Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Reverse Glossary, part 1

The Reverse Glossary
The discussion which follows assumes that the listener is familiar with the sound of live music as performed in a real acoustical space. Without that familiarity, there can be no basis for judging the quality of the reproduction of that sound.

In order to describe reproduced sound informatively, it is necessary to listen individually to the sonic bits and pieces that comprise the entire fabric of the sound, and to make qualitative judgments about them. That fabric is made up of a number of sonic characteristics, each of which is judged according to its elements and assigned a qualifier.

Characteristics are the basic constituents of reproduced sound, which contribute to its perceived quality. Frequency response, loudness, extension, soundstaging, and resolution are sonic characteristics.

Elements are the constituent parts of a sonic characteristic, to which you must pay individual attention when listening analytically. Bass, midrange, and treble are elements of frequency response. Depth and breadth are elements of soundstaging.

Judgments are subjective assessments of how well the perceptions of various sonic elements measure up to the listener's concept of perfection. The basic choices are "good," "not good," or "undecided."

Observations are the perceived attributes of sonic elements, on which a listener bases his judgments about their quality. Observations are described by subjective terms such as "smooth," "woolly," or "spacious."

Qualifiers are adjectives which the listener attaches to observed sonic flaws (such as "peaky" or "muddy"), in order to convey a feeling for their severity. "Subtle" and "conspicuous" are qualifying adjectives.

The Reverse Glossary lists sonic characteristics in alphabetical order, followed by the elements which comprise each characteristic, followed by the value judgments (Good or Not Good) about each element. Not Good is generally expanded into sub-categories such as Excess or Deficiency. Finally, the subjective terms which describe why you arrived at those judgments are listed.

To use the listings, look up the performance characteristic (eg, Frequency Response) and element (eg, Bass), select the appropriate observation (eg, Smoothness), decide whether the smoothness you hear is Good or Not Good, and choose a term that seems to describe what you are basing that decision on.

Check it in the Glossary to see if, in fact, that's the term you have in mind, then check the Audibility listings in the Glossary or the Reverse Glossary for the modifying adjective that gives appropriate "weight" to the term. ("Slightly muddy" is more informative than just "muddy.")

Some terms, drawn from common usage, are not defined in the Glossary, because their meaning is clear to any English-speaking person. They are listed in the Reverse Glossary merely to show that they are also accepted subjective-audio parlance.