Bad comparision. It's perfectly clear what cracks, pops or ticks in audio are. Grain I can only link to light distortion as a result of clipping or static noise, but that's not how it's being used. The term effectively became popular with the emerge of digital audio, but it's now used gratuitous.Just as strange when anyone refers to vinyl having "crackling" sound or "pops" and "ticks." I have no idea what vinyl sound has to do with pork skin, sodas or parasitic insects.
I’d be more than happy to adopt and use terminology that has a defined meaning, but weasel words are counter-productive and only of use to bamboozlers.
If those who think the term has a meaning can agree on what the meaning is and give a definition then the controversy would be over. We could simply add another figurative meaning of “warm” (relating to sound) to our mental dictionaries and move on. That would be my end game.
But alas, that doesn’t seem likely now, given some of the responses (including yours).
Bad comparision. It's perfectly clear what cracks, pops or ticks in audio are.
Grain I can only link to light distortion as a result of clipping or static noise, but that's not how it's being used. The term effectively became popular with the emerge of digital audio, but it's now used gratuitous.
Sorry but can't agree. Pops, cracks and and ticks are no arbitrary words, they are direct descriptions of sounds. When you break a piece of wood, it cracks. From the dictionary: "a sudden sharp or explosive noise". Warmth on the other hand, is a description of temperature in the first place.It's clear now because what was once seemingly arbitrary words became acceptable because people could say "what I mean by crackle, pop, tick" is THIS
I never rejected the meaning of warmth in the context of sound. I can even attest that it's commonly used by musicians and sound engineers. I only mentioned the issue I had with "grain".But if someone is going to just keep rejecting any explanation of what you mean by "warmth," you are in the same position as when they reject all your explanations for "pops and ticks."
Is it, for instance, a completely foreign idea to you that a dirty record, or maybe cartridge stylus wearing out, would produce a type of distortion one might refer to as "grainy?"
Sorry but can't agree. Pops, cracks and and ticks are no arbitrary words, they are direct descriptions of sounds. When you break a piece of wood, it cracks. From the dictionary: "a sudden sharp or explosive noise". Warmth on the other hand, is a description of temperature in the first place.
A dirty record is also a nice example of something that could lead to a grainy sound. But in the case you referenced they were reviewing a speaker. How can a speaker cause a grainy sound? If the speaker coil moves against the magnet? Probably not what they experienced with a new speaker.
There is nothing in principle less valid or "less direct" about using the words like "warm" vs "pop" and "tick"in audio.
My point is, strictly speaking, there is no "direct reference" between any word and a sound.
what matters is that it can be understood to refer to something specific or defined.
Very interestingIn case its not been mentioned directly, 'warmth' is not a frequency response error, its caused by (since it is audible) the 2nd and/or 3rd harmonics, usually profound enough that they are able to mask the higher orders (if they were not, 'harsh' might be the descriptor instead). The ear converts all forms of distortion to tonality, which is why audiophiles developed this term. If you are not familiar with it, you might construe it as a bit of extra mid bass or the like. But IME audiophiles describe that as a 'mid bass hump' or the like, thus drawing a distinction.
All single-ended discrete circuits whether tube or solid state will generate a 2nd harmonic (which is an indication of a quadratic non-linearity; fully balanced/differential circuits tend to suppress the even orders throughout the circuit and so are better described as having a cubic non-linearity). I suspect a lot of people aren't used to the idea that distortion is often audible (where the signal isn't being clipped). Feedback is often used to suppress innate distortions such as this. The problem has been that up until about 25 years ago or so, the devices needed to design an amplifier circuit where you really could run the high amounts of feedback necessary didn't exist. Through the process of bifurcation at the feedback node (which usually has its own non-linearities) feedback would add distortions of its own (Norman Crowhurst and Peter Baxandall both wrote about this issue). This has given feedback an undeserved bad rap in high end audio.
The second and 3rd harmonics can mask higher orders, but if the former are suppressed by feedback this can result in the amp being bright and harsh instead of 'warm'. The reason is the ear uses the higher orders to sense sound pressure (this is readily demonstrated with simple test equipment) and so is keenly sensitive to their presence even in tiny amounts. This is what has kept tubes in business since being declared obsolete 60 years ago.
So for decades audiophile have had to chose their poison- warmth, or more detail and more neutral, but with harshness and brightness. Both are colorations (if we're being honest). You need a lot of gain bandwidth product to support high amounts of feedback; if the GBP is insufficient, feedback will fall off as frequency is increased (the two are very directly related, see the link below), resulting in distortion rising with frequency. That describes all tube amplifiers and most solid state amps made. Its only been recently that this problem could be overcome, but some still haven't got the memo.
Bruno Putzeys wrote a nice primer on this topic: