Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Glossary: F-H


far field Pertains to that range of listening distances in which the predominant sounds reaching the ears are reflections from room boundaries.

fast Giving an impression of extremely rapid reaction time, which allows a reproducing system to "keep up with" the signal fed to it. (A "fast woofer" would seem to be an oxymoron, but this usage refers to a woofer tuning that does not boom, make the music sound "slow," obscure musical phrasing, or lead to "one-note bass.") Similar to "taut," but referring to the entire audio-frequency range instead of just the bass.

fat The sonic effect of a moderate exaggeration of the mid- and upper-bass ranges. Excessively "warm."

flanging See "comb filtering."

flat 1) Having a subjectively uniform frequency response, free from humps and dips. 2) Deficient in or lacking in soundstage depth, resulting in the impression that all reproduced sound sources are the same distance from the listener.

floating A positive attribute that pertains to soundstaging in which the phantom images seem to exist independently of the loudspeaker positions, giving the impression that the speakers are absent. See "beyond-the-speakers imaging," "depth," "layering." Compare "flat," "vagueness," "wander."

fluttery Pertains to a repeated echo recurring at a rate of about 10 repetitions per second, common to small, bare-walled acoustical spaces. See "hand-clap test." Compare "plastery," "slap."

focus The quality of being clearly defined, with sharply outlined phantom images. Focus has also been described as the enhanced ability to hear the brief moments of silence between the musical impulses in reproduced sound.

forward, forwardness A quality of reproduction which seems to place sound sources closer than they were recorded. Usually the result of a humped midrange, plus a narrow horizontal dispersion pattern from the loudspeaker. See "Row-A sound." Compare "laid-back."

frequency range A range of frequencies stated without level limits: ie, "The upper bass covers the frequency range 80-160Hz."

frequency (or amplitude) response 1) A range of frequencies stated with level limits: ie, "The woofer's response was 20-160Hz ±3dB." 2) The uniformity with which a system or individual component sounds as if it reproduces the range of audible frequencies. Equal input levels at all frequencies should be reproduced by a system with subjectively equal output.

fuzz, fuzziness A coarse but soft-edged texturing of reproduced sound. Like "hash," but with muffled-sounding spikes.


gestalt response The evocation of a complete memory recognition by an incomplete set of sensory cues. A gestalt response to the few things an audio system does outstandingly well can make imperfect reproduction seem more realistic than it actually is.

glare An unpleasant quality of hardness or brightness, due to excessive low- or mid-treble energy.

glassy Very bright.

golden A euphonic coloration characterized by roundness, richness, sweetness, and liquidity.

grainy A moderate texturing of reproduced sound. The sonic equivalent of grain in a photograph. Coarser than dry but finer than gritty.

gritty A harsh, coarse-grained texturing of reproduced sound. The continuum of energy seems to be composed of discrete, sharp-edged particles.

grunge Sonic dirt, crud, roughness. Muffled grittiness.

gutsy Ballsy.

gutty Rosinous.


hangover A tendency for reproduced sounds to last longer than they should. Most noticeable at low frequencies, where it obscures detail.

hand-clap test The use of hand claps to assess the reverberant properties of a room. See "fluttery," "plastery," "slap."

hard Tending toward steeliness, but not quite shrill. Often the result of a moderate frequency-response hump centered around 6kHz, sometimes also caused by small amounts of distortion.

harsh Gratingly unpleasant to the ear.

hash A very coarse texturing of the sound, characterized by a sharp-edged, spiky roughness. Caused by severe distortion with strong transient content, as from a grossly mistracking phono cartridge.

haze, haziness A moderate smearing of detail and focus. The audible equivalent of viewing something through a gauzy veil or a dirty window.

heavy Excessively bassy.

heft Pertains to bass which has weight, solidity, and visceral power.

height The usually inadvertent production of vertical directional cues, which make some instruments sound as if they are above or below the other performers. See "soundstaging."

HF High frequency(ies).

high-end Pertains a) to sound that closely approaches the real thing, b) to audio equipment whose performance is near the top of the quality scale, and often the price scale.

high-end audio The pursuit of and business of realistic sound reproduction.

high fidelity 1) A kind of sound-reproducing system whose realism of reproduction is judged to be better than average. Stereo reproduction can be high-fidelity or otherwise. 2) The pursuit of perfection in sound reproduction, as a hobby or a religion.

high-frequency range 1) The audio range above 1300Hz. 2) The usable upper limit of that range. See "extension."

hole-in-the-middle In stereo reproduction, weak or vague representation of center images. Can result from out-of-phase loudspeakers or excessively widely spaced stereo microphones. See "out-of-phase."

Holt's Laws 1) "The better the recording, the worse the performance, and vice versa." 2) "The shriller the advertisement, the worse the product." 3) "Every component is imperfect, and every imperfection is audible."

honky Pertaining to a severe "aw" coloration.

hooty 1) Pertaining to a severe "ooo" coloration. 2) Resonant colorations may cause some lower-midrange notes to jump forward or "hoot" at the listener.

horn sound An "aw" coloration characteristic of many loudspeakers that have a horn-loaded midrange.

hot Very tipped-up high frequencies.

hum A continuous 60Hz or 120Hz noise, caused by leakage of the household AC supply or its second harmonic into the signal path.

hump A broad frequency-response peak.

humped Sound that is forward, soft, and lean. The apparent listening distance is up-front and immediate, yet the overall sound is dull and thin. Caused by a broad midrange rise with rolled-off lower and upper ranges. Compare "dished."