The Audiophile Dictionary

Updated: Oct 13

When you're speaking to a quote on quote "Audiophile" you are going to need this.


Accurate- The music is unaltered by the recording or playback equipment. Ideally, to sound identical to the original music.


Aggressive- Forward and bright sonic character.


Airy- Spacious. Open. Instruments sound like they are surrounded by a large reflective space full of air. Good reproduction of high-frequency reflections. High-frequency response extends to 15 or 20 kHz.


Ambiance- Impression of an acoustic space, such as the performing hall in which a recording was made.


Analytical- Highly detailed.


Articulate- Intelligibility of voice(s) and instruments and the interactions between them.


Attack- The leading edge of a note and the ability of a system to reproduce the attack transients in music.


Attack (2)- The time taken for a musical note to reach its peak amplitude eg. notes will tend to sound more defined rather than blended with other notes.


Balance- essentially tonal balance, the degree to which one aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized above the rest. Also channel balance, the relative level of the left and right stereo channels.


Bass- Theaudiofrequencies between about 60Hz and 250Hz.


Bassy- Emphasized Bass.


Blanketed- Weak highs, as if a blanket were put over the speakers.


Bloated- Excessive mid bass around 250 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies, low-frequency resonances. See tubby.


Blurred- Poor transient response. Vague stereo imaging not focused.


Body- Fullness of sound, with particular emphasis on upper bass; opposite of Thin.


Boomy- Excessive bass around 125 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies or low-frequency resonances.


Boxy- Having resonances as if the music were enclosed in a box. Sometimes an emphasis around 250 to 500 Hz.


Breathy- Audible breath sounds in woodwinds and reeds such as flute or sax. Good response in the upper mids or highs.


Bright- A sound that emphasizes the upper midrange/lower treble. Harmonics are strong relative to fundamentals.


Brilliance- The 6kHz to 16kHz range controls the brilliance and clarity of sounds. Too much emphasis in this range can produce sibilance on the vocals.




Chesty- The vocalist sounds like their chest is too big. A bump in the low-frequency response around 125 to 250 Hz.


Clear- See Transparent.


Closed- A closed-in sound lacking in openness, delicacy, air, and fine detail usually caused by Roll-off above 10kHz; in contrast to Open.


Congested- Smeared, confused, muddy, and flat; lacking transparency.


Coloured- Having timbres that are not true to life. Non-flat response; peaks or dips.


Cool- Moderately deficient in body and warmth, due to progressive attenuation of frequencies below about 150Hz.


Crisp- Extended high-frequency response, especially with cymbals.


Dark- A tonal balance that tilts downwards with increasing frequency. Opposite of bright. Weak high frequencies.


Decay- The fadeout of a note, it follows the attack.


Definition (or resolution)- The ability of a component to reveal the subtle information that is fundamental to high fidelity sound.


Delicate- High frequencies extending to 15 or 20 kHz without peaks.


Depth- A sense of distance (near to far) of different instruments.


Detail- The most delicate elements of the original sound and those which are the first to disappear with lesser equipment.


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


Dry- Lack of reverberation or delay as produced by a damped environment. May comes across as fine-grained and lean. Opposite of Wet.


Dull- See Dark.


Dynamic- The suggestion of energy and wide dynamics. Related to perceived speed as well as contrasts in volume both large and small.


Edgy- Too much high-frequency response. Trebly. Harmonics are too strong relative to the fundamentals. Distorted, having unwanted harmonics that add an edge or raspiness.


Euphonic- An appealing form of distortion that generally enhances perceived fidelity, often ascribed to the harmonic elaborations of some valve amps.


Fast- Good reproduction of rapid transients which increase the sense of realism and "snap".


Fat- See Full and Warm. Or, spatially diffuse; a sound is panned to one channel, delayed, and then the delayed sound is panned to the other channel. Or, slightly distorted with analog tape distortion or tube distortion.


Focus- A strong, precise sense of image projection.


Forward(ness)- Similar to an aggressive sound, a sense of image being projected in front of the speakers and of music being forced upon the listener. Compare "Laid-back".


Full- Strong fundamentals relative to harmonics. It has a good low-frequency response, not necessarily extended, but with adequate level around 100 to 300 Hz. Male voices are full around 125 Hz; female voices and violins are full around 250 Hz; sax is full around 250 to 400 Hz. Opposite of thin.


Gentle- Opposite of edgy. The harmonics (of the highs and upper mids) are not exaggerated, or may even be weak.


Grainy- A slightly raw, exposed sound which lacks finesse. Not liquid or fluid.


Grip- A sense of control and sturdiness in the bass.


Grungy- Lots of harmonic or I.M. (Intermodulation) distortion.


Hard- Too much upper midrange, usually around 3 kHz. Or, good transient response, as if the sound is hitting you hard. Uncomfortable, forward, aggressive sound with a metallic tinge.


Harsh- Grating, abrasive. Too much upper midrange. Peaks in the frequency response between 2 and 6 kHz. Or, excessive phase shift in a digital recorder's low pass filter.


Headstage- The perception of the Soundstage while listening to headphones.


Highs- Theaudiofrequencies above about 6000 Hz.


High Midrange (High Mids, Upper Mids)- Theaudiofrequencies between about 2kHz and 6kHz.