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A Glossary Of Commonly Used Sound/Audio Terms
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DARK: Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.

DELICATE: High frequencies extending to 15 or 20 kHz without peaks. A sweet, airy, open sound with strings or acoustic guitar.

DEPTH: A sense of closeness and farness of instruments, caused by mic’ing them at different distances. Good transient response that reveals the direct/reflected sound ratio.

DETAILED: Easy to hear tiny details in the music; articulate. Adequate high-frequency response, sharp transient response.

DISTANT: Too much leakage. Low direct-to-reverb ratio.

DRY: Without effects. Not spacious. Reverb tends towards mono instead of spreading out. Overdamped transient response.

DULL: See Dark.

ECHOEY: Having audible echoes or reverberation.

EDGY: Too much high frequencies. Trebley. Harmonics are too strong relative to the fundamentals. When you view the waveform on an oscilloscope, it even looks edgy or jagged, because of excessive high frequencies. Distorted, having unwanted harmonics that add an edge or raspiness to the sound. 

EFFORTLESS: Low distortion, usually coupled with flat response. 

ETCHED: Clear but verging on edgy. Emphasis around 10 kHz or higher. 

FAT: See Full and Warm. Also, a diffuse spatial effect. Also, smeared out in time, with some reverberant decay.  Also, the sound of a snare drum tuned low.

FOCUSED: Referring to the image of a musical instrument which is easy to localize, pinpointed, having a small spatial spread. 

FORWARD: Sounding close to the listener.. Emphasis around 2 kHz to 5 kHz. 

FULL: Opposite of thin. Strong fundamentals relative to harmonics. Good low-frequency response, not necessarily extended, but with adequate level around 100 to 300 Hz. 

GENTLE: Opposite of edgy. The harmonics—highs and upper mids—are not exaggerated, or may even be weak. 

GLARE, GLASSY: A little less extreme than edgy. A little too bright or trebley. 

GRAINY: The music sounds like it’s segmented into little grains, rather than flowing in one continuous piece. Not liquid or fluid. Suffering from harmonic or I.M. distortion. Some early A/D converters sounded grainy, as do current ones of inferior design. “Powdery” is finer than “grainy”! 

GRUNGY: Lots of harmonic or I.M. distortion. 


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