Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Glossary: I-M


"ih" (as in "bit") A vowel coloration caused by a frequency-response peak centered around 3.5kHz.

image See "phantom image."

imagery Descriptive terminology intended to convey an impression or mental image of a subjective observation. Imagery is usually employed to describe qualities in reproduced sound in terms of more familiar sensory responses like vision, taste, and touch.

imaging The measure of a system's ability to float stable and specific phantom images, reproducing the original sizes and locations of the instruments across the soundstage. See "stereo imaging."

impact A quality of concussive force, as from a deep, strong bass attack, which produces a brief sensation of visceral pressure.

impulse An abrupt, extremely brief burst of signal energy; a transient.

impulse noise Transient noise, such as surface-noise ticks and pops.

inaudible A sonic imperfection which is either too subtle to be consciously perceived or is actually nonexistent. Compare "subliminal."

infrasonic Below the range of audible frequencies. Although inaudible, the infrasonic range from 15-20Hz can be felt if strongly reproduced. Compare "subsonic."

inner detail The sonic subtleties within a complex program signal, reproducible only by a system having high resolution. See "focus."

intolerable Unarguably and unforgivably unlistenable. See "audibility."

involvement The degree to which a reproduction draws the listener in to the musical performance and evokes an emotional response to it.


judgment A listener's assessment of how well his perception of a sonic element measures up to his concept of perfection. The basic choices are "good," "not good," or "undecided."


laid-back Recessed, distant-sounding, having exaggerated depth, usually because of a dished midrange. See "Row-M sound." Compare "forward."

layering The reproduction of depth and receding distance, which audibly places the rows of performers one behind the other.

lean Very slightly bass-shy. The effect of a very slight bass rolloff below around 500Hz. Not quite "cool."

LF Low frequency(ies).

lifeless Sound that is dull, unfocused, unconvincing, and uninvolving.

light Lean and tipped-up. The audible effect of a frequency response which is tilted counterclockwise. Compare "dark."

liquid Textureless sound.

listening distance The distance from the listener to the loudspeakers. See "critical distance," "far field," "near field."

listening fatigue A psychoacoustic phenomenon from prolonged listening to sound whose distortion content is too low to be audible as such but is high enough to be perceived subliminally. The physical and psychological discomfort can induce headaches and nervous tension.

live 1) Describes an acoustical space having a great deal of reverberation. 2) Pertains to the sound of actual instruments or voices in performance, as opposed to the sound of their reproduction.

localization In stereo reproduction, the placement of phantom images in specific lateral positions across the soundstage. Also, the specificity of those images.

loose Pertains to bass which is ill-defined and poorly controlled. Woolly.

low bass The range from 20-40Hz.

lower highs The range of frequencies from 1.3-2.6kHz.

lower middles, lower midrange The range of frequencies from 160-320Hz.

low frequency Any frequency lower than 160Hz.

low-level detail The subtlest elements of musical sound, which include the delicate details of instrumental sounds and the final tail of reverberation decay. See "delicacy."

lumpy Reproduced sound characterized by a number of audible response discontinuities through the range below about 1kHz. Certain frequency bands seem to predominate, while others sound weak.

lush Rich-sounding and sumptuous to the point of wretched excess.


meter man A person who believes that measurements tell all you need to know about a component's performance. An auronihilist. Compare "mystic," "subjectivist."

MF Middle frequency(ies), the all-important midrange.

midbass The range of frequencies from 40-80Hz.

middle highs The range of frequencies from 2.6-5kHz.

middles, midrange The range of frequencies from 160-1300Hz.

moderate A qualifier which describes a sonic imperfection which is clearly audible through any decent system, but not annoyingly so. See "audibility."

modulation noise A hiss or other extraneous noise which "rides on" the main signal, varying in loudness according to the strength of that signal.

monaural Literally "hearing with one ear." Often used incorrectly in place of monophonic (as in Glenn D. White's otherwise excellent Audio Dictionary, 1991, second edition, University of Washington Press.---JA). Compare "binaural."

monophonic, mono A system or recording with one channel or speaker. See "monaural," "single mono," "dual mono."

motorboating Low-frequency oscillation of an active device, producing a continuous, rapid "bupupup" sound, like a one-cylinder engine.

muddy Ill-defined, congested.

muffled Very dull-sounding; having no apparent high frequencies at all. The result of HF rolloff above about 2kHz.

musical, musicality A personal judgment as to the degree to which reproduced sound resembles live music. Real musical sound is both accurate and euphonic, consonant and dissonant.

muted Dark, lifeless, closed-in.

mystic An audiophile who attributes all currently unmeasurable sonic differences to forces beyond human understanding.