 33
I think it's more smoothness of tonality, than "note to note" transition (speed?)
post #14 of 33
Quote:
Originally Posted by Advil View Post
So warm means everything blends in smoothly? Smooth transitions from note to note...?

There should be a head-fi glossary!
Try here: http://www.integracoustics.com/MUG/M...-glossary.html.

Also, search the boards for "glossary" and you'll get some useful sites.
post #15 of 33
Warmth, IMO has to do with the body and harmonics of the notes reproduced. A system that accentuates the principal tone (fundamental) whilst diminishing the harmonic structure of the notes sounds threadbare or thin. Imagine an old cloth that has lost its supporting structure. One that develops the entire note or tone, to include the fundamental and overtones (harmonics) sounds more full and real. If the 2nd order harmonics are emphasized - something that tube electronics excel at - a note may sound more full bodied than what may be natural, an effect we may call "warm."
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