Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Glossary: D-E


damping The amount of control an amplifier seems to impose on a woofer. Underdamping causes loose, heavy bass; overdamping yields very tight but lean bass.

dark A warm, mellow, excessively rich quality in reproduced sound. The audible effect of a frequency response which is clockwise-tilted across the entire range, so that output diminishes with increasing frequency. Compare "light."

dead Dull and lifeless.

decay The reverberant fadeout of a musical sound after it has ceased. Compare "attack."

deep bass Frequencies below 40Hz.

definition (also resolution) That quality of sound reproduction which enables the listener to distinguish between, and follow the melodic lines of, the individual voices or instruments comprising a large performing group. See "focus."

delicacy The reproduction of very subtle, very faint details of musical sound, such as the fingertip-friction sounds produced when a guitar or a harp is played. See "low-level detail."

depth The illusion of acoustical distance receding behind the loudspeaker plane, giving the impression of listening through the loudspeakers into the original performing space, rather than to them. See "layering," "transparency." Compare "flat."

detail The subtlest, most delicate parts of the original sound, which are usually the first things lost by imperfect components. See "low-level detail." Compare "haze," "smearing," "veiling."

diffuse Reproduction which is severely deficient in detail and imaging specificity; confused, muddled.

dip A narrow area of depression within an otherwise flat frequency-response curve. Compare "dished," "humped."

dirty Sound reproduction which is fuzzy, cruddy, or spiky.

direct sound A sound reaching the ears in a straight line from its source. The direct sounds are always the first sounds heard. The "critical distance" from a soundsource is when the spl of the direct sound is equal to that of the reverberant field. See "far field," "near field," "precedence effect." Compare "reflected sound," "reverberation."

discontinuity A change of timbre or coloration due to the signal's transition, in a multi-way speaker system, from one driver to another having dissimilar coloration.

dished, dished-down Describes a frequency response that is depressed through the entire middle range. The sound has too much bass and treble, exaggerated depth, and a laid-back, lifeless quality. Compare "forward."

dissonant Unpleasant to the ear; ugly-sounding. Dissonance is an imperfection only when the music is not supposed to sound dissonant. Compare "consonant."

distortion 1) Any unintentional or undesirable change in an audio signal. 2) An overlay of spurious roughness, fuzziness, harshness, or stridency in reproduced sound.

double (or dual) mono Reproduction of a monophonic signal through both channels/speakers of a stereo system, as when a preamplifier's mode switch is set to A+B (L+R). Compare "single mono."

dramatic Describing a perceived difference between components: Very noticeable, unmistakable. A term misused by audio reviewers to demonstrate how incredibly sensitive they are to barely audible differences. See "audibility."

dry 1) Describing the texture of reproduced sound: very fine-grained, chalky. 2) Describing an acoustical space: deficient in reverberation or having a very short reverberation time. 3) Describing bass quality: lean, overdamped.

dull Lifeless, muffled, veiled. Same as "soft," only more so. The audible effect of HF rolloff setting in at around 5kHz.

dynamic Giving an impression of wide dynamic range; punchy. This is related to system speed as well as to volume contrast.

dynamic range 1) Pertaining to a signal: the ratio between the loudest and the quietest passages. 2) Pertaining to a component: the ratio between its no-signal noise and the loudest peak it will pass without distortion.


ease Pertains to reproduction which sounds effortless, free from strain.

echo In an acoustical space: the repetition of a sound due to reflection of the original sound from a room boundary. See "hand-clap test," "fluttery," "plastery," "slap."

echoey, echoic Pertaining to an acoustical space having excessive reverberation. Can also (rarely) be characteristic of a loudspeaker with excessive mid-frequency mechanical resonances.

"ee" (rhymes with "we") A vowel coloration caused by a frequency-response peak centered around 3.5kHz.

effortless Unstrained; showing no signs of audible stress during loud passages. Compare "strained."

"eh" (as in "bed") A vowel coloration caused by a frequency-response peak centered around 2kHz.

element One of the constituent parts of a sonic characteristic. Bass, midrange, and treble are elements of frequency response. Depth and breadth are elements of soundstaging.

error of commission Signal degradation due to the addition of sounds that were not present in the original signal. Distortion and coloration are examples of errors of commission.

error of omission Signal degradation due to the loss of information that was present in the original signal. Smearing and treble loss are examples of errors of omission.

etched Very crisp and sharply outlined, focused to an almost excessive degree.

euphonic Pleasing to the ear. In audio, "euphonic" has a connotation of exaggerated richness rather than literal accuracy.

extension The usable limits of a component's frequency range.

extreme highs The range of audible frequencies above 10kHz.