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Words that are meaningless in the context of an audio review, A list of words which discredit a review by their inclusion
wakibaki
post May 6 2012, 02:40
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I've google searched for this list, but either my search criteria are bad or it isn't out there.

My apologies if this is not an original topic.

As the title says, I'm trying to compile a list of words that are employed by audio reviewers and forum pundits in their descriptions of the performance of equipment that don't actually convey anything useful.

A couple of words that have come to my attention recently are 'uninvolving' and 'fatigueing'. Both of these at first sight are characteristics that I wouldn't want my equipment to have, but on reflection they're so unspecific that I feel that the reviewer might just as well have said 'I don't like this equipment, but for no good reason I can put a name to'. Since the whole purpose of a review is to provide specific descriptions of equipment characteristics, I've come to feel that the inclusion of these words automatically discredits the reviewer

Another word I'm not too happy with is 'thin', but perhaps you don't share my view. Anyway, I'm going to leave it open to others now to make some contributions.

w

This post has been edited by wakibaki: May 6 2012, 02:41


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ZAPNSPARK
post May 7 2012, 19:03
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The following words were collected from an actual 2 part review in
an audio webzine. It's not a complete list.
Can anyone guess what was being reviewed?

Airy
Anemic
Anvil-taught
Assertive
Balanced
Bassy
Billowing
Bite
Bloom
Bold
Brassy
Breathy
Bright
Brittle
Broken
Buzz
Clarity
Clean
Clear
Closed
Clouded
Coherence
Compressed
Confident
Damped
Dark
Dense
Detail
Detailed
Diminutive
Distinct
Dynamic
Ear-grabbing
Eargasmic
Effervescent
Elegant
Exotic
Extended
Fast
Feathery
Flair
Flavored
Flowing
Fluffier
Fluid
Full
Glare
Grain
Harsh
Hollow
Impactful
Laid-back
Liquid
Liveliness
Magical
Midrange-centric
Muddy
Musical
Natural
Neutral
Occluded
Open
Overdone
Personality
Pleasing
Polite
Punchy
Refined
Rich
Romantic
Sexy
Slippery
Slow
Smooth
Sophisticated
Sparkling
Spitty
Strained
Subtle
Syrupy
Tasteful
Textured
Thick
Thin
Tight
Transparent
Veiled
Vivid
Warm
Wholesome

Cheers.

ZAPNSPARK
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Arnold B. Kruege...
post May 8 2012, 14:06
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QUOTE (ZAPNSPARK @ May 7 2012, 14:03) *
The following words were collected from an actual 2 part review in
an audio webzine. It's not a complete list.
Can anyone guess what was being reviewed?

[unnecessary full quote of list removed]

A little Googling shed the following light.

(1) The above list appeared earlier on the Gearslutz forum and was said to apply to a review of capacitors.

(2) All of the above words appear in a standard reference called "A rhyming words dictionary".

One can only speculate on the genesis of the two-part article referenced in (1).

This post has been edited by db1989: May 8 2012, 19:13
Reason for edit: Users can view the original post if they are interested in the list.
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krabapple
post May 9 2012, 16:46
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QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2012, 09:06) *
QUOTE (ZAPNSPARK @ May 7 2012, 14:03) *
The following words were collected from an actual 2 part review in
an audio webzine. It's not a complete list.
Can anyone guess what was being reviewed?

[unnecessary full quote of list removed]

A little Googling shed the following light.

(1) The above list appeared earlier on the Gearslutz forum and was said to apply to a review of capacitors.

(2) All of the above words appear in a standard reference called "A rhyming words dictionary".

One can only speculate on the genesis of the two-part article referenced in (1).



It would be easy enough to take any single issue of The Absolute Sound and develop a similar, though perhaps smaller, list.

The classic of its pretentious type is the acronym PRAT: among golden ears, components are said to differ in their 'Pace, Rhythm, and Timing'. As if amplifiers were musicians. It's Emperor's New Clothes idiocy.

This post has been edited by krabapple: May 9 2012, 16:47
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Nessuno
post May 10 2012, 08:49
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Left alone all the considerations if a common three-axis cartesian system is the one to use or a polar one is more suitable, if it's better to speak in non euclidean terms and not forget about the fourth dimension etc... I think that the word "threedimensionality" has a precise and perfectly understandable sense in audio gear review (at least the one you can search for in a magazine, not in "Transactions of" wink.gif ) and the concept beneath is absolutely clear.

I explain:

I listen mainly to classical, a kind of music that has always been performed on an actual three dimensions space long before audio gears came into use. There are even compositions that make explicit use of space effects (Gabrieli's canzoni a due cori or J. S. Bach's first choir from Mattew's passion are just the firsts that come to my mind) .
I regularly attend to concerts and have thus developed a rather accurate mental three dimensional image of an orchestra, a quartet, an opera singer playing on stage etc...
It happened to me, rarely I admit, to listen to a stereo set able to recreate, even in part, that image. As to say: a soloist very next to me on the foreground but not the size of a mountain, violins right behind, then horns, then triangle in the far background etc...
On the other extreme of sonical experiences, with some system all instruments are simply clustered around the two speakers. No "virtual" space at all.
Never actually tried (never had the chance to) but I think I could ABX two completely different systems, at least the speakers if not the electronics.

Now, from those premises, when a reviewer writes about "threedimensionality" I understand what he, in a simply qualitative and straightforward way, wants to communicate me. Then I can accept that a set of speakers, if properly positioned, can have "threedimensional" capabilities of his own and an amplifier or a converter cannot, but not deny that such a term has a meaning and blame the reviewer if he uses it.

This post has been edited by Nessuno: May 10 2012, 09:07


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honestguv
post May 10 2012, 14:38
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 08:49) *
Now, from those premises, when a reviewer writes about "threedimensionality" I understand what he, in a simply qualitative and straightforward way, wants to communicate me. Then I can accept that a set of speakers, if properly positioned, can have "threedimensional" capabilities of his own and an amplifier or a converter cannot, but not deny that such a term has a meaning and blame the reviewer if he uses it.

Given that a pair of speakers can be used to create the illusion of sound sources in a 3D space to some extent (and they can albeit not as well as headphones) how useful is an emotive qualitative description to a consumer that has not signed up for audiophile beliefs and can see a large number of other emotive qualitative descriptions in the review many of which appear to make no rational sense (e.g. your 3 dimensional applied to cables). If those conducting the review genuinely wished to convey how well a pair of speakers performed at locating sound sources in 3D space don't you think there are some quantitative ways to do it? Ways that would stand scrutiny by others and could be relied upon by consumers? So why don't they do it?
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Nessuno
post May 10 2012, 16:54
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QUOTE (honestguv @ May 10 2012, 15:38) *
If those conducting the review genuinely wished to convey how well a pair of speakers performed at locating sound sources in 3D space don't you think there are some quantitative ways to do it? Ways that would stand scrutiny by others and could be relied upon by consumers? So why don't they do it?

QUOTE
I would suggest a bit of caution about drawing general conclusions from a particular set of measurements without their supporting discussion.

Guess who wrote this very sentence, in another thread! wink.gif
What the word "discussion" means there?

The topic at hand is about reviews, right? A review, I hope you agree, is by definition and to a certain extent a subjective act and the reader, to a certain extent, is supposed to thrust the reviewer, his knowledge of the matter and bona fide. Otherwise all the purpose of the review is flawed from the beginning and there's no reason in keep on, or even start reading it.

Supposed I even start to read a review about cables, hardly possible indeed, if I see remarks about their three dimensonality I simply skip the rest and else from that reviewer, if I find the same remark in a speaker review I keep on reading, that's all.

And even so, of course, reading is not believing...


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honestguv
post May 11 2012, 13:07
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QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) *
QUOTE (honestguv @ May 10 2012, 15:38) *
If those conducting the review genuinely wished to convey how well a pair of speakers performed at locating sound sources in 3D space don't you think there are some quantitative ways to do it? Ways that would stand scrutiny by others and could be relied upon by consumers? So why don't they do it?

QUOTE
I would suggest a bit of caution about drawing general conclusions from a particular set of measurements without their supporting discussion.

Guess who wrote this very sentence, in another thread! wink.gif
What the word "discussion" means there?

I cannot see the point you are trying to make. The second quote concerns a set of measurements without their supporting discussion which are to some degree in disagreement with other similar measurements. Because the measurements are showing something unexpected the absence of the discussion is more serious than if they agreed with other measurements. The first quote is trying to put the word 3 dimensionality back into the context of a anaudiophile review.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) *
The topic at hand is about reviews, right?

The topic of the thread is the meaning of audiophile words in reviews. You introduced the word 3 dimensionality saying it had a meaning for you. I was trying to extract more information on what/why given the context of the word within an audiophile review.

QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) *
A review, I hope you agree, is by definition and to a certain extent a subjective act and the reader, to a certain extent, is supposed to thrust the reviewer, his knowledge of the matter and bona fide. Otherwise all the purpose of the review is flawed from the beginning and there's no reason in keep on, or even start reading it.

If a review of the performance of technical equipment is subjective it is a big red flag that something odd is going on. If the reviewer discusses 3 dimensionality in a way that cannot be checked by others it is a big red flag. If the reviewer discusses 3 dimensionality without running simple test signals to quantify how well sources are located it is a big red flag. If the reviewer is not even competent, never mind an expert, when it comes to the technical performance of the device they are reviewing it is an enormous red flag. If...

Audiophile reviews only make sense if you recognise that they are not primarily trying to inform the consumer about the technical performance of the device being reviewed. Within this context the emotive, vague and conflicting meanings associated with many audiophile words is fine.
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Nessuno
post May 11 2012, 21:57
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QUOTE (honestguv @ May 11 2012, 14:07) *
I cannot see the point you are trying to make. The second quote concerns a set of measurements without their supporting discussion which are to some degree in disagreement with other similar measurements. Because the measurements are showing something unexpected the absence of the discussion is more serious than if they agreed with other measurements.

I admit I find difficult to understand the concept of a measure "agreeing" or "disagreeing" with something else. A measure is a fact and it is objective by definition. When you feel it "unexpected" and need to comment it, you are introducing a subjective element.
Not that I see something wrong with this, in principle and in that case, but I'm also sure you know that, for example, reasoning about a measure may also lead to wrong conclusions (TOS #8 forbids graphs as only objective proof not by chance), especially when discussing matters like the three dimensional illusion created by a couple of speakers, where there is no agreement upon a measure or set of measures that objectively and completely characterise it.

All the more, I've never said that a speakers review should not show measurements (and if you browse an audiophile magazine you'll find plenty, even used to justify unrealistic and plainly wrong claims!), but only that using also the word three-dimensonality in this context is understandable and not by itself disqualifying.

And to say it all, it seems to me a form of snobbism to dismiss a review only upon a word that has a precise, although "qualitative", meaning. Of course, if I see a bad response graph at highs, a bad time decay graph, a bad off axis radiation pattern and so on AND whithin the same review I read about good three dimensionality... well... I start to doubt.

QUOTE
You introduced the word 3 dimensionality saying it had a meaning for you. I was trying to extract more information on what/why given the context of the word within an audiophile review.

I've already tried to explain what and why in a previous post.

QUOTE
If the reviewer is not even competent, never mind an expert, when it comes to the technical performance of the device they are reviewing it is an enormous red flag. If...

And you think that speaking about the capability of a set of speakers to reproduce a three dimensional image is enough to judge the reviewer an incompetent?

QUOTE
Audiophile reviews only make sense if you recognise that they are not primarily trying to inform the consumer about the technical performance of the device being reviewed. Within this context the emotive, vague and conflicting meanings associated with many audiophile words is fine.

It depends on what meaning you give to "technical performance" of a device like a speaker. For an electronic device, system theory (and linear system theory most of the times) gives us precise ways to predict how they will behave with inputs within specs and for this reason I even see little point in "reviewing" them. Speakers (more precisely, transducers) are still, AFAIK, not completely described in every aspect of their performances by a set of measurements and for them I consider there is (still?) space for subjective reviews.

By the way, is this site your ideal of reviewer? wink.gif

This post has been edited by Nessuno: May 11 2012, 22:01


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Posts in this topic
- wakibaki   Words that are meaningless in the context of an audio review   May 6 2012, 02:40
- - Glenn Gundlach   Ask 10 people for their definition of 'muddy...   May 6 2012, 06:05
- - skamp   "analog sounding" (isn't everything ...   May 6 2012, 09:58
- - Speedskater   Way back in 1990, J. Gordon Holt wrote a 152 page ...   May 6 2012, 12:38
|- - wakibaki   QUOTE (Speedskater @ May 6 2012, 12:38) W...   May 6 2012, 20:37
- - stephan_g   This glossary? BTW, "euphoric" (excited...   May 6 2012, 17:47
|- - porky_pig_jr   QUOTE (stephan_g @ May 6 2012, 17:47) Thi...   May 7 2012, 04:33
|- - skamp   QUOTE (stephan_g @ May 6 2012, 18:47) BTW...   May 7 2012, 08:58
- - bug80   Another classic: danceable   May 6 2012, 22:04
|- - andy o   QUOTE (bug80 @ May 6 2012, 14:04) Another...   May 7 2012, 02:13
|- - PoisonDan   QUOTE (bug80 @ May 6 2012, 23:04) Another...   May 7 2012, 10:52
- - smok3   some of these: "Music had a vail lifted with ...   May 6 2012, 23:19
- - greynol   I think I remember that one. Wasn't it about s...   May 7 2012, 00:27
|- - wakibaki   QUOTE (greynol @ May 7 2012, 00:27) Waki,...   May 7 2012, 03:10
- - mzil   "Butterscotch"   May 7 2012, 00:51
- - knutinh   3-dimensionality   May 7 2012, 06:36
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (knutinh @ May 7 2012, 07:36) 3-dim...   May 7 2012, 09:01
|- - Zarggg   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 7 2012, 04:01) QUOTE...   May 7 2012, 15:31
||- - Nessuno   QUOTE (Zarggg @ May 7 2012, 16:31) QUOTE ...   May 7 2012, 17:28
|- - knutinh   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 7 2012, 10:01) QUOTE...   May 9 2012, 13:09
- - ech3   Warm.   May 7 2012, 14:42
- - greynol   Two points can only define one dimension (two dime...   May 7 2012, 15:36
- - greynol   It was not an analogy; it was a clarification and ...   May 7 2012, 17:33
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (greynol @ May 7 2012, 18:33) You d...   May 7 2012, 19:08
- - Woodinville   With the way that most audio equipment reviews are...   May 7 2012, 18:01
|- - Canar   QUOTE (Woodinville @ May 7 2012, 10:01) W...   May 11 2012, 19:21
- - greynol   To add to that, it's also a shame since someti...   May 7 2012, 18:12
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (greynol @ May 7 2012, 19:12) To ad...   May 7 2012, 20:35
|- - icstm   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 7 2012, 19:35) QUOTE...   May 8 2012, 15:08
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (icstm @ May 8 2012, 16:08) I am a ...   May 8 2012, 17:57
- - ZAPNSPARK   The following words were collected from an actual ...   May 7 2012, 19:03
|- - Arnold B. Krueger   QUOTE (ZAPNSPARK @ May 7 2012, 14:03) The...   May 8 2012, 14:06
|- - krabapple   QUOTE (Arnold B. Krueger @ May 8 2012, 09...   May 9 2012, 16:46
|- - Nessuno   Left alone all the considerations if a common thre...   May 10 2012, 08:49
|- - honestguv   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 08:49) Now,...   May 10 2012, 14:38
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (honestguv @ May 10 2012, 15:38) If...   May 10 2012, 16:54
|- - honestguv   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 10 2012, 16:54) QUOT...   May 11 2012, 13:07
|- - Nessuno   QUOTE (honestguv @ May 11 2012, 14:07) I ...   May 11 2012, 21:57
|- - honestguv   QUOTE (Nessuno @ May 11 2012, 21:57) I ad...   May 14 2012, 14:30
|- - StephenPG   An old Simpsons song springs to mind... sorry... ...   May 14 2012, 14:50
- - ZAPNSPARK   I had posted that list of buzzwords on another for...   May 7 2012, 20:10
- - Ethan Winer   At the What's Best forum the other day, Barry ...   May 8 2012, 17:53
- - Carledwards   Audio reviews, unless limited to measurements and ...   May 9 2012, 00:18
- - greynol   Fluff words are also used by amatures in web forum...   May 9 2012, 16:32


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