Building a scientifc glossary of audiophile terms
Aug 2, 2010 at 6:23 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 7

khaos974

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I've been on Head-Fi for quite a long time, though not nearly as active as some members or for nearly as long as the Wise people (since there are a women here, even if they are fewer in number) and it occurred to me that matching measures to impressions has been rarely done, at least on a large scale and in a form easily accessible to all. We already have a sound description glossary from in the wiki, what I propose is to correlate all those terms to a more scientific description, am I dreaming of the impossible or is it within our scope?
 
Obviously some terms are redundant, others can't be linked to a measure, and some are simply too vague to be described scientifically. If there are people willing to try, I'll try to edit this OP in a coherent way when new definitions/corrections appear. A good idea would be to use the terms of this wiki entry. Some entries are left as they are if they are scientific, for the moment, I deleted every that I have no idea of how they correlate to measures. Please add those again.
 
I'll start with a few:
 
Aggressive - Not flat, emphasis on the trebles, bigger bump than bright, possible high THD at hight frequencies.

Analytical - If meant as a quality, it's the ability to heard minutes details due to the low distortion level, as a default, it refers to treble peaks giving a false impression of detail.
 
Attack - The leading edge of a note, quality is correlated with the impulse response.

Bass - The audio frequencies between about 60Hz and 250Hz.

Bassy - Emphasized Bass.
 
Black background - Good THD at low power, low noise level.

Bloated - Excessive mid bass around 250 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies, low frequency resonances.

Blurred - Poor transient response. Bad IMD?

Boomy - Excessive bass around 125 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies or low frequency resonances.

Boxy - Having resonances as if the music were enclosed in a box. Sometimes an emphasis around 250 to 500 Hz.

Bright - Not flat, emphasis on the trebles.

Brilliance - Not flat, emphasis on the trebles.

Clear - See Transparent.
 
Channel Balance - The relative level of the left and right channels

Closed - Roll-off above 10kHz.

Coloured - Non flat response; peaks or dips.

Dark - A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright.

Definition (or resolution) - see transparent

Depth - A sense of distance (near to far) of different instruments. Correlated with little phase shift vs frequency?

Detailed - Good impulse response, flat FR, low THD

Dynamic - No clipping of the signal, low THD at high power.

Euphonic - An appealing form of distortion that generally enhances perceived fidelity, often ascribed to the harmonic elaborations of some valve amps.

Fast - Good reproduction of rapid transients, correlated with the impulse response.

Focus - See soundstage

Forward(ness) - Not flat, emphasis on the trebles, bigger bump than bright.

Full - Strong fundamentals relative to harmonics. Flat in the midrange ?

Grainy - High THD in the trebles?

Grip - High damping factor for an amp?

Grungy - Lots of harmonic or I.M. (Intermodulation) distortion.

Hard - Too much upper midrange, usually around 3 kHz.

Harsh - Too much upper midrange. Peaks in the frequency response between 2 and 6 kHz. Or, excessive phase shift in a digital recorder's low pass filter.

Headstage - The perception of the Soundstage while listening to headphones.

Highs - The audio frequencies above about 6000 Hz.

High Midrange (High Mids, Upper Mids) - The audio frequencies between about 2kHz and 6kHz.

Hollow - Recessed mids.

Imaging - See Soundstage

Laid-back - Recessed trebles, not flat

Low Level Detail - Good THD at low power, low noise level.

Low Midrange (Low Mids) - The audio frequencies between about 250Hz and 2000Hz.

Lush - Not flat, slightly recessed in the treble and bass, presence of even order distortion harmonics.

Mellow - Not flat, slightly recessed in the treble and bass.

Midrange (Mids) - The audio frequencies between about 250 Hz and 6000 Hz.

Muddy - I.M. distortion.

Muffled - Weak highs or weak upper mids.

Nasal - Honky, a bump in the response around 600 Hz.

Piercing - Having sharp, narrow peaks in the response around 3 to 10 kHz.

PRaT - What :)

Presence Range - The presence range between 4kHz and 6kHz is responsible for the clarity and definition of voices and instruments. Increasing this range can make the music seem closer to the listener. Reducing the 5kHz content makes the sound more distant and transparent.

Presence - A sense that the instrument in present in the listening room. Synonyms are edge, punch, detail, closeness and clarity. Adequate or emphasized response around 5 kHz for most instruments, or around 2 to 5 kHz for kick drum and bass.

Puffy - A bump in the response around 500 Hz.

Range - The distance between the lowest and highest tones.

Resolution (or Resolving) - See Transparent

Rich - Having euphonic distortion made of even order harmonics.

Roll-off (Rolloff) - The gradual attenuation that occurs at the lower or upper frequency range of a driver, network, or system. The roll-off frequency is usually defined as the frequency where response is reduced by 3 dB.

Round - High frequency rolloff or dip.

Saturation - The point at which a magnetic tape is fully magnetized and will accept no more magnetization.

Sibilant (or Sibilance) - ?

Smooth - Flat frequency response in the midrange. Lack of peaks and dips in the response.

Soundstage (good) - Little phase shift across the frequency range, closely matched left and right transducers, low stereo crosstalk.

Speed - Correlated with a good impulse response.

Sub-Bass - The audio frequencies between about 20Hz and 80Hz.

Thick - High THD in the bass, possibly due to uncontrolled resonances.

Tight - Low THD in the bass

Tinny - Narrowband, weak lows, peaky mids.
 
Tonal Balance - The degree to which one aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized above the rest, usual described as warm,  dark, bright...

Transient - Correlated to the impulse response and a low THD at high power with no clipping

Transparent - Low THD at all frequencies, at all powers, and all loads for amps. Low IMD, flat FR.

Upper Midrange (Upper Mids, High Mids) - The audio frequencies between 2 kHz and 6 kHz.

Veiled - see Dark

Warm - Emphasis on upper bass and lower mids.

Weighty - Good low frequency response and low THD below about 50 Hz.
 
I look forward reading your contributions.

 
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 6:29 AM Post #2 of 7

khaos974

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When I read the wiki entry, I was amazed at the number of entire describing the ratio between the fundamental and its harmonics: full, thin, lush, body...
As far as I understand, when reproducing a frequency, no harmonics is best (even is second order harmonics are euphonic), the harmonics of an instrument are already on the disc, in the file, it's not up to the transducer to invent them. I think the definitions for those words like full, thin are not really accurate.
 
Aug 2, 2010 at 9:34 PM Post #3 of 7

High_Q

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Nice...
biggrin.gif
  So much more clearer.  I can actually understand these definitions.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 2:23 AM Post #4 of 7

khaos974

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A big point of contention against amp and transducer builders, a lot more often that I would like to, we get a figure like 0.001% for THD.
In fact it means 0.001% distortion at 1kHz, at a specific power just in the middle of the amps power curve, into the easiest load you could find!!!
 
I fear the day we'll get the full THD measures is a dream, but what I'd really hope is that some day we'll get the curves like those (for a speaker amp, the value obviously have to be adapted for a headamp)
THD at 30, 300, 3000, 9000Hz from .05 W to 100W
THD @ 1W into 2, 4, 8 Ohm from 20 to 20000Hz.
 
That day will be a joyous day.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 10:31 AM Post #5 of 7

xnor

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"Analytical - Low THD"
I don't think low THD makes a headphone analytical. The original description is "Highly detailed.", wouldn't that (additionally) suggest treble peak(s)?
 
"Balance - Whether the device is flat or not"
I think that is incorrect. The original description fits better:
"essentially tonal balance, the degree to which one aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized above the rest. Also channel balance, the relative level of the left and right stereo channels."
 
Bass
Probably add a description of sub bass and the lower hearing threshold.
 
Fast 
I think we had a short discussion about it in Tylls measurement thread. The impression of "speed" can also be attributed to a lack of thumping "slow" sub bass and treble peak(s), see grado FR's.
 
Grainy 
maybe resonances / treble spikes (=> higher distortion)
 
Muddy 
I think it's a result of an emphasis on upper bass / lower mids, see HD555/595.
 
PRaT
Some describe it as toe-tapping-factor, which is nonsense imo because it's in the music and not in the equipment. So it's something like saying "look at me, I'm an audiophile and I enjoyed that song with my equipment". It's a bit pathetic to use this word, imo.
 
Soundstage 
Does phase shift really matter as long as it's the same on both speakers?
And it's funny that you mention low crosstalk because I need crossfeed with headphones to really "see" a realistic soundstage.
 
Speed 
more or equally important than IR is FR, see Fast
 
Transparent
also flat FR
 
Transparency can also mean, that you don't hear a difference between a lossy file and the lossless original, which can be achieved with higher bitrates.
 
Aug 3, 2010 at 12:17 PM Post #6 of 7

khaos974

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Quote:
"Analytical - Low THD"
I don't think low THD makes a headphone analytical. The original description is "Highly detailed.", wouldn't that (additionally) suggest treble peak(s)?
It depends on whether you consider analytical as a default or a quality, in the first case it's treble peaks, in the seconds, it's just ttht low distortion allow for hearing minute details.
 
"Balance - Whether the device is flat or not"
I think that is incorrect. The original description fits better:
"essentially tonal balance, the degree to which one aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized above the rest. Also channel balance, the relative level of the left and right stereo channels."
Channel balance is actually belongs to another entry, as well as tonal balance, I will change that.
 
Bass
Probably add a description of sub bass and the lower hearing threshold.
You're referring to the equal loudness contours ? And there's already an entry for sub bass
 
Fast 
I think we had a short discussion about it in Tylls measurement thread. The impression of "speed" can also be attributed to a lack of thumping "slow" sub bass and treble peak(s), see grado FR's.
What is thumping sloww sub bass? more precisions needed to correct, can you put a link to that post?
 
Grainy 
maybe resonances / treble spikes (=> higher distortion)
 
Muddy 
I think it's a result of an emphasis on upper bass / lower mids, see HD555/595.
Hmmm, so it's warmth? Until I get a better definition, the one I used stays.
 
PRaT
Some describe it as toe-tapping-factor, which is nonsense imo because it's in the music and not in the equipment. So it's something like saying "look at me, I'm an audiophile and I enjoyed that song with my equipment". It's a bit pathetic to use this word, imo.
This is why I gave ir a What, translates into what you said.
 
Soundstage 
Does phase shift really matter as long as it's the same on both speakers?
And it's funny that you mention low crosstalk because I need crossfeed with headphones to really "see" a realistic soundstage.
I think the point about phase coherency was to no to get a phase shift depending on the frequency, which would ensure that info like reverb, echoes get reproduced faithfully. I considered crossfeed as a controlled crosstalk while the usual crosstalk is uncontrolled, hence a lot crosstalk level so hat you could crossfeed correctly if needed.
 
Speed 
more or equally important than IR is FR, see Fast precisions needed, see fast
 
Transparent
also flat FR
Forgot it in my haste, will add.
Transparency can also mean, that you don't hear a difference between a lossy file and the lossless original, which can be achieved with higher bitrates.




 

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