• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

How to evaluate a ELAC Navis bookshelf (powered speaker) versus the KEF LS-50 Wireless 2 (active speaker)?

q3cpma

Major Contributor
Joined
May 22, 2019
Messages
3,063
Likes
4,256
Location
France
My take (sorry if I repeat something already said, didn't read the whole thread):
* The ARB-51 is likely to have a lot more headroom than the KEF, important if you don't listen in nearfield without a subwoofer.
* I've seen a lot of reports about connection issues and bad application concerning KEF's firmware, I wouldn't choose a "lifestyle streamer + speaker solution", personally.
* KEF has a (very good) quasi-spin in its white paper while Elac has nothing, and most of the models tested here (AS-61, Uni-Fi 2.0 and BS U5 Slim) had at least one major problem.
* Why are you focused only on these models? KEF's R3 or other active designs like Neumann, Genelec, Kali are way safer choices, as far as measured performance goes.
 
OP
M

mel

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
411
Likes
23
My take (sorry if I repeat something already said, didn't read the whole thread):
* The ARB-51 is likely to have a lot more headroom than the KEF, important if you don't listen in nearfield without a subwoofer.
* I've seen a lot of reports about connection issues and bad application concerning KEF's firmware, I wouldn't choose a "lifestyle streamer + speaker solution", personally.
* KEF has a (very good) quasi-spin in its white paper while Elac has nothing, and most of the models tested here (AS-61, Uni-Fi 2.0 and BS U5 Slim) had at least one major problem.
* Why are you focused only on these models? KEF's R3 or other active designs like Neumann, Genelec, Kali are way safer choices, as far as measured performance goes.

Great points!

Thanks. "Lifestyle" is the word I was looking for, rather than soundbar.

I have an AudioEngine A3, which is a powered (analog) speaker. I love it! Passive speakers are not an option, because the A3s work so well for me.

I just want to add a pair of speakers in my bedroom. Currently, the A3s fill my entire place with good ambient sound.

I just want to be able to hear the sound a little bit better in my 12'x12' bedroom. Only a half of a wall about six feet high encloses the bedroom. I tried my passive bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer. They did not work very well because they overpowered the room. The bedroom has two doors, at right angles, that open to larger spaces. The room acoustics is very temperamental.

I placed the A3s at the end of my bed. They sound much better at arm's length. Three feet makes a big difference, because the speakers are so small.

KEF R3 is passive.

I actually went through all the speakers listed in a couple of reviews about "powered" speakers. Few are "active" (digital crossover and amplifiers) as opposed to "powered" (analog crossover and amplifiers). I probably evaluated one to two dozen choices. The KEF and ELAC were the last two remaining alternatives.

I favored a purely digital (e.g., KEF) implementation. I feel analog crossovers are at a significant disadvantage. When I read this review, I realized how the active DSP architecture could become a hinderance due to constraints, which are primarily due to the DAC constraints. Other hardware design factors play a role, too. So, I backed off the active speaker priority.

I did look at Neumann, Genelec, Kali and many others.

I am skeptical that studio monitors are for me, despite their higher performance and lower cost. I cannot remember specific reasons about individual speakers, right now.

At the end of this process, the basic difference boils down to active versus analog crossovers. My AudioEngine A3s have analog crossovers and class AB amplifiers. The A3s work great at arm's length distance. The A3s are much less impressive at twice the distance. For this reason, I have no reluctance about the ELAC Navis speakers.

What is a meaningful way to compare digital and analog crossovers, unless the comparison is inconsequential?

For completeness, I also set up the T1Es on my desktop, fed by my lab computer. The EQ was reset to “Shelved,” and the resulting sound was full-bodied and well-integrated. One concern for nearfield listening like this is the noise from the power amplifiers; in the case of the T1Es, it was audible as a slight hiss, but it was significantly lower in volume than the hiss from the Kali LP-6s. And the Vanatoos took up significantly less desk space. I’d still prefer the Kalis for mixing and mastering, but for just plain music listening, I preferred using the T1Es.

https://audioxpress.com/files/attachment/2689

You’re probably sick of me saying “I can’t believe what you get for $300 per pair!” so I won’t say it again. But I’ll sure think it. The sound is clean, dynamic, and uncolored, and from 40 Hz up, makes one reconsider whether spending more will get real improvement.
There are a few downsides: the slight hiss at close range, the lack of true deep bass and wall-shaking SPLs in larger rooms, and a lack of digital inputs. The last is supposed to be addressed with a Bluetooth adapter bridge scheduled for release sometime during mid-2019, but I would like it more if there were a
Figure 6: Comparing total distortion to distortion by individual harmonics, the third-order products are seen to be dominant.
Photo 5: Near-field measurement of the Kali Audio LP-6 Studio Monitor shows excellent bass extension and quality.
TOSLINK optical or coaxial digital input. For home music use, I miss having a remote control like the one supplied with the Vanatoo speakers.
But home use is a bonus. For studio mixing, mastering, and monitoring, the Kali LP-6 more than delivers the goods, with clean, dynamic sound, superb dispersion, and a very clever and well-thought-out boundary correction system. All of that for $300 including amplification (see Photo 5). Highly, highly recommended.ax
 
Last edited:
OP
M

mel

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
411
Likes
23
Is "acausal ringing of the A/D converter's anti-aliasing filter" of any audible consequence?

In the time domain, the Vanatoo's step response (fig.5) reveals that the tweeter is connected in inverted acoustic polarity, the woofer in positive polarity. The decay of the tweeter's step smoothly blends into the start of the woofer's step,
  • implying optimal crossover design,
  • but the speaker's DSP is not used to render their outputs time-coincident.
  • You can just see in this graph the acausal ringing of the A/D converter's anti-aliasing filter before the start of the tweeter's negative-going step.
  • The Vanatoo's cumulative spectral-decay plot (fig.6) was superbly clean.

https://www.stereophile.com/content...ncore-powered-loudspeaker-system-measurements
 
OP
M

mel

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
411
Likes
23
More evidence that tilts towards analog, rather than DSP. Filters seem to be the issue.

I am all for active, but the filters (bass coupler-mid-high) should always remain analog, DSP’s mean additional A-D and D-A PCM conversion and as such make the DSD source issue redundant. It is impossible to perform DSP in DSD signals. This is why I would not opt wireless DSP speakers

At one point early in the development of the AN3 we were planning on using DSP for both the subwoofer and the midbass coupler. After many hours of listening and fooling around, we chose to remove the DSP path for the midbass coupler and went analog.
So, for the moment, AN3 is DSP only in the subwoofer area. All this subject to change as we work on perfecting this beauty.
 
Last edited:
OP
M

mel

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
411
Likes
23
Great points!

Thanks. "Lifestyle" is the word I was looking for, rather than soundbar.

I have an AudioEngine A3, which is a powered (analog) speaker. I love it! Passive speakers are not an option, because the A3s work so well for me.

I just want to add a pair of speakers in my bedroom. Currently, the A3s fill my entire place with good ambient sound.

I just want to be able to hear the sound a little bit better in my 12'x12' bedroom. Only a half of a wall about six feet high encloses the bedroom. I tried my passive bookshelf speakers with a subwoofer. They did not work very well because they overpowered the room. The bedroom has two doors, at right angles, that open to larger spaces. The room acoustics is very temperamental.

I placed the A3s at the end of my bed. They sound much better at arm's length. Three feet makes a big difference, because the speakers are so small.

KEF R3 is passive.

I actually went through all the speakers listed in a couple of reviews about "powered" speakers. Few are "active" (digital crossover and amplifiers) as opposed to "powered" (analog crossover and amplifiers). I probably evaluated one to two dozen choices. The KEF and ELAC were the last two remaining alternatives.

I favored a purely digital (e.g., KEF) implementation. I feel analog crossovers are at a significant disadvantage. When I read this review, I realized how the active DSP architecture could become a hinderance due to constraints, which are primarily due to the DAC constraints. Other hardware design factors play a role, too. So, I backed off the active speaker priority.

I did look at Neumann, Genelec, Kali and many others.

I am skeptical that studio monitors are for me, despite their higher performance and lower cost. I cannot remember specific reasons about individual speakers, right now.

At the end of this process, the basic difference boils down to active versus analog crossovers. My AudioEngine A3s have analog crossovers and class AB amplifiers. The A3s work great at arm's length distance. The A3s are much less impressive at twice the distance. For this reason, I have no reluctance about the ELAC Navis speakers.

What is a meaningful way to compare digital and analog crossovers, unless the comparison is inconsequential?

I got blocked at this point, so I turned to neurology to fill in the gaps.

Neurology provides insight into sound perception by measuring brain activity and neural representation. Music is processed in working memory as a series-to-parallel transformation. A basic musical “percept” processed by working memory may consist of:
  • Rhythm
  • Melody
  • Harmony
To recognize music over the long-term, a musical percept must be encoded from working memory to long-term memory. Some music characteristics that might be encoded are instrumentation, pitch, tempo, loudness and timbre.

Music is also encoded as semantic memory. The title, lyrics or humming of a tune are examples of semantic information, or meaning.

The classic example is dramatized in the movie Casablanca by the classic line “Play it Sam”. Sam, the piano player, claims he forgot how to play a forbidden song. Ilsa reminds him my humming the tune.

Music memory is both implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious). Music also engages other psychological functions that are networked together in the brain, such as:
  • Imagery
  • Emotion
  • Attention
Neurology can sometimes provide insight that traditional science cannot answer. If you read audio reviews by well respected magazines, they almost always include both viewpoints. The neurology viewpoint often receives greater emphasis, we just don't realize the evaluation is indirectly and distantly based on neurological measurements of brain activity.

I created a Tidal playlist of a dozen renditions of Duke Ellington's jazz standard, Caravan. All of the renditions, except one are Tidal "HiFi". I kept noticing subtle distortion in the cymbals. I listened to other intense drumming by other artists on Tidal "Master" quality level. The distortion disappeared.

l learned that cymbals are the Achilles heel of the recording industry. Cymbals oscillate towards and angle away from the microphone, which is a form of harmonic distortion. At fast tempos, like Caravan at 136 BPM (allegro), the combination of oscillation and compression results in a type of harmonic distortion that is readily apparent to my ears. The cymbals don't sound natural. The naturalness is lost.

I cannot think of word that sounds out distortion. Cymbals clang "a loud, resonant metallic sound or series of sounds". The loss of naturalness might have something to do with the sound of wind? Instead of a "shhh" sound, it might be more dampened, like wind blowing through hedges? I don't know.

I've spend thousands of hours sailing, windsurfing and kiteboarding. The wind sounds different at different speeds and tacks. If you've ever dropped in a big wave, you would know how the sound of wind changes with acceleration. All of that implicit wind sound is locked up tightly and won't escape to the explicit level.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cymbal

Cymbals are measured by their diameter either in inches or centimeters. The size of the cymbal affects its sound, larger cymbals usually being louder and having longer sustain. The weight describes how thick the cymbal is. Cymbal weights are important to the sound they produce and how they play. Heavier cymbals have a louder volume, more cut, and better stick articulation (when using drum sticks). Thin cymbals have a fuller sound, lower pitch, and faster response.

The profile of the cymbal is the vertical distance of the bow from the bottom of the bell to the cymbal edge (higher profile cymbals are more bowl-shaped). The profile affects the pitch of the cymbal: higher profile cymbals have higher pitch.
Orchestral clash cymbals are traditionally used in pairs, each one having a strap set in the bell of the cymbal by which they are held. Such a pair is known as clash cymbals, crash cymbals, hand cymbals, or plates. Certain sounds can be obtained by rubbing their edges together in a sliding movement for a "sizzle", striking them against each other in what is called a "crash", tapping the edge of one against the body of the other in what is called a "tap-crash", scraping the edge of one from the inside of the bell to the edge for a "scrape" or "zischen", or shutting the cymbals together and choking the sound in what is called a "hi-hat" or "crush". A skilled percussionist can obtain an enormous dynamic range from such cymbals. For example, in Beethoven's Symphony No. 9, the percussionist is employed to first play cymbals pianissimo, adding a touch of colour rather than loud crash.

Crash cymbals are usually damped by pressing them against the percussionist's body. A composer may write laissez vibrer, or, "let vibrate" (usually abbreviated l.v.), secco (dry), or equivalent indications on the score; more usually, the percussionist must judge when to damp based on the written duration of a crash and the context in which it occurs. Crash cymbals have traditionally been accompanied by the bass drum playing an identical part. This combination, played loudly, is an effective way to accentuate a note since it contributes to both very low and very high-frequency ranges and provides a satisfying "crash-bang-wallop".

Suspended cymbals can produce bright and slicing tones when forcefully struck, and give an eerie transparent "windy" sound when played quietly. A tremolo, or roll (played with two mallets alternately striking on opposing sides of the cymbal) can build in volume from almost inaudible to an overwhelming climax in a satisfyingly smooth manner (as in Humperdinck's Mother Goose Suite).[7] The edge of a suspended cymbal may be hit with the shoulder of a drum stick to obtain a sound somewhat akin to that of clash cymbals. Other methods of playing include scraping a coin or triangle beater rapidly across the ridges on the top of the cymbal, giving a "zing" sound (as some percussionists do in the fourth movement of Dvořák's Symphony No. 9). Other effects that can be used include drawing a bass bow across the edge of the cymbal for a sound like squealing car brakes.

The issue primarily one of recording and mastering. It may be obvious to some during playback of different renditions of the same song by a dozen artists.

The psychological aspects of music will become apparent, by going through this exercise. Musical memory and processing is both implicit (unconscious) and explicit (conscious). Some of your unconscious processing might percolate from implicit to explicit awareness.

Hopefully, that knowledge will help me choose between the ELAC Navis and KEF LS50W during auditions.
 
Last edited:
OP
M

mel

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
411
Likes
23
I was actually able to eliminate the ELAC Navis from consideration because the crossover architecture is not what I actually want. The Navis crossover is "passive analog", not "active analog".

https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Active_Crossover.svg
1624462246614.png

1624462291094.png

The Acoustic Energy AE1 is an electronic (powered, or true active) crossover, as opposed to the unpowered (passive) ELAC Navis crossover. The AE1 is a pure analog "active" speaker, as opposed to "digital active" speakers containing a DSP.

A recurring pattern I found among active speaker designers is a rejection of DSP for active speakers. I find double-DACing to be unnecessary, which might interfere with audio quality. DACs introduce their own noise. Pre-ringing is one type of DAC noise. In DSP-based crossover, analogue input must be converted to digital with a DAC. Digital information must be converted back to analogue to move the driver.

I already own an excellent RME DAC with balanced XLR outputs. The Acoustic Energy AE1 has XLR inputs. The ELAC Navis also has XLR inputs. However, electronic crossovers are what distinguish true "active" (AE1) speakers from "powered" (Navis) speakers. I make investments in audio equipment that I hope will last a decade before becoming obsolete. Obsolesce another objection to DSP-based digital, active speakers, like the KEF LS50W.

To be precise the AE1 crossover is: "3.5kHz 4th Order Linkwitz-Riley", which describes filtering technique. Filtering is important to understand because it is the essence of a crossover. How the overlapping frequencies rolls off from one driver to the other.
  • 4th Order
    • [*]Fourth-order filters have an 80 dB/decade (or 24 dB/octave) slope. These filters are relatively complex to design in passive form, because the components interact with each other, but modern computer-aided crossover optimisation design software can produce accurate designs.[11][12] Steep-slope passive networks are less tolerant of parts value deviations or tolerances, and more sensitive to mis-termination with reactive driver loads (although this is also a problem with lower-order crossovers). A 4th-order crossover with −6 dB crossover point and flat summing is also known as a Linkwitz-Riley crossover(named after its inventors[13]),
      [*]
  • Linkwitz-Riley
    • This means that summing the low-pass and high-pass outputs, the gain at the crossover frequency will be 0 dB, so the crossover behaves like an all-passfilter, having a flat amplitude response with a smoothly changing phase response. This is the biggest advantage of L-R crossovers compared to Butterworth crossovers, whose summed output has a +3 dB peak around the crossover frequency. ... However, crossovers of higher order than 4th may have less usability due to their complexity and increasing peak in group delay around crossover frequency.

AE describes their amplification design as:
Electronically, the AE1 Active is proudly an all-analogue design focused on performance without compromise. This includes wired analogue inputs, both balanced XLR and standard RCA, the highest quality linear power supplies and two pair-matched, high-performance 50Watt Class A/B amplifiers per speaker. While the design team experimented with wireless inputs, switch mode power supplies, Class D amplification and DSP, none delivered the audio performance befitting of a loudspeaker wearing the legendary AE1 badge.

Digital[edit]
Active crossovers can be implemented digitally using a digital signal processor or other microprocessor.[6] They either use digital approximations to traditional analog circuits, known as IIR filters (Bessel, Butterworth, Linkwitz-Riley etc.), or they use Finite Impulse Response (FIR) filters.[7][8] IIR filters have many similarities with analog filters and are relatively undemanding of CPU resources; FIR filters on the other hand usually have a higher order and therefore require more resources for similar characteristics. They can be designed and built so that they have a linear phase response, which is thought desirable by many involved in sound reproduction. There are drawbacks though—in order to achieve linear phase response, a longer delay time is incurred than would be necessary with an IIR or minimum phase FIR filters. IIR filters, which are by nature recursive, have the drawback that, if not carefully designed, they may enter limit cycles, resulting in non-linear distortion.

I also learned that the almost cubed shape (10' x 10' x 10') of one corner of my bedroom makes low frequency (50 to 70Hz) sound almost impossible to tone down. My bedroom is irregularly shaped, so it is far from a perfect cube. However, my bed is near the corner of the bedroom that is almost 10' x 10' x 9' (WLH) cubed.

Have you ever wondered why the shape of subwoofers is generally cubed?

I live near a train crossing. The train horn echos in the corner of my bedroom is just as strong as anywhere else. I would expect the sound to be loudest near an open window, but that is not the case.

How many Hertz is a train horn?
330 Hz

The horn, Model 56, manufactured by Federal Signal Corporation, operated at a frequency of 330 Hz and is rated by the manufacturer to have a sound level output of 108 dB at 3.5 m(7). During testing, the system was powered by a standard 12 volt battery and mounted atop a van, 2.1 m above ground level.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Train_horn
 
Last edited:
OP
M

mel

Senior Member
Joined
Jun 13, 2021
Messages
411
Likes
23
Training your ears for distortion
distortion 1) Any unintentional or undesirable change in an audio signal. 2) An overlay of spurious roughness, fuzziness, harshness, or stridency in reproduced sound.

I tried this simple technique on my bike while accelerating. Starting at 12mph, at 3mph increments, listen to the sound of wind. Pronounce each letter of the alphabet outloud. The verbal and music neural networks overlap each other in the brain.
  • Which consonants does the wind sound like while accelerating at different speeds?
  • The letters "s" and "h" or "ssh", "tish"?
  • Like the word "sush" or "hush", meaning to be quiet?
Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary

Traditional measurements of such things as harmonic distortion, frequency response, and power output can reveal many things a product is doing imperfectly, but there have never been any generally accepted guidelines for equating the measurements with the way they affect the reproduced sound. And there was strong evidence that many of the things people were hearing were not being measured at all.
...
But what should it sound like? The pat answer, of course, is that it should sound like "the real thing," but it's a bit more complicated than that. If the system itself is accurate, it will reproduce what is on the recording. And if the recording itself isn't an accurate representation of the original sound, an accurate sound won't sound realistic. But what does the recording sound like? That's hard to tell, because you can't judge the fidelity of a recording without playing it, and you can't judge the fidelity of the reproducing system without listening to it---usually by playing a recording through it. Since each is used to judge the other, it is difficult to tell much about either, except whether their combination sounds "real." But it can be done.

The experienced listener does not just hear the totality of reproduced sound. He hears into it, observing how the component or system handles a variety of sonic attributes which make up the whole. Instead of simply "all the highs and all the lows," he may hear a coloration that his experience has shown to indicate a treble peak. Or he may hear a lengthening of normally brief bass notes which he has learned to equate with a low-frequency resonance or a lack of woofer damping. Of course, both these problems would be revealed by measurements, but equating their measured severity with their adverse effects on the sound is another matter. To do that, we need words to attach to these effects. Those words are what we call subjective terminology.

Most subjective-audio terms that are not drawn from everyday usage (such as "strident") fall into three categories:
1) Onomatopoeia---words that sound like what they describe;
2) Imagery---words that evoke a mental image; and
3) Sensories---words that relate things we hear to more-familiar things we see or touch.

For example, the term "boomy" is onomatopoeic, because a bass peak sounds like the word "boom." The term "airy" elicits an image of expansive openness, like a large, high-ceilinged room with lots of big windows, to describe treble extension that seemingly has no limit. And the sensorial term "gritty" will have immediate meaning to anyone who has ever chewed lettuce with sand in it.

Some terms listed here are not descriptive at all, but designate certain things that are of concern only to audiophiles who listen carefully. Examples are resolution and soundstaging, which are two of the sonic characteristics used for judging system performance. Other terms---descriptive and otherwise---relate exclusively to reproduction from vinyl LPs, which are still favored over Compact Discs by many audio perfectionists.

Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Reverse Glossary, part 1
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.

Sounds Like? An Audio Glossary Reverse Glossary, part 2
MIDRANGE
Good:
alive, jump factor, natural, neutral, realism, uncolored
Not Good:
Excess: aggressive, brassy, close-up, forward, humped, projected, row-A
Deficiency: dished, distant, laid-back, polite, recessed, reticent, withdrawn
Colorations: boxy, chesty, honky, hooty, horn sound, nasal, raucous, vowel ("a," "ah," "aw," "ee," "eh," "ih," "oh," "oo," "unh")

LOW & MID TREBLE
Good:
natural, neutral, smooth
Not Good:
Excess: bright, brittle, etched, glare, glassy, hard, metallic, screechy, shrill, steely, strident
Deficiency: dead, dull, muffled, muted
EXTREME TREBLE
Good:
airy, extended, delicate, open
Not Good:
Excess: hot, sizzly, spitty, tipped-up, tizzy, toppish, wiry, zippy
Deficiency: closed-in, soft, sweet
Imaging
Good: bunching, correct width, phantom image, specificity, stability, tight
Not Good: bunching, hole-in-the-middle, phasey, vagueness, wander, wide central image
Noise
Good: No extraneous noise
Not Good:
Continuous:
Low-pitched:
Pure, lacking harmonics:
60Hz or 120Hz:
hum
20 to 100Hz: acoustic feedback (turntable)
With spiky edges: buzz
Wideband:
Low-frequency:
turntable rumble
Full-range:
"ff"-sound:
pink noise, tape hiss, FM interstation hiss
"ss"-sound: white noise
High-frequency whistle: heterodyning, D/A idling noise
Random or Periodic:
200Hz to 1000Hz:
acoustic feedback, howl, squawk
33 times/minute "ff"-sound: LP pressing imperfection, swish, whoosh
Impulse noises: crackles, pops, surface noise, ticks
Realism
Good: aliveness, ease, delicacy, involvement, musicality, naturalness, palpable, realism, transparency
Not Good: boring, colored, dead, distorted, lifeless, uninvolving
Soundstaging
WIDTH:
Good:
beyond-the-speakers, floating, palpable, spacious
Not Good: narrow, pinched, restricted
CONTINUITY:
Good:
center fill, coherent, stereo spread
Not Good: bunched, hole-in-the-middle
DEPTH:
Good:
layering, perspective
Not Good: distant, flat, forward, laid-back, polite, recessed, Row-A, Row-M
Texture
Good: liquid, textureless, transparent
Not Good: dry, chalky, grainy, gritty, harsh, hashy, rough
Timbre
Good: accurate, natural, uncolored
Not Good: chesty, colored, hooty, horn sound, metallic, steely, thin, vowel coloration, wiry
Transient response
Good: articulation, attack, controlled, delicate, detailed, fast, quick, tight
Not Good: closed-in, dull, ringing, rounded, slow, sluggish, smeared

  • "ee" (rhymes with "we") A vowel coloration caused by a frequency-response peak centered around 3.5kHz. effortless Unstrained; showing no signs of audible stress during loud passages. Compare "strained."
  • "eh" (as in "bed") A vowel coloration caused by a frequency-response peak centered around 2kHz.
  • fuzz, fuzziness A coarse but soft-edged texturing of reproduced sound. Like "hash," but with muffled-sounding spikes.
  • ih" (as in "bit") A vowel coloration caused by a frequency-response peak centered around 3.5kHz.
  • 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.
  • 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.




  • 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.

  • 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.​

  • "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.​

  • 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.​

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

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

  • rolloff (also rollout) A frequency response which falls gradually above or below a certain frequency limit. By comparison, the term cutoff (often abbreviated to "cut," as in "bass cut") implies an abrupt loss of level above or below the frequency limit.​

  • rosinous (or resinous) Describes the "zizzy" quality of bowed strings, particularly of cellos or violas​

  • rounding, rounding-off The shearing-off of sharp attack transients, due to poor transient response or restricted HF range. See "slow," "speed."​

  • row-A sound Sound which is up-front, forward.​

  • row-M sound Sound which is laid-back, distant.​

  • rumble An extraneous low-frequency noise, often of indeterminate pitch, caused by physical vibration of a turntable or of the room in which a recording was made.​

  • sibilance A coloration that resembles or exaggerates the vocal s-sound.

  • sizzly Emphasis of the frequency range above about 8kHz, which adds sibilance to all sounds, particularly those of cymbals and vocal esses (sibilants).

  • slam British for impact.​

  • slap In an acoustical space, a repeated echo recurring at a rate of about 3 per second, common to moderate-sized, bare-walled acoustical spaces. See "hand-clap test." Compare "fluttery," "plastery."​

  • spitty An edgy "ts" coloration which exaggerates musical overtones and sibilants as well as LP surface noise. Usually the result of a sharp response peak in the upper treble range.​

  • steely Shrill. Like "hard," but more so.​

  • tempo The actual number of beats per minute in a musical performance. Compare "pace."​

  • texture, texturing A perceptible pattern or structure in reproduced sound, even if random in nature. Texturing gives the impression that the energy continuum of the sound is composed of discrete particles, like the grain of a photograph.​

  • thick Describes sodden or heavy bass.​

  • thin Very deficient in bass. The result of severe attenuation of the range below 500Hz.​

  • tick A high-pitched pulse characterized by a very sharp attack followed by a short "i" vowel sound. The most common background noise from analog discs.​

  • tight 1) Bass reproduction that is well controlled, free from hangover, not slow. 2) Stereo imaging that is specific, stable, and of the correct width. 3) Describes a closely bunched image in A+B double-mono mode that occupies a very narrow space between the loudspeakers.​

  • tilt 1) To aim the axis of a loudspeaker upward or downward. 2) Across-the-board rotation of an otherwise flat frequency response, so that the device's output increases or decreases at a uniform rate with increasing frequency. A linear frequency-response curve that is not horizontal.​

  • timbre The recognizable characteristic sound "signature" of a musical instrument, by which it is possible to tell an oboe, for example, from a flute when both are sounding the same note.​

  • timing The apparent instrumental ensemble (synchronism) of a performance, which is affected by system speed. See "articulation," "rhythm," "pace."​

  • tipped-up Having a rising high-frequency response.​

  • tizzy A "zz" or "ff" coloration of the sound of cymbals and vocal sibilants, caused by a rising frequency response above 10kHz. Similar to "wiry," but at a higher frequency.​

  • tonality In music, the quality of an instrument's tone, often related to the key in which the music is written. In audio, mistakenly used in place of "tonal quality."​

  • tonal quality The accuracy (correctness) with which reproduced sound replicates the timbres of the original instruments. Compare "tonality."​

  • top The high treble, the range of audio frequencies above about 8kHz.​

  • upper bass The range of frequencies from 80-160Hz.​

  • upper highs, upper treble The range of frequencies from 10-20kHz.​

  • upper middles, upper midrange The range of frequencies from 650-1300Hz.​








  • vowel coloration A form of midrange or low-treble coloration which impresses upon all program material a tonal "flavor" re~sembling a vowel in speech.​
  • wiry Having an edgy or distorted high end, similar to the "tish" of brushed cymbals, but coloring all sounds reproduced by the system.​

 
Last edited:

Xulonn

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Jun 27, 2018
Messages
1,687
Likes
5,283
Location
Boquete, Chiriqui, Panama
Although the OP links some headings to the Stereophile audiophile glossary, that fact should have been stated explicitly up front. Stereophile consistently glosses over the unresolved differences between their measurements and sighted listening reviews, and seems to ignore the vast gulf of disparity that sometimes exists between their test/measurement segments vs. the actual reviews

The previous post in this thread veers away from science by a fair amount. The overlap of verbal and musical neural networks is interesting, but does not validate the word salad environment of the hard-core audiophile world. The "perception" of the characteristics described - as used by audiophiles and audiophile journalists - are not based entirely on actual physical detection of acoustic phenomena, but rather they are heavily influenced by expectation bias and other mental/psychological interpretations of sighted listening. If such characteristics are claimed to be heard only in sighted listening sessions, they cannot be considered valid unless verified by rigorously designed and prepared blind listening sessions.

I am not aware of any audible sonic characteristic of sound or music that is confirmed by blind listening sessions that cannot be measured. If a difference is truly audible, it can be measured, although there may be a challenge in figuring out what and how to measure.

Indeed, one of the foundations of this science-based audio forum is the fun and challenge of correlating sonic perceptions to measurements such as frequency response, distortion, timing variations, room acoustics, etc., which is often addressed by @amirm in the subjective listening sessions that follow his objective review and measurements, and correlations and conflicts are often mentioned by discussion participants.

None of what I say in this post means that one should not make a final decision based on the "sound" that they like best by listening in their own environment. However, the knowledge that certain sonic characteristics and sound signatures can make a good first impression - but be fatiguing or irritating in the long haul - can be valuable. There are many people here who have owned the same components - including speakers - for many years - and still enjoy them thoroughly. (I have a feeling that many of these "stable audiophiles" have also had a single career/profession and lived for long periods in the same house or apartment.) There are others - like me - who are influenced by a curiosity about differences, and the pressures of consumer society/economy, who change jobs and components fairly frequently, and move often. I'm 79 y/o and I've never lived in the same house or apartment for more than five years, and that is about the same cycle as my audio gear turnover. Fortunately, I often bought and sold my more expensive gear used, saving a lot of money.
 
Top Bottom