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Audiophile Terms for Dummies

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

Hi guys,

 

I have just joined this forum and is excited with current setup consisting of a Shure SRH840 and JDSLabs CMOY amp.

 

I would love to understand more about the terms that is being used to explain sound characteristics on the gears. Please help to explain to me what are these terms mean;

 

forward vs laid back
neutral vs colored
bright vs warm
darker
dry
uptight
pace
PRaT

 

Thanks in advance! smily_headphones1.gif

post #2 of 11
Here you go

http://www.head-fi.org/wiki/describing-sound-a-glossary
post #3 of 11
Quote:
Originally Posted by darthkir View Post

Hi guys,

 

I have just joined this forum and is excited with current setup consisting of a Shure SRH840 and JDSLabs CMOY amp.

 

I would love to understand more about the terms that is being used to explain sound characteristics on the gears. Please help to explain to me what are these terms mean;

 

forward vs laid back
neutral vs colored
bright vs warm
darker
dry
uptight
pace
PRaT

 

Thanks in advance! smily_headphones1.gif


Neutral vs. Colored:

Colored sound is when certain frequencies are played back at higher or lower volumes than is natural according to the recording. Every headphone is colored to a degree, but headphones that are called "colored" do it to a greater degree. A lot of what you ask about is the result of coloration. Neutral is where everything is played back as the recording dictates. Headphones that are called "neutral" aren't colored to a great degree, and all of the frequencies are relatively balanced.

 

Forward vs. Laid Back:

Forward sound is caused by coloration that increases the volume of the "forward" frequencies. Bass, midrange, treble, or individual instruments which usually populate a certain part of these, can be forward. What happens is the louder frequencies appear closer than they should to the listener in the soundstage. Additionally, because of the increased volume small details in the frequencies are easier to distinguish, which also makes the instruments sound closer. It's "forward" because the listener feels closer to the musicians. A forward headphone usually emphasizes the upper midrange and treble, but like I said bass can be forward too. Laid back is the opposite. Frequencies are quieter and sound farther away.

 

Bright vs. Warm vs. Dark:

Generally speaking, bright sound is increased volume in the upper midrange and treble, and warm sound is increased volume in lower midrange and bass. Dark sound is usually warm sound, and characterized by quiet and "veiled" treble, where detail is hard to hear.

 

Dry:

Not totally sure, but I believe it would be characterized by a perceived lack of lower midrange, which makes things sound less warm and more analytical. Another symptom would probably be bright, harsh, and grainy treble.

 

PRaT:

Pace, Rhythm, and Timing. I'm not sure if there's a formal scientific definition, or if it's just a made-up audiophile concept to explain why they like an inferior and overpriced headphone. If I could characterize it I would say it relies on a punchy midbass, forward upper midrange, underdamped response, and fast decay.

 

I've never heard uptight, but it probably means about the same as dry and without any PRaT.

post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks a lot!

post #5 of 11
Thread Starter 

Thanks, great explaination!

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Head Injury View Post


Neutral vs. Colored:

Colored sound is when certain frequencies are played back at higher or lower volumes than is natural according to the recording. Every headphone is colored to a degree, but headphones that are called "colored" do it to a greater degree. A lot of what you ask about is the result of coloration. Neutral is where everything is played back as the recording dictates. Headphones that are called "neutral" aren't colored to a great degree, and all of the frequencies are relatively balanced.

 

Forward vs. Laid Back:

Forward sound is caused by coloration that increases the volume of the "forward" frequencies. Bass, midrange, treble, or individual instruments which usually populate a certain part of these, can be forward. What happens is the louder frequencies appear closer than they should to the listener in the soundstage. Additionally, because of the increased volume small details in the frequencies are easier to distinguish, which also makes the instruments sound closer. It's "forward" because the listener feels closer to the musicians. A forward headphone usually emphasizes the upper midrange and treble, but like I said bass can be forward too. Laid back is the opposite. Frequencies are quieter and sound farther away.

 

Bright vs. Warm vs. Dark:

Generally speaking, bright sound is increased volume in the upper midrange and treble, and warm sound is increased volume in lower midrange and bass. Dark sound is usually warm sound, and characterized by quiet and "veiled" treble, where detail is hard to hear.

 

Dry:

Not totally sure, but I believe it would be characterized by a perceived lack of lower midrange, which makes things sound less warm and more analytical. Another symptom would probably be bright, harsh, and grainy treble.

 

PRaT:

Pace, Rhythm, and Timing. I'm not sure if there's a formal scientific definition, or if it's just a made-up audiophile concept to explain why they like an inferior and overpriced headphone. If I could characterize it I would say it relies on a punchy midbass, forward upper midrange, underdamped response, and fast decay.

 

I've never heard uptight, but it probably means about the same as dry and without any PRaT.



 

post #6 of 11

I would be exceptionally careful with trusting anyone who thinks PRaT has any meaning whatsoever when written in an equipment review. It's right up there with "musical" in the glossary of meaningless crap.


Edited by Willakan - 7/24/11 at 11:33am
post #7 of 11
PRaT is the single most annoying term in the audiophile glossary. Anything that lets a piece of equipment take credit for something that's 100 % the skill (or lack thereof) of the recording artists and engineer doesn't sit well with me.
post #8 of 11

Very well worded explanation Head Injury! However the "Dry" sound has to do with reverberation when the decay of the sound is unusually short, might lead to a "crisper" sound. The opposite is wet sound with longer reverberation decay than usual and is usually smoother sounding.

 

I also agree about PRaT, that's a term I'll most likely never gonna end up using. :P Also never heard/read about some1 using the term "uptight".


Edited by RPGWiZaRD - 7/24/11 at 8:36am
post #9 of 11
Most audiophile descriptive terms are poetic obfuscations. The terms that are really important are...

Distortion
Signal to Noise
Dynamic Range
Frequency Response
Digital Artifacting
Channel Separation
Reverb
Compression

In analogue you can add...

Pitch
Wow and Flutter
Acoustic Feedback
Ground Loop
Dropouts

Each of these terms have terms for quantifying and describing sound within that category. Of all of these, Frequency Response is the most important. Most of the vague flowery audiophile terms refer to FR in one way or another.
post #10 of 11
Take those witha grain of salt, and remember when you read them that the writer can have other definitions than the ones I use. Also remember that what is brigh for one person can be neutral for another and super ultra bright for a third one, we all have different criteria, "x is brighter than y" is more informative than "x is bright".
  • Forward vs Laid Back
    Forward means in boost in frequency in the midrange and upper midrange, no boost in the trebles. Laid back means that the trebles are shelved back, recessed, to me.
  • Neutral vs Colored
    Neutral means that all frequencies are balanced, none are boosted or recessed, colored is the opposite, forward, dark, warm, laid back are all colorations.
  • Bright vs. Warm
    Bright means that the upper midrange and the trebles are boosted, Warm means that the midrange and upper bass are boosted.
  • Dark
    To me it's almost synonymous to laid back, except that laid back also somewhat implies that the bass impact is reduced, dark has no connotation about bass impact.
  • Dry
    Recessed upper bass
  • Uptight
    No idea
  • Pace and PRaT
    No specific meaning, it's just an impression, no one knows what it means when it comes to the behavior of the transducer. IT probably has to do with the way it handles transients.
post #11 of 11

I don't think there is a useful, universally-agreed upon definition of "PRaT" as it is used in audiophile circles. Ditch it entirely.

As I understand it, the individual words of Pace, Rhythm and Timing have definite meanings when they are used by musicians. Far better to trust them on these terms.

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