Welcome to our regulary updated glossary library. Our glossary features technical terms from the fields of music technology, audio, recording, computing and more. If you cannot find a particular term below or you have an explanation of a term, please email us at Info@soundgearlab.com or comment below and we will make sure to include it in our next update.
2.4 GHz – A typical radio frequency range on which wireless devices operate, including Bluetooth® devices like wireless headphones.
3-blob soundstage – Lack of an overall soundscape that pans from left to right.
Accurate – This is the reproduction of sound identical or close to the original recorded. When a playback or recording equipment reproduces what is on the recording, it is said to be an accurate device.
Acuity – 1) This is the acquired ability of an audiophile to hear and access the excellent attributes of a reproduced sound. 2) This is the sensitivity of the ears to very soft sounds.
Aggressive – This is reproduced sound that has a forward and bright sonic character
Airline adapter – An adapter that connects the mini plug or full-sized jack of most headphones to the two 1/8″ mini plugs that most airplanes use for audio
Airy – Spacious and open. This term generally associated with a treble which sounds light, open, delicate and seemingly unrestricted in upper extension. 2) Musical instruments sound like they are surrounded by large reflective space full of air.
Ambiance – Impression of acoustic space. Usually, a feeling evoked by an environment.
Analog – Representation of data using a continuously changing variable.
Analytical – This is a reproduction which is very detailed.
Armature – This is a type of headphone driver that consists of a moving magnet connected to a diaphragm that produces sound when an electrical current is supplied.
Articulate – Reproduction of many instruments and voices with clarity and intelligibility.
Attack – 1) The buildup of sound when an instrument is blown, bowed, plucked or struck. 2) This is the ability of a system to reproduce the attack transients in musical sound.
Attack transient – The initial energy pulse of sound when a percussive instrument is struck, such as from a drum head or piano string.
Audibility – The measure of severity of a sound wave imperfection.
Auronihilist – (pronounced “auro-nigh-illist”) A person who believes that all components that measure the same, sound the same.
Autohype – Hearing something that is not there, because you expect it to be.
Balanced (equipment) – 1) Reducing interference especially with long cables using a pair of balanced impedance lines. 2) Equality or the relative level between the left and right signal channels. 3) The degree to which one aspect of the sonic spectrum is emphasized above the rest. 2) The relative loudness of instruments in a performing group.
Balanced armature –
Bass – Lower frequencies usually below 250Hz characterized by low pitch.
Bass Bleed –
Bass Extension – How deep the bass goes
Bass Quality – How well detailed the bass is.
Bass Quantity – How much bass
Bassy – Emphasized bass.
Behind-the-neck – This is a design in which the headband rests against or hovers slightly above the back of the neck.
Billowing – Excessively reverberant.
Binaural recording – This is a method of recording audio that produces a 360-degree listening experience when reproduced by headphones.
Bit depth –
Blanketed – Weak highs
Bloated – 1) Overly rich, reverberant and warm, usually when describing a sound. 2) Excessive bass at around 250Hz.
Blurred – Poor transient response.
Boom Microphone – This is a type of microphone that is held in a fixed position from your mouth by the arm (boom).
Boomy – a Noticeable exaggeration of the midbass.
Boxy – 1) Upper or lower midrange sound of a loudspeaker with excessive cabinet-wall sounds being deep, full, and reverberating. 2) The sound feels as if it is trapped in a box.
Breathy – 1) Audible breath sounds that come out when playing wind instruments. 2) Good response in the mids and treble.
Bright – Sound that has an emphasis on the upper midrange or lower treble.
Burn in –
Buzz – Low-frequency sound having a fuzzy or spiky character.
Center stage – The section of the soundstage that is located midway between the loudspeakers.
Characteristic – One of the many essential constituents of reproduced sound, which contributes to its overall quality.
Chesty – This usually is excessive energy in the upper bass or lower midrange caused due to thickness or heaviness from a reproduced male voice.
Circumaural (Headphones) – Meaning around the ear.
Clamping Force – The measure of how strongly a headphone clamps to the sides of your head.
Clean – Free from audible distortion.
Closed – Sound that lacks openness.
Closed-back (Headphones) – The back of the headphone is closed. This improves the bass response and isolation.
Coaxial – The word “coaxial” referred to 75 Ohm cables which use a coaxial construction. A coaxial construction is a center conductor and an outside conductor which surrounds completely the center conductor. The two drivers share the same center axis and therefore the name “co-axial.”
Coherent – This is when all components of the audio are passing through the system at precisely the same time. With coherent audio. You get precise and stable imaging with instruments defined clearly and sounding natural.
Colored – Emphasis on certain frequencies or altering the sound.
Congested – Lacking transparency.
Crisp – Sound reproduced with extended high-frequency response.
Crossfeed – An electronic circuit that is used to make the audio image on headphones more like that heard on speakers
DAC (Digital to Analog Converter) – A device that converts a digital signal into an analog signal that can drive a headphone.
Damping – The amount of control an amplifier seems to impose on a woofer.
Damping Factor – This is usually the input impedance of the speaker or the output impedance of the amplifier.
Dark – This is sound reproduced with excessively rich quality but lacks emphasis in the highs and upper mids.
DC Adapter – An optional amplifier adapter that provides power for your amplifier and eliminates the need for batteries.
Decay – The fade out of a note usually after an attack.
Decibel (dB) – This is the unit of measure for expressing the relative power of amplitude differences.
Deep bass – These are frequencies that range below 40Hz
Definition (or resolution) – The sense of a component to expose subtitle details in the sound.
Depth (Soundstage) – The sense of how far away or near instruments are
Detail – The subtlest or Delicate elements of sound which are the first to disappear with lesser equipment.
Detailed – Easy to hear small details in the music.
Digital – Usually a system using binary data (ones and zeros) to represent information.
Digital Inputs – Inputs to a digital to analog converter (DAC). e.g., USB
Digital signal – A series of binary numbers that represent the SPL (sound pressure level) sampled in a series over time.
Dip – A narrow area of depression within an otherwise flat frequency-response curve or at certain frequencies
Dirty – The reproduction of sound which is fuzzy, cruddy or spiky
Driver – The element inside headphones that converts an electrical signal into the sound pressure that can be heard by the ear.
Dry – 1) Lack of delay or reverberation as produced by a damped environment. 2) Used to describe the texture of a reproduced sound, e.g. chalky, very fine-grained.
Dull – Lack of reverb
Ear hangers (Ear loops) – These are usually open loops that rest or hand around the ear to hold the earbuds in place.
Earbud (Headphones)- These are a type of in-ear-headphones but tend to sit on the cup of the ear, unlike IEMs that go into the ear canal.
Earbud gels (Earbud sleeves) – Used at the tips of most earbuds and Usually made of rubber, foam, or silicone material.
Earcup – This is the enclosure of the headphone that rests against the ear and houses the driver.
Echo – This is the repetition of sound due to the reflection of the original sound as it bounces over surfaces.
Edgy – Having too much high-frequency response.
Efficiency (Headphone) – The measure of the relationship between input signal level and how loud the headphones play.
Electrostatic/Electrostats (Headphones) – Headphones that use electrostatic drivers.
Element – One of the parts in a sonic characteristic. E.g., Treble, Midrange, and bass are elements of frequency response while Depth and breadth are elements of sound staging.
Euphonic – Attractive coloration and distortion pleasing to the ear.
Extension – The ability of a headphone to acceptably reproduce high or low sound.
Extreme Bottom – Sound Having a frequency response below 32Hz
Extreme highs – These are the ranges of audible frequencies above 10kHz.
Fast – An increase in realism and “snap” due to excellent reproduction of rapid transients.
Fat – Small exaggerations of the mid-bass and upper-bass ranges.
Fidelity – The ability of a component to accurately reproduce sound
Filter Switch – This switch engages a filter that makes the sound slightly brighter (more treble).
Focus – the enhanced ability to hear the brief moments of silence between the musical impulses in reproduced sound.
Folding headband – this is a headband that usually folds itself so that it can be easily stored for transport.
Forward (ness) – Makes listener feel closer to the instruments.
Frequency – The number of sound frequencies per second.
Frequency range – This is stating the range of frequencies without level limits. EG the lower treble covers the frequency response range of ________
Frequency Response – A sense of image being projected in front of the speakers or the music being forced upon the listener.
Full – Good low-frequency response, not necessarily extended, but with adequate level around 100 to 300 Hz.
Full size –
Fuzz, Fuzziness – The reproduction of sound with a coarse but soft-edged texturing.
Gain Switch – A coarse volume control for headphones of differing impedance.
Gentle – The harmonics usually weak.
Grainy – Noticeable noise or rough texture in the reproduction of sound.
Grungy – Too much harmonic or I.M. (Intermodulation) distortion
Hard – Too much upper midrange, usually around 3kHz
Harmonic Distortion – These are distortion artifacts that are higher in the frequency than the original tone.
Harsh – Uncomfortable, forward or aggressive sound with a metallic tinge.
Head stage – This is the perception of the soundstage while using headphones.
Headphone Amplifier –
Headset – A headphone that has an inbuilt microphone.
Height (Soundstage) –
High Midrange (High Mids, Upper Mids) – These are audio frequencies between 2kHz and 6kHz.
Highs – These are the higher frequency notes usually above 6kHz
Hi-Res (High Resolution) –
Hollow – Recessed mid-range causing the bass and high-end to re-sound out over the mids.
Honky – A bump in the response around 500 to 700 Hz.
Hot – A little too high volume in an analog system.
Hotspot – Usually with comfort, describes a place of discomfort or pain that forms over time.
I.E.M (In-ear-monitor) – This is a type of headphone inserted into the ear canal.
Image Depth – The ability of an audio system to portray sounds in front of, and behind each other.
Image Width – The left to right width of the audio image.
Imaging – This is the sense of direction of sound or an instrument.
Impedance – This is the measure of the resistance of speakers or driver to the current supplied.
In-Ear Monitor – see I.E.M
Infrared (IR) transmission – This is the use of IR transmission to send signals of infrared light from the transmitter to the headphone.
Inline Volume Control(s) – This is a type of controls, e.g. volume control that is built into the headphones cord
Input Impedance – The effective resistance of the input to a device.
Intraaural – A type of speaker that sits gently in the ear canal. Also in-ear.
Juicy – Sound that has energy and life.
Laid Back – Sound having a distant-sounding, recessed or exaggerated depth.
Linear Amplifier –
Liquid – Textureless sound.
Listening Fatigue – The result of your brain having to struggle to accurately place (localize) sounds in an artificial listening environment like speakers and headphones.
Low bass (Bottom octave) – Sound having a frequency response of between 20Hz and 40Hz.
Low Level Detail –
Low Midrange (Low Mids) – Sound having frequencies around 250Hz to 500Hz.
Lush – Full or Very Rich
MAP (Minimum Advertised Price) – Enforced by headphone manufacturers.
Mellow – Sound having reduced high frequencies.
Midrange – These are audio frequencies between 250Hz and 6kHz.
Monaural – A headphone or headset with a single speaker.
Musical (or musicality) –
Nasal – A bump in the response at around
Naturalness – Realism
Neodymium magnet – A type of magnet used to move a headphone driver. This types of magnets tend to be strong and more expensive.
Neutral/Neutrality – This is a frequency response that tends to have no exaggerations in any section.
Noise attenuation – This describes the reduction of unwanted sound.
Noise Cancelling – Usually associated with headphones
Noise Isolating – This is the use of dense materials usually around-the-ear or on-ear headphones to passively block out noise.
Ohms – The unit of measurement for impedance.
Omni-Directional – Usually applied to a microphone, when it is capable of receiving sounds equally from any direction.
On-ear (Headphones) – The headphones ear cups sit directly on your ears. They are bulkier but comfier.
Op-Amp – This is an electronic amplification circuitry with an inverting and non-inverting input and an output, set to be configured to act in a number of different ways using various ways.
Open – 1) Usually relating to upper midrange and treble, it is sound which has height and “air.” 2) Usually used to describe the sound in the highs and upper midrange that sounds airy and with lots of space.
Open-back (Headphones) – The back of the headphone is open to the air, causing a greater sense of soundstage and detail but a reduction of the bass impact.
Optical – a digital audio connection which uses light instead of electricity to pass a signal.
OTL Tube Amps (Output Transformer-less) – This is the use of capacitive coupling or D.C. coupling instead of using transformers.
Output Impedance – The effective resistance seen by a load as it “looks back into” the output of an amplifier.
Pace – A strong sense of timing and beat often associated with rhythm.
Piercing – Sharp peaks usually in the upper midrange and highs that make it difficult to listen.
Pink noise – 1) This is a mixture of all frequencies used mostly for “burn in.” 2) Equal power across the musical octave spectrum.
Planar Magnetic –
Portable headphones – These are headphones that are lightweight or small to allow for easy mobility.
Power Amplifier – A device that boosts the amount of energy in an audio signal from a low level to a power level high enough to drive a pair of speakers.
PRaT – Pace, Rhythm, and Timing. Which is a remarkable blending of several terms in HiFi that can be commonly associated too with psycho-acoustics and headphone listening?
Presence – 1) A sense created in that an instrument is present in the listening room. 2) An emphasized or adequate response around 5kHz for most instruments.
Presence Range – A range between 4kHz to 6kHz that is a response for the clarity and definition of instruments and voices.
Puffy – A bump in the response usually around 500Hz.
Punch – an audio system’s ability to deliver significant pressure changes while remaining musically coherent.
Punchy – Good reproduction of dynamics or sometimes used to describe a bump sound 200Hz or 5kHz.
Radio frequency (RF) transmission – This is the use of radio frequency transmission to send audio signals from the transmitter to the headphone.
Range – The distance between the highest and lowest tones.
Relaxed – Usually associated with the treble, these are sounds that are gently reduced in the high ranges compared to the mids.
Resolution (or Resolving) –
Resolving – Separation of instruments and expression of clear notes.
Resonance – The characteristic of a physical systems ability to “ring.”
Rhythm – The controlled movement of sound with time.
Roll-Off – The gradual attenuation that occurs at the upper or lower frequency range of a driver, system or network usually defined as the frequency where the response is reduced by 3dB.
Round – High-frequency roll-off or dip.
S/PDIF (Sony/Philips Digital Interconnect Format) – an industry standard specifying the hardware connections (Toslink, BNC, or RCA) and “data link layer” protocols for digital audio transfer in consumer electronics.
Sampling Rate –
Saturation – The limit at which a magnetic tape is fully magnetized and cannot accept more magnetization.
Sealed – Sealed headphones are also called ‘closed-back’ headphones and are designed to block out environmental noise using a passive acoustic seal
Seismic – Shallow bass which cannot be heard but can be felt.
Self-powered (speakers) – Usually, computer speakers which contain their power amplifier, take a line input, and have their volume control.
Semi-Open (Headphones)- Instead of being fully closed or open, the headphone’s back has some openings.
Shrill – Strident, Steely.
Sibilance – Excess Treble; harsh to ears.
Sibilant (or Sibilance) – The exaggeration of “s” or “sh” sounds in vocals.
Smooth – Usually a flat response especially in the midrange that lacks peaks and dips and is easy on the ears.
Solid State – A broad categorization of active electronic circuitry that use transistors of various types (NPN, PNP, FETs, J-FETs, and analog integrated circuits) to provide gain.
Sound Card – A device used in a computer that converts a digital signal from your computer into a signal that can be played through headphones or speakers.
Soundstage – The area between two speakers that appears to the listener to be occupied by sonic images.
Spacious – Ambient, or conveying a sense of space or room around the instruments.
Sparkle – Usually associated with the treble, a sparky treble has a sharp and prominent zing to it.
Spatially diffuse –
Speaker – A device that converts electrical current into sound.
Speed – A fast system with good pace.
Square Wave Response – An audio test signal which alternates between two D.C. levels.
Steely – These are emphasized upper mids usually around 3kHz to 6kHz.
Sterile – Neutral sounding, usually used with a negative connotation.
Sub-Bass – These are usually the audio differences between 20Hz and 80Hz.
Supra-aural (Headphones) – A type of headphone that rests on the outside of the ear.
Sweet – Flat high-frequency response extended to 15kHz or 20kHz.
Swivel earcups – This is a type of earcups that provide a comfortable fit by conforming to the shape of an individual’s head.
Talkthrough button – A button commonly found on noise-canceling headphones that turns off the noise-canceling mechanism to let you hear outside noise without getting the headphones off your head.
Talk-time – The maximum number of hours you can talk on your headset before it is reached.
Telephone Like – The music sounds like it is coming through a telephone or tin can
Thin – Fundamentals are weak comparable to harmonics.
Tight – Detailed, good and well low-frequency transient response.
Timbre – The tonal character of a device/instrument.
Timing – A sense of accuracy in the tempo.accuracy
Tinny – Peak mids or weak lows
Tone – The sound of definite pitch
Training Adapter – This is an adapter that allows the connection of two headsets to a single phone so supervisors can listen in with trainees.
Transient – The leading point of a percussive tone. A transient response makes the music sound more lively and realistic.
Transient Response – the ability of the system to pass all frequencies at the same rate.
Transistor– A small electronic device which can provide an electrical signal gain in circuit construction.
Transparent – Easy to hear into the music, detailed or clear, not muddy
Treble (Highs) – The highest part of music and voice.
Tru-Comfort™ – This is a combination of design and materials developed to allow the ear to breather during long sessions.
Tubby – Sound having low low-frequency resonances.
Tube Amplifier – An audio amplifier using vacuum tubes in its gain stages.
Upper Midrange (Upper Mids, High Mids) – Having audio frequencies between 2 kHz and 6 kHz.
USB (Universal Serial Bus) – a standardized interface designed primarily for personal computers as a peripheral control interface
USB C –
Veiled – Slight noise, distortion or slightly weak high frequencies or the Loss of detail due to limited transparency.
Virtual surround sound – Usually associated with headphones, this is a feature that creates the feeling that sound is coming from different locations around you instead of just two.
VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) – a technology that allows you to talk to others over the internet, rather than over phone lines.
Warm – Not thin. Good bass, adequate low frequencies, adequate fundamentals relative to harmonics.
Weighty – Having good low frequencies below 50Hz,
Wet – A reverberant sound.
White noise – Equal power for every hertz that results in the white noise sounding heavy compared to pink noise.
Wireless – Wireless headphones replace the wire with an alternative method for getting the audio signal to the headphones. mostly through analog modulation of frequencies
Woolly – Loose or ill-defined bass