Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Glossary: N-Q


nasal Reproduced sound having the quality of a person speaking with his/her nose blocked. Like the vowel "eh" coloration. In a loudspeaker, often due to a measured peak in the upper midrange followed by a complementary dip.

naturalness Realism.

near field Pertains to that range of listening distances in which the sounds reaching the ears are predominantly direct. See "far field," "critical distance."

neutral Free from coloration.

noise Any spurious background sounds, usually of a random or indeterminate pitch: hiss, crackles, ticks, pops, whooshes.

Noticeable In aural perception, any sonic quality which is clearly audible to most people.


objectivist A meter man. Compare "subjectivist."

observation The perceived attribute of a sonic element, on which a personal judgment about its quality is based. Observations are described by subjective terms such as "smooth," "woolly," or "spacious."

obvious You'd have to be deaf not to hear it. See "audibility."

"oh" (as in "toe") A vowel coloration caused by a broad frequency-response peak centered around 250Hz.

one-note bass The exaggeration of a single bass note, due to a sharp LF peak, normally due to an underdamped woofer but also caused by room resonances.

"oo" (as in "gloom") A vowel coloration caused by a broad frequency-response peak centered around 120Hz.

opaque Lacking detail and transparency.

open Exhibiting qualities of delicacy, air, and fine detail. Giving an impression of having no upper-frequency limit.

out-of-phase In a two-channel system, one channel being in opposite polarity to the second, most commonly due to having one speaker hooked up with the red (positive) lead to the red (positive) terminal, the other with the red lead to the black (negative terminal). As well as a "phasey" sound, the result will be a reduction in low frequencies. See "phasey." Not to be confused with an inversion of Absolute Phase or Polarity.

overblown Bloated. Excessively fat and rich.

overdamped Pertaining to the audible effects of excessive woofer damping.


pace The apparent tempo of a musical performance, which can be different from its actual beats-per-minute tempo. Pace is affected by phrasing in performance and speed in reproduction.

palpable Describes reproduction that is so realistic you feel you could reach out and touch the instruments or singers.

perceptible At or above the threshold of audibility of a trained listener.

perspective The soundstage depth information that is conveyed by layering.

phantom image The re-creation by a stereo system of an apparent sound source at a location other than that of either loudspeaker.

phasey A quality of reproduced sound which creates a sensation of pressure in the ears, unrelated to the intensity of the sound. Phasiness is experienced by many people when listening to two loudspeakers which are connected out of phase with each other.

phasing See "comb filtering."

picket-fencing (Also called vertical-venetian-blind effect.) A tendency for stereo channel balance to vacillate from left to right as the listener moves laterally with respect to the loudspeakers.

pinched 1) Very cold, with a "nyeah" coloration. 2) Pertaining to soundstaging: Laterally compressed and lacking in spaciousness.

pinpoint imaging Stereo imaging that is precise, stable, and focused.

pitch resolution The clarity with which the pitch of (generally) bass notes is perceived. Poor pitch resolution makes all notes sound similar; good pitch resolution gives an impression that you "can almost count the cycles."

plastery A hard-sounding reverberation having an "a" (as in "cat") coloration, characteristic of bare, plaster-walled rooms. Compare "fluttery," "slap."

plummy (British) Fat, rich, lush-sounding.

polite Laid-back.

pop A midrange pulse characterized by a very sharp attack followed by a short "o" or "aw" vowel sound. Usually the result of a severe LP blemish.

power range The frequency range about 200-500Hz that affects the reproduction of the power instruments of an orchestra---the brass instruments.

precedence effect The tendency for the ears to identify the source of a sound as being in the direction from which it is first heard. See "direct sound."

presence A quality of realism and aliveness.

presence range The lower-treble part of the audio spectrum, approximately 1-3kHz, which contributes to presence in reproduced sound.

pristine Very clean-sounding, very transparent.

pumping 1) The exaggeration of abrupt signal-amplitude changes, often due to the malfunctioning of a companding (compressing/expanding) noise-reduction system. 2) Audible fluctuations of background noise in the playback phase of compansion. 3) Large, spurious subsonic motions of a woofer cone, usually due to analog-disc warps or marginal LF stability in the power amplifier.


qualifier An adjective which the listener attaches to an observed sonic imperfection (such as "peaky" or "muddy") in order to convey a sense of its magnitude. "Subtle" and "conspicuous" are qualifying adjectives. See "audibility."

quality The degree to which the reproduction of sound is judged to approach the goal of perfection.

quick See "fast."