Originally Posted by tupac0306
.... what does it mean by the word "intimate" ....?
This would generally refer to a musical performance being reproduced in such a way as to sound near/close to the listener, perhaps with delicate details being readily apparent. It's difficult to directly translate this, in terms of actual frequency sound-sig, but, as one possible example, sometimes emphasised mids can lead to vocals being projected in such a way that the vocalist sounds closer to the listener than the rest of the mix.
In terms of recordings (rather than equipment), one could describe a vocal performance where the vocalist sings very closely into the microphone, as sounding intimate (assuming he/she wasn't shouting or screaming, as that would repel the listener, rather than draw them in!). Just off the top of my head, I can think of 5 female vocalists, some of whose recordings could be described as 'intimate'- Mari Wilson ('My Funny Valentine' / 'No Moon At All'), Stacey Kent ('It Never Entered My Mind', 'Violets for My Furs', and many others), Diana Krall ('A Case of You' from Live in Paris, 'I'm Through With Love'), Anni-Frid Lyngstad ('Like an Angel Passing Through my Room'), Mary Coughlan ('I Want to be Seduced').
I admit that 'intimate' is a highly subjective term, and it would not be easy to ensure that the use of the term was consistent, from one equipment review to the next.
As an analogy, if you were to go to a small jazz club and sit at a table just a couple of metres away from a live jazz trio, that could be described as far more intimate-sounding than going to a large concert hall and listening to the same jazz trio performing while you were sat 10 rows back in the audience.
In terms of the SE-5, it would (I suppose) refer to the soundstage being smaller than some other CIEMs, the abundance of micro-details which all provide spatial clues as to the acoustics of a recording venue, and which make one feel more 'connected' to the performers and their instruments.
If you think about it, the closer you are to a performer, at a real live performance, the more tiny details you may hear from their instrument or voice, so a CIEM (or DAP, DAC, Amp, etc.) which provides a very detailed rendition may also help you feel closer to the performers in a recording. The SE-5 is renowned for being very detailed.
So, it really depends upon the context within which the word 'intimate' is being used in a review. If the reviewer says a piece of equipment is highly detailed, and then, a couple of sentences later, mentions that the equipments produces a sound that feels 'intimate', then that sense of intimacy might be due to the detail levels.
Equally, I have seen reviewers sometimes remark that a CIEM may slightly emphasise parts of the midrange, which has a subjective effect of making the reviewer perceive vocals as being 'nearer', and thus this may seem more intimate.
I have also seen reviewers associate the perceived 'warmth' of a piece of equipments sound-sig to create a sense of intimacy, and this subjective experience might be partly due to the fact that a small room (let's go back to the jazz club vs concert hall example) may sound more claustrophobic, and less airy and spacious than a large concert hall. Subjectively, a slightly claustrophobic acoustic might sound 'warmer'.
It's very tricky to explain the semantics of words which are contextually-dependent, but I hope I have made at least some sense to you!
My best advice it to always try to look at the context of the other statements a reviewer is using, whenever you see them using terms like 'oomph' or 'intimacy'.
Edited by Mython - 1/10/14 at 2:00pm