Broadcast Technical Consultants

Serving you since 1994

Audio Terms

Below is a list of Audio Terms to help describe the sound you are hearing.  Your definition may not be the same has someone else's so we have compiled this list to help with that barrier.  We welcome any suggestions of terms.




Airy: Also see Spacious. Music sounds like it is surrounded by a large space full of air. Good reproduction of high-frequencies.

Bassy: Also see Boomy. Emphasized low frequencies below about 200 Hz.

Bloated: Excessive mid-bass around 250 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies, low-frequency resonances.

Blurry: Poor transient response. Vague stereo imaging, not focused - poor separation.

Boomy: Excessive bass at or around 125 Hz. Poorly damped low frequencies or low-frequency resonances. 

Boxy: Also see Muffled. Sounds as if the music were enclosed in a box.

Breathy: Audible breath sounds. Good response in the upper-midrange or high frequencies.

Brilliant: See Bright.

Bright: Also see Full. High-frequency emphasis. Harmonics are strong relative to fundamental sounds.

Clean or Clear: Also see Crisp. Easy to hear deep into the music, detailed, clear, not muddy. Wide frequency response, sharp, very low distortion and noise.

Closed: See Boxy.

Crisp: Extended high-frequency response, especially with cymbals. Easy to hear tiny details in the music.

Depth: A sense of distance of the different music elements - close to far.

Dirty: Lots of harmonic or Inter-modulation distortion. Opposite of Clean or Clear.

Distorted: Also see Blurry. Not a natural sound, no clear definition of sound. Opposite of Clean or Clear.

Dull: Weak high frequencies. A flat sound. Opposite of Sharp.

Edgy: Too many audible high frequencies. High Treble sound. Distorted, having unwanted harmonics that add a raspiness.

Fat: See Full and Warm.

Full: Strong fundamentals relative to harmonics. Good low-frequency response, not necessarily extended, but with adequate midrange. Opposite of thin.

Grainy: The music sounds like it is segmented into little grains, rather than flowing in one continuous piece. Not liquid or fluid. Almost sounds like static. Suffering from harmonic or Inter-modulation distortion.

Hard: Also see Harsh. Too much upper midrange. As if the sound is hitting you hard. 

Harsh: Too much upper midrange. Peaks in the frequency response between 2 and 6 kHz. Very hard on the ears.

Hollow: Has echo or lacks Presence.

Meaty: Good very low frequency response below about 50 Hz. Could be described as a Full Boomy sound.

Mellow: Reduced high frequencies, not edgy. Very soft or easy to listen to.

Muddy: Not Clear or Clean. Weak harmonics, smeared time response, Inter-modulation distortion.

Muffled: Sounds like it is covered with a blanket. Weak highs or weak upper midrange.

Open: See Airy.

Piercing: Strident, hard on the ears, screechy. Having sharp, narrow peaks in the response of mid to high frequencies.

Presence: A sense that the music is present in the listening room. As if the music surrounds you. Some synonyms include: fullness, punch, detail, closeness and clarity.

Punchy: Good reproduction of dynamics. A full presence with a strong impact.

Rich: Also see Full. Smooth: Easy on the ears, not Harsh. Good midrange flat frequency response. 

Sharp: Very Piercing or Edgy sound. Not easy to listen to.

Spacious: Conveying a sense of space, ambiance, or room around the music source. Stereo reverb.

Thin: Fundamentals of the sound are weak relative to harmonics. Not Full.

Tinny: Narrowband, weak lows, peaky midrange. The music sounds like it is coming through a telephone or tin can.

Warm: Also see Rich. Good bass, adequate low frequencies. Not thin. Pleasantly spacious, with adequate reverberation at low frequencies.