Audio Technical Terms And Their Definitions

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ScottH, Mar 1, 2002.

  1. ScottH

    ScottH Producer

    Jan 2, 2001
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    Real Name:
    Scott Hanson
    There a lot of audio buzz words out there that I see whenever anyone is describing how certain components "sound". Some of them I know what they mean, others I don't. The following is a list of some of these terms that seem to pop up the most. Like I said, some of them I understand, some of them I don't...but I thought it would be very helpful to me and the other less-enlightened audiophiles out there if someone with a complete understanding could define these terms. Also, feel free to add other terms that I may have left out...

    Soundstage (this one I get)


    Speaker being "fast" (never knew what this meant)

    Midrange (self-explanatory I suppose...)

    Bright (I think I know what this sounds like)

  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

    May 8, 2001
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    lol -
    welcome to the world of esoteric terms.
    i feel the problem with so many of these terms is that they are too subjective. if i tell you a speaker sounds bright, then that doesn't necessarily mean that you'll agree with me. to you, they may sound dull. so, regardless of how something is described, you must go listen for yourself.
    on the flip side, i suppose if 80% of the people say a speaker sounds warm or bright, you can probably assume it to be a relatively "accurate" statement.
    there i go contradicting myself again. [​IMG]
    well, let's see how i define those terms:
    soundstage: does the music have "depth". do the drums sound like their coming from the back left? is the guitar in the front, just slightly off center?
    imaging: to me, this goes hand-in-hand with soundstage. how accurate and realistic is the sound.
    fast speaker: i think most people refer to how "tight" or "snappy" the bass is.
    mid-range: (very simplified explanation here) most sound is broken into three frequencies. low, mid and hi. lows are stuff like drums and bass. high's are cymbals, etc. i suppose mid is everything else...generally i consider most vocals to be in the mid. most of what you hear is usually the mid-range.
    brightness: typically sound with an emphasis on the highs
    warm: i associate this with a "neutral" sound. not overly bright nor dull.
    i'll be interested to hear other's definitions. [​IMG]
  3. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

    Jan 18, 1999
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    Well, these terms aren't so much "technical" as they are esoteric. I don't know if any "technical" person would use many of them.

  4. RicP

    RicP Screenwriter

    Feb 29, 2000
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    Great explanations Vince. I just want to add a little on the difference between Soundstage and Imaging.
    Soundstage is typically defined as the entire area that the sound takes up when played back on a given system. It should have width -- often extending out past the ends of the speakers -- and it should have depth -- the sound should seem to extend far back between the speakers. Musicians in the background sound like they are in the background, whereas the singer will sound more forward, or closer to you, the listener.
    A Soundstage is good when it extends far beyond the boundaries of the speakers. Meaning that the physical edges of the speakers should not be a "wall" for the sound. When you close your eyes, you should not be able to pinpoint the physical location of the speakers in a recording and system that is properly soundstaging.
    Imaging relates to the individual pieces of the recording. Each musician and instrument will seem to occupy a physical space in your soundstage. The violin will sound as though it is being played at the proper height and you will almost be able to see the violinist pulling the bow across the strings. Similarly, the vocalist should sound like they are standing (or sitting) in the soundstage and should have a real palpable sense about them. You should be able to easily "see" them there, singing.
    Also, each individual instrument should be able to be isolated and not blend into a "mush" so to speak. You should be able to concentrate on the triangle, or the shaker, or the tamborine and hear it very clearly.
    Each system will usually do one or the other very well, but only a very few systems do both exceptionally well.
    My system, for example images like crazy, I have almost perfect -- to me -- imaging, but my soundstage is a little compressed, especially in the depth area. This is a compromise I can live with and I am very happy with the sound that I achieve.
    Quite often it is the Soundstaging and Imaging that make the difference between a $5000 system and a $50,000 system. [​IMG]

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