Defining Audio Terms, Hawk take a look please.


Hi Hawk,
I don't understand the most of terms you use
(the experts on audio) on defining the audio
terms for receivers and speakers (e.g laidback,
forward, bright, warm, etc). I have found this
website where defines some of these terms.
I wonder if these have the same meaning that
those you use.

If you know another website for further information let me know please.
Thanks in advance.

Wow thats interesting, I am now in search for a "plummy" receiver!!! There definition= "fat,rich,lush sounding"........

Sorry if I am not communicating what I mean--I am trying, and I am also not trying to be a snob about it, but trying to charecterize the sound that I hear comming from audio components to the best of my ability.

Yes, the Stereophile glossary pretty well covers it! I couldn't believe this ariticle as there were a lot of terms I had never used or heard before. Many of these come from the British audio press, which can be very colorful (or is it "colourful") in its descriptions.

When I use an adjective to describe the sound, it is in relation to other products within the same price range. So for example, if I describe an H/K or Pioneer Elite as "laid back" I do mean the opposite of "forward." It is the way it sounds to me compared to products from other manufacturers. And, as I have said many times, almost all do not have a perjorative meaning, e.g., when I describe something as "bright" I do not mean it sounds bad. It is just more forward, with an exaggerated energy in the 4-8 khz range, just as described by the glossary. This must be taken into account when choosing other components, especially speakers. If I think a product sounds bad, i.e., the Yamaha RX-V630, I say so.

You have now armed me with a very dangerous weapon! I can now describe a product as "spitty!"

Hello Hawk

This post was due to my poor knowledge about
the terms used here and what they really mean;
You say, in general; "I prefer a warm receiver"
But i don't know what's warm, or if a receiver
can be warm and laidback at same time or
bright and forward or....Here comes my confusion,
H/K is warm but also laidback however NAD is
warm but it's not laidback and so on....

When it's time to choose some speakers for a
given God; this speaker is forward and matches well with X but that speaker not...

Well, I don't know if I explain it well...
Could you give me an explanation about these terms and my confusion ?.

Thanks again for your time and effort. :-)

P.S: I'm Spaniard and my english is not good enough.


Actually, your English is quite good. Very easy to understand.

I too am new to this, so the terms used are a bit on the confusing side, but that's mostly just because I haven't experienced enough variety to be able to assoicate a description with what the actual sound quality is like.

Its like wine tasting. All of the description in the world won't do you any good until you've gone out and sampled enough to be able to understand what they're trying to say.

Go out and listen a lot, to many brands, and eventually it'll start making sense. :)

Hawk, 4-8Khz is it usually the mid? So a "shouting" mid would be considered bright ?


I am following you as well. I am again trying to use language to explain differences in sound. Thus it is inherently a comparison between two different sounds. This is really pretty tough to explain.

I agree with DWK that you actually need to experience a few to understand what is meant. It might be instructive to compare some opposites. To do this, you must hear the different receivers at the same place, using the same speakers and the same source material. So, in the receiver range, if you can compare a Yamaha with a Harman/Kardon, you will hear a Yamaha receiver which tends to be brighter and forward sounding against a Harman/Kardon that I think is warmer and laid back (relaxed) sounding. The NAD also has a certain measure of "warmth", but it is not nearly so laid back as the H/K. In other words, warmth and laid back are not the same thing.


Thanks for your recommendations.
I'll have to learn myself alot.

I'll continue reading all the posts as possible
since I learn so much here.


John A.
A lot of reviewers like to show off their wide English vocabularies, writing as if to fellow literary cogniscenti. They are trying to say something about themselves, not the equipment. In October Hi-Fi News (UK) a DVD player has "bass a little 'one note and wooden' ... while the balance was a bit bright, untidy and lean, at least the musical performance bubbled through, instead of collapsing into an oppressive cacophony...the overall balance wasn't quite as warm or 'fruity' as we would have liked." I would not worry about words like these, I think they have no meaning. You have a good definition of "bright" from Hawk. How that can apply to balance I do not know. I am a native English speaker and have no idea what that extract could mean.
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