I'm posting this thread in the hopes that the people who are the leaders in our community will consider making it a sticky thread, as I firmly believe it'll help many members, as well as improve the overall quality of our forums, leading to much more helpful posts and discussions. I should be posting this in the Sound Science section of the head-fi forums, but the problem is, posting there is like preaching to the small minority of already converted--it's useless. So I'm posting this in the full-sized and portable headphones sections, because that's where most members visit, and I could reach a lot more people who could benefit the most.
The point of this post is simple--there is no standard in how people are describing sonic signatures, so it's very confusing and contradictory when people either don't really understand how to properly describe audio characteristics, or people use the same word to describe very different things. This makes all the posts, reviews, debates...etc very chaotic and hard to reach any sort of real understanding between members.
What I propose is to have a set standard, such as a sticky thread, and this standard will be based on the most current and authoritative published materials on mixing and mastering from world-renowned audio engineers. If we all use the same standard, we could then know exactly what the other person is talking about, without any confusion or misinterpretation. This set of standards could be updated as necessary.
For starters, we need to make sure members actually know what bass, mids, and treble actually REALLY mean, because so many members do not understand and misuse these terms.
Here's a great primer on the frequency bands and exactly what audio information is isolated in each:
If you want to familiarize yourself with exactly what each frequency sounds like as a pure sine wave tone, this is a great place to listen to examples:
So instead of simply saying bass, mids, or treble, or the somewhat more detailed sub-bass, lower/upper-mids, and so on, we can talk about sonic signature in proper detail by describing the exact frequency range we're referring to. This will alleviate the problem of one person saying "the mids are too forward" and we have no idea what frequency range the person's talking about. "mids" can range anywhere from 250Hz to 4KHz, and without saying exactly where in the frequency range one is talking about, it's practically useless. Same with treble and bass--too many people have no idea what they're talking about when they use those terms.
There was a thread on head-fi a few years ago that actually listed a glossary of terms used to describe audio, and I'm surprised to see that it was not made into a sticky:
For those of you who are more visual, here's a very helpful chart that makes it extremely easy to describe sound in detail (taken from a couple of the books I own):
And finally, for those who would like to educate themselves on how to listen proper to audio information, these books will definitely teach you a ton about the secrets behind how audio professionals use critical listening skills, or to shape audio into the music we all love so much:
Critical Listening Skills for Audio Professionals, by F.Alton Everest (contains audio examples CD):
The Mixing Engineer's Handbook, Second Edition
Mastering Audio, Second Edition: The art and the science
Edited by Lunatique - 3/29/11 at 4:44am