Hopefully this makes some sense.
post #121 of 229
10/27/08 at 5:47pm
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Hopefully this makes some sense.
I just stumbled across thread this while poking around, and I actually made a similar guide for my girlfriend last week (I was introducing her to my rig and giving her some background reading before our trip to the CES in January). It's kind of a different approach - instead of a glossary, it kind of goes area by area in terms of what to listen for. It's a very rough first cut and probably isn't comprehensive enough, but it might be a useful starting point for someone new to this world doing their first critical listening:
Here are a series of things to listen for when listening to an equipment setup as a starting point for critically evaluating what you’re hearing. One thing to keep in mind is that many of these terms are not meant to be inherently positive or negative, and are more related to personal preferences and tastes than any measure of objective value.
1. Performance across the sound spectrum:
-Treble (highs – generally well evaluated by listening to instruments like violins, flutes, or cymbals)
-Mids (generally well evaluated by listening to things like vocals)
-Bass (lows – generally well evaluated by listening to things like bass drums, string basses or cellos)
Performance along the sound spectrum can be evaluated in a number of ways. In addition to many of the ways described below, two things to take into account are the “extension” (how high does the treble go, or how low does the bass go) and “impact” (how emphasized is that part of the sound spectrum?)
2. Clarity is how clear the sound is – it is probably best evaluated along a spectrum from “detailed” to “muddy” and can be applied either to the sound as a whole, or specific aspects (such as treble, mids, bass). How clearly are you able to hear the music, especially in terms of individually hearing all the various elements (all the instruments and singers etc.)?
3. Soundstage – how well you can “hear the space” of the music. A soundstage can be evaluated along five major categories. The first three are spatial:
-Width of soundstage (how wide does the space feel, how much does sound placement appear to vary within that width?)
-Height of soundstage (how high does the space feel, and how much does sound placement appear to vary within that width?)
-Depth of soundstage (how deep does the space feel, and how much does sound placement appear to vary within that width?)
The next is related to clarity
-How good is the “separation,” that is, how well does the setup present individual instruments or singers as having their own individual spaces rather than melding into one?
And the last is the feeling of “airiness” – a really great, well-presented soundstage will give you not only a sense of size of the space but also a feel for the air in that space so that you really feel like you’re there.
4. What is the overall “feel” of the sound? This can be evaluated along a spectrum from “warm” or “dark” (generally meaning the bass is a little stronger and more enveloping – this can also mean that some detail/clarity is sacrificed in order to achieve a more “relaxed” sound) to “bright” (generally meaning that trebles tend to be emphasized at the expense of bass – this can also mean that the sound is very detailed and clear rather than relaxed).
5. Where do you feel like you’re sitting while listening to the music? The presentation can either be very “forward” (i.e. the performer appears to be right up in your face) or more “removed.”
6. What sort of “texture” does the music give off? This is somewhat related to the feel of the sound – the texture can be either “analytical” (you can hear a lot of the details of the sound, but this is sacrificing the feel to some extent) or “lush” (you can really feel the texture of the instruments, but this might sacrifice some level of detail).
I've seen subterranean used in terms of bass that sounds "underground". It's hard to explain. Imagine being in a cave. It's like...ambient sub-bass?