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A Glossary Of Commonly Used Sound/Audio Terms
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HARD: Too much upper midrange, usually around 3 kHz. Or, good transient response, as if the sound is hitting you hard. 

HARSH: Too much upper midrange. Peaks in the frequency response from 2 kHz to 6 kHz. Or, excessive phase shift. 

HEAVY: Good low-frequency response below about 50 Hz. Suggesting great
weight or power, like a diesel locomotive or thunder. 

HOLLOW: See Honky. Or, too much reverberation. Or, a mid-frequency dip. Or comb filtering.

HONKY: The music sounds the way your voice sounds when you cup your hands around your mouth. A bump in the response around 500 to 700 Hz. 

IN YOUR FACE: Dry (without effects, without reverb), possibly with compression.

LIQUID: Opposite of grainy. A sense of seamless flowing of the music. Flat response and low distortion. High frequencies are flat or reduced relative to mids and lows. 

LOW-FI: Short for low fidelity. “Trashy” sounding. Tinny, distorted, noisy, or muddy. 

MELLOW: Reduced high frequencies, not edgy. 

MUDDY: Not clear. Weak harmonics, smeared time response, I.M. distortion. Too much reverb at low frequencies. Too much emphasis around 200 to 350 Hz. Too much leakage.

MUFFLED: The music sounds covered up. Weak highs or weak upper mids. 

MUSICAL: Conveying emotion. Flat response, low distortion, no edginess. 

NASAL: The vocalist sounds as if he or she is singing with the nose closed. Also applies to strings. Bump in the response around 500 to 1000 Hz. See Honky. 

NEUTRAL: Accurate tonal reproduction. No obvious colorations. No serious peaks or dips in the frequency response. 

PAPERY: Referring to a kick drum that has too much output around 400 to 600 Hz. 

PHASEY: Having phase interference (comb filtering). The sound of a direct signal and its delayed repetition mixed to the same channel (delay usually under 20 msec). Might be due to multiple mics picking up the same source, or one mic picking up direct sound and delayed reflected sound. Or a delayed signal mixed with itself undelayed. Or, some opposite-polarity crosstalk between stereo channels. Or one monitor speaker is reversed in polarity.

PINCHED: Narrowband. Midrange or upper-midrange peak in the frequency response. Pinched dynamics are overly compressed. 

PIERCING: Strident, hard on the ears, screechy. Having sharp, narrow peaks in the response around 3 kHz to 10 kHz. 

PRESENT, PRESENCE: Adequate or emphasized response around 5 kHz for most instruments, or around 2 to 5 kHz for kick drum and bass. Having some edge, punch, detail, closeness, and clarity. 

PUFFY: Bump in the response around 400 to 700 Hz. 

PUNCHY: Good reproduction of dynamics. Good transient response. Or conversely, referring to highly compressed transients (especially snare drum and kick drum) that sound like hitting a punching bag. Sometimes a bump around 5 kHz or 200 Hz. 


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