Difference between revisions of "Words describing sound"

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Revision as of 00:10, 24 July 2018

Some times its hard to find the right Words describing sound .

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.

Slightly more professional terms

These are terms many sound engineers use, even though the definitions listed here are certainly not set in stone. In fact, I double checked these with a pink noise + EQ listening test before writing them down. At least, I don't think they're far off. First JoaCHIP's preception of things. See also this visualization

Sound word Frequency
Ultra sub bass 20-40 Hz
Sub bass 40-80 Hz
Bass 80-180 Hz
Low mids 180-400 Hz
Mids 400-1200 Hz
High mids 1200-3000 Hz
Treble 3000-8000 Hz
High treble 8000-14000 Hz
"Air" 14000-20000 Hz

Same table according to www.teachmeaudio.com

Sound word Frequency
Sub-bass 20-60 Hz
Bass 60-250 Hz
Low mids 250-500 Hz
Mids 500-2000 Hz
High mids 2000-4000 Hz
Presence 4000-6000 Hz
Brilliance 6000-20000 Hz

And there's a rather detailed table at www.crutchfield.com which also divides the bass into three areas:

Sound word Frequency
Sub bass 16-40 Hz
Mid bass 40-100 Hz
Upper bass 100-250 Hz
Low mids 250-500 Hz
Mids 500-1000 Hz
High mids 1000-2000 Hz
Low treble 2000-3500 Hz
Mid treble 3500-6000 Hz
High treble 6000-10000 Hz
"Top octave" (air) 10000-20000 Hz

According to sandiegotroubadour.com which I think seems slightly odd:

Sound word Frequency
Bass 10-100 Hz
"Mid bass" 100-300 Hz
Low mids 300-600 Hz
Mids 600-1200 Hz
High mids 1200-2400 Hz
Low treble 2400-4800 Hz
Mid treble 4800-9600 Hz
High treble 9600-20000 Hz

Yet another list at www.headphonezone.in lacks the "mids" area:

Sound word Frequency
Sub bass 20-60 Hz
Bass 60-200 Hz
Low mids 200-1000 Hz
High mids 1000-5000 Hz
Treble 5000-20000 Hz