Please describe *Bright *Warm *Neutral sounds.

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by james_stewart, May 19, 2005.

  1. james_stewart

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    I'm just starting my venture into audiophile world. I'm familiar with the terms yet I'm not sure how to pinpoint them. My goal is to achieve the most realistic sound so I'm trying to educate myself, I've read alot but I haven't found any threads discussing this question.

    I'm currently using a Pioneer 1014 with Aperion satellite speakers (1" Audiophile-Grade Silk-Dome Tweeter
    4” Custom Poly Midrange).

    What do I listen for to conclude what is bright, warm, or neutral?

    What determines bright, warm, and neutral?

    Do you experts test with a certain DVD for HT and a certain CD for music?

    ~james
     
  2. John S

    John S Producer

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    It is a little tough to really test, as the speakers influence this greatly.

    I'd rate the 1014 as neutral I suppose.

    Bright, general seems to put emphasis on the higher frequencies.

    Warm tends to put emphasis on the lower frequencies.

    Neutral doesn't lean either way....

    The idea is the over bright speakers are best paired with warm amps/avr's.
     
  3. Victor Ferguson

    Victor Ferguson Stunt Coordinator

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    I think your room accoustics will have as much to do with your percieivng a "bright" or "nuetral" tone. I also think the only way you will be able to tell the difference is to audition a track on a few different setups so that you can hear the difference. Be sure to use the same source material each time as recordings vary themselves.
     
  4. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    More accurate terminology should be "Warm" vs. "Cool" or "Bright" (if you must) vs. "Dark". In other words, "warm" is not the opposite of "bright".
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    It's all personal opinion. Someone on here put it the best, IMO: "One person's bright, is another person's detailed." You can get a general idea of "bright" or "warm" for a particular item from asking people, but you ultimately still have to go listen to them yourself.
     
  6. Wayde_R

    Wayde_R Stunt Coordinator

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    The "warm" sounds your hearing is an audiophile getting his wings... oh sorry, wrong James Stewart.

    Anyway, you raise great questions. I personally love to read these responses and hope this threat stays alive awhile.

    It is my contention that a lot of hooey goes into adjectives to describe sound. Sorry if I'm coming on strong, sometimes it does fit, but personally I think we should try to be more creative than to use the cliched descriptions for tonal qualities that have a vague psudo-scientific definition.

    I've heard people talk about pairing a "warm" amp with a neutral set of speakers... etc. But nobody can really tell me exactly what's what and how it's going to work in my living room. It's garbage. As mentioned earlier room acoustics have a lot to do with tonal qualities of your audio gear. Your bass might be dampened by couches and carpets. Or your treble might be augmented by wooden floors. Looking at a room will give you a great idea of any system's tonal qualities.

    What about the recording itself? My NIN CD sounds anything but warm. But it's hard to say my Aimee Mann CD is harsh or bright. I personally try to avoid using those particular adjectives because they're so overused. It's like calling an actor in a movie "stiff". Sure there might be some technical definition for the term but if that's the case why not use the technical definition, just say: "I hear too much empahsis on the 1Khz + range, it sounds too forceful for my taste, resuling in a tinny, thin sound.

    All you can do is train your ears to listen to qualities. Learn to recognize what you yourself like in sound.
     
  7. AlbertD

    AlbertD Stunt Coordinator

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    I couldn't agree more with John. I have Triangle speakers. They have a reputation of being very forward or bright speakers. Yet to me, they sound wonderful, the best I have owned and I have owned quite a few all the way to Dunlavy. I don't know if anybody else said it or not but I have posted many times that ones person's bright is another person's detailed, for example my wonderfully detailed Triangles. [​IMG]
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Venturing into audiophile world is often like going to a psychic fair with swamis, faith healers, chicken bone readers, etc. and trying to find the first aid tent where you can get something that actually takes care of the scrape on your knee. BTW, that's also where you'll find the faith healers that also got cut.

    I don't put too much stock into this pairing of certain types of speakers with only certain types of receivers based upon some sort of warm/cool/neutral perception. In fact, you'll find if you ask that question at different times and on different websites and of different people, you'll get a host of answers. Kind of like asking what's 2+2 and getting a whole bunch of different answers. Generally speaking, when the answers are scattered like that, then we've got a problem, Houston.

    What makes sense to me in this regard is to first choose your speakers. Then if you're going with a receiver, select brands and models that can properly power your speakers to the levels you're going to be listening to. After that, tentatively select the ones that meet your target price remembering the old adage, that the one you want really costs just a bit more than the one you bought. Then start looking at the features. Maybe there's other things you want the unit to do like video switching between multiple sources. Continue to narrow it down. Do some searches and ask some questions about reliability issues. Draw some inferences. Find out where you can get the unit serviced. There's been more than a few posts made by people who bought something and find that they'll have to ship the unit and eat the s/h one way. Do a couple of back and forths on that and you'll find that they now hate that brand when what they really ought to hate is their poor selection process.

    The way a speaker behaves is based on a lot of different factors. For starters, all speakers don't radiate sound uniformly and their response differs both vertically and horizontally not to mention that the response is frequency dependent. Because of this, where they're placed in your room, their distance from the rear and side walls, how or if they're angled, how much they're raised off the floor, where you're sitting in relation to them, have an effect on the distribution of energy that reaches your ears. Further, whether you've got a sub and how good of a job you've done integrating can change the perception of a 'bright' speaker into one that's now reasonably properly balanced.

    In context with what was said above, what your room is like also has a large effect on how your speakers will sound. Whether your room is lively because of bare walls and wood or tile floors or somewhat deadened because you've got a fair amount of furniture, wall to wall carpeting, or stuff on the walls to aborb/diffuse the sound.

    All this gets complicated, well sometimes it does, because you or your signficant other have a lot to say about where those speakers are going to go, which may not be the best places, due to a sense of style.

    My recommendation is that you think about some of those things above and maybe hit up websites or magazines like Sound & Vision, StereoPhile, etc. for some general guidelines on speaker placement. Also, your local library probably has books written by Robert Harley or Howard Ferstler that make for an entertaining read on this.
     
  9. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    I find the terms bright, neutral, and warm to be helpful in getting a general idea of how something, especially speakers, will sound. Like most things on these forums, I take these terms with a grain of salt and understand they are very subjective. About the most useless adjective I've ever read that described a speaker's sound was chocolaty. What the hell does that mean? A frozen chocolate bar will make a cracking sound when you bite into it, and you can make slurping sounds with a melted one[​IMG]
     
  10. FeisalK

    FeisalK Screenwriter

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  11. Wayde_R

    Wayde_R Stunt Coordinator

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    Great read as always Chu.
     
  12. Legairre

    Legairre Supporting Actor

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    I know everyone has their own definition but here's how I determine bright, warm and neutral when auditioning equipment.

    To me bright and detailed are NOT the same.

    Bright: higher frequencies are projected forward to the extent that they cause me listener fatigue and hurt my ears. Bright speakers make me want to turn the volume down.

    Detailed: a detailed speaker is a speaker where higher frequencies are projected forward without being painfull, for instance a guitar, piano and voices seem to be closer to me and stand out more than the other instruments(forward souding).

    Warm: higher frequencies are not emphasized and for instance a guitar, piano and voices seem to be farther away from me than the other instruments(laid back sounding)

    neutral: all the instruments seem to be the same distance from me. No one instrument or voice is closer or farther away than another.
     
  13. Wayde_R

    Wayde_R Stunt Coordinator

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    The funny thing to me is when someone says their gear is neutral, as if that's some revolutionary idea. Isn't the goal of ALL hi-fi gear to be as acoustically neutral as possible? The idea of colouration is that it's a necessary evil due to sound reproduction being a mechanical process. So, individuals might take warm over laid back or bright might get your attention in the audio superstore but isn't so good in the long term. But the goal should be neutral, should it not? And it's a goal that is seldom if ever acheived.
     
  14. AlbertD

    AlbertD Stunt Coordinator

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    Actually various "colorations" of sound from speakers and receivers can sometimes be a good thing. For example, as my hearing has deteriorated over the years, I find that some speakers that are labeled "bright" actually sound much better to me than some others. I have heard some people mention, for example, that Triangle speakers are "forward" or "bright", but to me, they sound fantastic. Full, lush, and rich, especially in the midrange. Much better than the Dunlavy's I replaced them with, which by the way had a reputation of being neutral. Now, I am not arguing that those Dunlavy's are worse or better, or that any speaker is better or worse. I also agree that most of us are searching for a sound that reproduces the sound exactly as it was recorded, which in most cases, can be described as a neutral sound. But in our search for that neutral sound there are a lot of variables and, in my case, deteriorating hearing is one of them. Which is why I believe that one person's bright is another person's detailed or warm. [​IMG]
     
  15. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Interestingly, I've heard a lot of people describe Paradigm speakers and Mackie monitors are bright when they both have very flat frequency responses and would probably be considered neutral in terms of this measurement.

    I think it boils down to personal preference which is why there are so many speakers and components that sound differently. I personally like to hear detail when listening to music, so I tend to shy away from warm electronics and speakers. This doesn't make the others wrong, and it simply means that I prefer one sound to the other.

    Overall, I find the terms helpful in getting a basic idea of how something sounds, but I don't rely solely on these or what anyone else says. I like to listen and then make up my mind.
     

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