Are there any hi-fi qualifying words that you find especially appropriate? Inappropriate? Why?

Are there any hi-fi qualifying words that you find especially appropriate? Inappropriate? Why?
Here's one
88% (36 votes)
Can't think of one
12% (5 votes)
Total votes: 41

Glassy highs, "muddy bass" . . . Are there any hi-fi qualifying words that you find especially appropriate? Inappropriate? Why?

Simple Simon's picture

Warm, or "cool." Sorry, but I don't know how temperature equates to sound.

Paul J.  Stiles, Mtn.  View, CA's picture

Air is one of my favorite things to breathe but I do not expect speakers to provide it. Sales people hyped up on whatever sure do know how to throw terms like this around, though.

DAB, Pacific Palisades, CA's picture

Boomy bass and hissy highs sum up the sound of most audiophiles' systems.

H.  Williams, Hollywood Hills's picture

Lifelike never ceases to amaze me when "audiophiles" describe the character of their hi-fi systems. I tell those people to, for God's sake, get out of their listening rooms and see a conceert. After all, we must all keep ourselves honest!

Johannes Turunen, Sweden's picture

Natural. What does that mean? Does such sound exist? Just try to place same speaker in different rooms and you'll know what I mean.

David's picture

Affordable. Particularly when its applied to any piece of equipment costing more than a month's salary.

Joe Hartmann's picture

After buying my first hi-fi and being disappointed, I purchased a new amp and discovered the alternative press. My large advents were much improved but still light years from what I had hoped. One day I stumbled into a store and heard Quads. The salesman told me to hear them because they were "transparent." That became the critical element for me. It maybe more extended, go lower, be more tonality accurate—I can appreciate the effort, but if I lose transparency it's a no sale for me.

Comfortably Numb's picture

Palpable...did I spell that right?'s picture

I have two. First comparing sound to something that makes no since, like "the highs remond me of a Merlot and the mids Thunderbird, while the bass more like Scope (minty). What the hell are you talking about? Make sense. Two is presence! If you mean midrange, say midrange. If yu mean ambience say ambience, or the echo of that particular hall. I have not read or heard the word presence used by someone with a clue. Compare sound to sound. This mixing metaphors is stupid. Like "this wine tasted more like a silk dome tweeter, not a ribbon, or more analog than digital. The idea is to cummunicate not confuse or impress.

Al Marcy's picture

No output.

Al Earz's picture

Shrill, bright, edgy, boomy, in your face, laid back, warm, mellow, and serendipitous. All seem to bring a definition of sound to mind.

Mark D's picture

Yeah, there is an inapproriate one that comes to mind...the term "good value" when it is applied to $50,000 speakers and $100,000 turntables...hmmm value? Maybe Bill Gates would consider that a value but I just cant see it applied this way...

David L.  Wyatt jr.'s picture

Transparent and neutral work for me. That's what I'm looking for.

Brankin's picture

Inappropriate, as in the matter of what the equipment is doing to the recording: Musical, sweet, etc. If the equipment is anything but as neutral as possible it's screwing up the recording. Appropriate: Neutral. Please see the above! What I am willing to pay money for is equipment that plays the recording and editorializes as little as possible - within the limits of my pocketbook, of course!

BILL CRANE's picture

The over use of nebulous words and phrases make many audio reviews a great laugh to the others (non-audiophiles). Are they good or bad characteristics? Some I picked out of one review: “slower delivery”; “lower midrange bloom” (bloom is a current favorite); “bottom end warmth”; “more air”; “top end sheen”; “total impact”. From another review: “a sense of weight and density.” Other accepted classic audobabble includes: bass slam, rhythm and pace and more bass authority. What would any of this shit mean to a live performance?

Justin Singh's picture

Using flawless or perfect, when you can think of something better in that particular area.

tonyE's picture

Signature Edition.

Andrew Maher's picture

I can never work out what certain English hi-fi reviewers mean by the term "bass welly." Another reviewer recently commented on high frequencies that caused pain in tooth cavities.

Jared Gerlach's picture

One of the most descriptive qualifiers for loudspeakers is "brittle." The term just brings forward connotations of sound that I especially dislike.

Jim G.'s picture


Hugo's picture

The term "rhythmic" when describing hardware has to be at the top of my list. Music is rhythmic, not the gear. Imaginative description but ultimately a misguided use of words.

Ron Ramsey's picture

There's a phrase, often found in reviews of modest price speakers: "It sounds better than it has any right to." Nah. Rosa Parks has rights. She can sit anywhere on the bus she pleases. Assigning this "class distinction" to speakers, even $279 a pair speakers, I find it offensive. Please think up another phrase

J.  Sam's picture

Musical. Equipment does not produce notes.

Santiago Fandiño's picture

Measurement related to perception and mood.

Mike Agee's picture

I can think of a few that could be improved upon: To me "cloudy" bass better describes "muddy," "cutting" highs might be better than "bright," since "bright" can be a good thing when compared to "dark." The bigger issue, I think, is inconsistent usage. For many "warmth" refers to an over-stuffed upper bass, for others it is a restrained lower treble, whereas "tube warmth" implies either an ear-friendly tonal balance, the overall gestalt of tubes, or a heinous coloration. "Sweet" can span from luscious to cloying. "Hi-fi" can mean neutral and accurate or colored and fake.

Tom Warren's picture

I love listening to and reading salesmen’s and writers' qualifying adjectives and words of hi-fi gear and recordings. Some words grab me some words pass right by or make me wonder. From a linguist’s point of view without getting specific the more exotic all the more interesting. The idea is to get one thinking and express impressions.

dismord's picture


OvenMaster's picture

The worst offender is "rhythm n' pace". I have yet to see a concrete definition of this vague "quality". Whenever I see it in ANY publication, I am simply disgusted. Snobbery at its nadir.

Jeff's picture

Muddy bass is a good one -common to most ported speakers - bass just isn't as clear as it is in live music - a drum sounds like a thud.

amc-TX's picture

I sell this stuff for a living, so I have to read the reviews. Whether I want to or not. Here are the terms I am completely sick of, along with suggestions for their appropriate disposal: "Stentorian bass" is a tweedy piece of impressive-sounding pomposity. It deserves to be bound, gagged and buried alive in a shallow grave behind the slaugterhouse whence it came. "Holographic" requires a thorough piping in an anonymous dark alley by well paid thugs. And when they are done, have them throw a few bricks through "Fruity bass"'s nearby window. "Liquid" and "Luscious", the midrange twins, need to experience firsthand the more novel uses of garden hose and duct tape. Likewise for "Buttery", but with an extra kick in the ribs for making me hungry. "Relative bargain" ? Cement boots and a midnight boatride. And tie that $15k c-j preamp around his gawky pencil neck, while you're at it. "Best Ever", "New Reference" and "A New Standard", the three horsemen of hype? One word: Cannonoscopy. "Continuousness" should be left sitting in the nut house where it belongs, knitting a sweater that isn't there. "Revolutionary" and "Proprietary"- Drowned in bus station toilet. "Trickle down"- Hung by its own necktie. And for the hundreds of other I have successfully forgotten: Napalm. Then, when all of this brutality is complete, go back and get all of those templates so many of you have been writing from over the past few years and burn them in the desert. I'll pay for the beer, ice and gas. Feel free to bring audio reviewing back to reality at any time. I would appreciate it, as would the millions of potential new customers and community members out there.