Difference between revisions of "Words describing sound"

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Revision as of 23:45, 31 October 2016

People often need to describe sound to each other, but the words for such descriptions are not well defined, unscientific, and can vary from person to person. This is a rather futile attempt to list and describe them.

Sound word What it really means to a sound technician
Bass / Low Low frequencies.
Treble / High High frequencies.
Warm More bass and low mids, less treble
Cold Less bass and low mids, more treble.
Dry Feeling empty, lacking effects, lacking instruments to fill out the soundscape.
Aggressive Resemblance with white noise, lots of (dis)harmonics.
Digital Unclear yet over-emphasized treble, such as the one caused by poor resampling or aliasing.
Fat / phat Pleasing, using a frequency area at least as wide as hoped for.
Thin Lacking frequencies that are expected.
Muffled Lacking treble, (or sometimes lacking transients.)
Booming Having too much sound at one single frequency band in the bass or low mids.
Clean Lack of noise, not being confusing to listen to in terms of complexity.
Busy Being too complex, with too many instruments that are hard to tell apart.
Punchy Pronounced transients, having lots of dynamics.
Flat Lack of transients, not having proper dynamics, lack of bass and treble.
Closed Having an uneven frequency response, having phase problems.
Open Having a wide and flat frequency response without too many instruments in the same frequency area and not too many problems with the phase.
Funky Having lots of beats placed in-between the main beats, for example on the odd 8th or odd 16th subdivisions.
Crunchy Lots of unexpected frequencies and harmonics in the high frequencies.
Hollow Lacking in the mid frequency area.
Retro / vintage / old-school Resembling the output of old analog audio equipment, which will often affect the high frequency range more. Typical features are noise, lack of treble, abundance of mid area frequencies, and generally a sort of distortion that is perceived as pleasant, even though this can be subjective.
Muddy When instruments in the low frequencies are difficult to tell apart.
Rumbling Too much low frequency content that appears to be unrelated to the intended sound content.