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Why is the term "warm" such a controversial subject?

coonmanx

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I am an objectivist mainly. And that is because over the years specifications have been something I have paid attention to when buying equipment.

Amps should have very little distortion. Speakers should have good dispersion characteristics. The frequency response of speakers should be fairly flat.

It seems to me that the term "warm" gets used for equipment or systems that have a sound that may in fact be colored. I want my system to faithfully reproduce music, not to color the sound. However, I do tweak the frequencies just a bit sometimes with an EQ to make it just right, at least for my ears. And I know that my Speakerlab 1's have a fairly flat response since way back when I had an EQ with a pink noise generator and a mic and after the process of using that the only slider that was not at zero was the 32 Hz, because those speakers have an 8" woofer.

I would be happier using the term "full sounding" instead of warm. Something that envelopes you.

Thoughts? Not trying to start a war here. It seems that I am somehow asking about a sacred word. One that must never be questioned in any way...
 
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coonmanx

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I have heard some people state that "A system may spec very well but sound like doggie doo doo". I have never experienced that. Good quality equipment tends to produce quality sound. And as long as they did not skimp on anything to get those good specs, that has proven to be true for me throughout the years. I'm not hung up on whether an amp has 0.02% distortion or 0.05% distortion. I doubt that matters. And I also get that there is a difference when talking about tube gear and distortion. It's not the same as SS gear.

I like equipment that does what it says it will do, faithfully reproduce the source material. I don't want any "color" built in. Id I want to add color, then I can do that with tone controls or an EQ. I use those very sparingly. Very slight adjustments for personal taste.
 

levimax

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The problem is "warm" doesn't really mean anything when referring to an audio playback system.... it is just a subjective adjective without a definition just like "fast" or "slow" or "harsh" or "cold" or "sterile" and on and on. I guess "bright" has a definition of the high frequencies being boosted but by how much and at what frequency? Maybe "warm" is boosted upper bass? I don't know what "full sounding" means either. To me aiming for a "flat" FR and then using tone controls or DSP to tune things to your preference/ adjust for recording issues makes sense but audiophile adjectives don't.
 

Robin L

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I think we just need to replace the word warm with "moist" that'll resolve people getting all bent out of shape about that descriptor.
I always thought the term meant an upper bass/lower midrange boost, also known as "Fat", or better still "Phat". While tonal neutrality is the stated goal of folks at ASR, there obviously is room to tune a system to taste. As far as I'm concerned this is on the scale of seating position in a performance venue. Get further back, tilt control goes up on the bottom and down on the top. Front row and upper balcony are equally "real", sound drastically different. And some want to be in the performer's lap, some want to listen at some remove.

I've had a system that had vintage tubes [Scott 299b integrated amp] and a [Strathclyde 305m/SME III] turntable. The cartridge I used [Shure 97xe, RIP] rolled off the top two octaves. The total effect might not have been accurate, but the net effect of that system was very good with LPs made around the same time as the playback gear. It wouldn't work with all music, but with classic pop vocal and Jazz it had a presence that CD playback didn't. I'd say "warmth" was one of that system's attributes, but there was also a sense of presence lacking in my solid state/CD system. The SS/Digital system was much better at reproducing multiple lines in thick orchestrations. Some might find it "cold" sounding. But the sound of a string section in Zellerbach Hall will always be cold [and ugly, horrible room for that purpose]. That is to say, there is a range of possible sounds that can be considered "real" that aren't necessarily good sounding. My experience is that a good tubes 'n' turntables chain will tend to prettify things, really good solid state/digital has more resolution, allowing more "ugly" sounds through that might be obscured in LP playback.
 
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coonmanx

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The problem is "warm" doesn't really mean anything when referring to an audio playback system.... it is just a subjective adjective without a definition just like "fast" or "slow" or "harsh" or "cold" or "sterile" and on and on. I guess "bright" has a definition of the high frequencies being boosted but by how much and at what frequency? Maybe "warm" is boosted upper bass? I don't know what "full sounding" means either. To me aiming for a "flat" FR and then using tone controls or DSP to tune things to your preference/ adjust for recording issues makes sense but audiophile adjectives don't.
I think you nailed it. I have seen it described as boosted upper bass as well.
 

Robin L

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How about "chocolatey"?
" . . . "It's like I have a separate channel for each one," Mucho said, excited, "and if I need more I just expand. Add on what I need. I don't know how it works, but lately I can do it with people talking too. Say 'rich, chocolaty goodness.'" "Rich, chocolaty, goodness," said Oedipa. "Yes," said Mucho, and fell silent. "Well, what?" Oedipa asked after a couple minutes, with an edge to her voice. "I noticed it the other night hearing Rabbit do a commercial. No matter who's talking, the different power spectra are the same, give or take a small percentage. So you and Rabbit have something in common now. More than that. Everybody who says the same words is the same person if the spectra are the same only they happen differently in time, you dig? But the time is arbitrary. You pick your zero point anywhere you want, that way you can shuffle each person's time line sideways till they all coincide. Then you'd have this big, God, maybe a couple hundred million chorus saying 'rich, chocolaty goodness' together, and it would all be the same voice. . . "
 

ernestcarl

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I'd rather see accompanying measurements alongside whatever is the subjective "narrative" I'm trying to convey:

1649960710391.png


No EQ applied to my main speakers is never, ever preferred.

Linear "flat" EQ is what I prefer with low to medium-low vol. level listening -- allowing me to hear the most amount of detail.

No boosting EQ & -4dB HF shelf ("warm" ?) is used when listening at maximum volume. The previous linear "flat" EQ preset at concert SPL volumes just hurt my ears.
 
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mhardy6647

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well...
when it comes to things like
  • many (not all) vacuum tube amplifiers
  • Altec VOTs, Duplexes, and their kin
  • Denon DL-103 cartridges
  • many Grado MI cartridges
think the word lush is more signifying of what I hear and think of.

When it comes to... ahhh... audiophile terms like warm... I mean... there are standardized (although perhaps not universally embraced) definitions.
e.g., some of the published resources may be found in this thread (there are others):
 

DVDdoug

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Some people say "warm" to describe the sound from a slightly-overdriven microphone preamp... Probably a tube preamp with soft-clipping... I used to think it means a mid-bass boost but now I just try to avoid saying (or writing) it. I do sometimes say "bright" or "dull" but I try to remember to also say boosted or rolled-of highs.

IMO - Terms like this (and especially all of the nonsense "audiophile terminology") should only be used with a description or explanation... "The mid-bass resonance gives a warm sound", etc. And it wouldn't hurt to have a frequency response graph or some measurements to go-along with that.

Whaddya Mean the Sound Is Fluffy?
 
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Pogre

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It's not that controversial. I think I get it when someone is using it to describe a property of a speaker. It's just overused and often misleading. Particularly when describing (fallaciously) sound signatures of solid state amps and receivers.
 

Astoneroad

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Here's my rig... McIntosh MC7300 with Sonus Faber Cremonas. I hear the "warm" thing all the time and just smile. I don't know what it means, but I love the way that it sounds. I had a NAD M33 last year, and that didn't sound "warm" at all and went back to my vintage Mc. So, whether it's psychoacoustics or psychotic genetics... I don't know. By the way... the "candles" are LEDs so don't add to the total "warmth" of the output.
1649962405507.jpeg
 

KellenVancouver

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To me the word "warm" just means adulterated sound. Impure. It is like advertising a better tasting water when you can't do better than H2O. Or a better tasting salt beyond NaCl. I suppose a given individual may prefer adulterated sound, just like someone might prefer "Himalayan salt" or "sea salt" beyond just NaCl, but more than anything it just seems another opportunity for marketing snakeoil
 
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coonmanx

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It's not that controversial. I think I get it when someone is using it to describe a property of a speaker. It's just overused and often misleading. Particularly when describing (fallaciously) sound signatures of solid state amps and receivers.
I agree and think that it is overused because people tend to use it when they like the sound of something. So it gets labeled as "being warm sounding". I heard someone use it the other day in regards to a certain pair of speakers that they seemed to like. Then later in the same thread someone stated that those speakers were crap.

I like things that sound good and reproduce the source well. I don't really care if someone labels it warm, cold or whatever else.
 
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coonmanx

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To me the word "warm" just means adulterated sound. Impure. It is like advertising a better tasting water when you can't do better than H2O. Or a better tasting salt beyond NaCl. I suppose a given individual may prefer adulterated sound, just like someone might prefer "Himalayan salt" or "sea salt" beyond just NaCl, but more than anything it just seems another opportunity for marketing snakeoil
Agreed. And if I like the sound a certaim way then I want to be in control of that. I don't want a certain color of sound built in. I want neutral and then I can add the spices if I want.
 
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coonmanx

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Here's my rig... McIntosh MC7300 with Sonus Faber Cremonas. I hear the "warm" thing all the time and just smile. I don't know what it means, but I love the way that it sounds. I had a NAD M33 last year, and that didn't sound "warm" at all and went back to my vintage Mc. So, whether it's psychoacoustics or psychotic genetics... I don't know. By the way... the "candles" are LEDs so don't add to the total "warmth" of the output.
View attachment 199898
I used to own an NAD 7140 for many years. Got rid of it a few years back and don't miss it. I don't think there is any compariosn between what McIntosh produces and what NAD does. I found the quality of the NAD stuff to be lacking.
 
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