What defines a warm sound?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by 0Hz, May 8, 2018.

  1. 0Hz

    0Hz Active Member

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    Maybe this is a dumb question, or maybe it's been asked before.

    Maybe I am just derpy, but I can't really differentiate what feels warm vs what feels "cold" / digital ??

    I've grown up with digital, I am a big fan of chiptunes and video game music, and I listened to other music on CD's growing up. I listened to some stuff on tape, but I don't really have a tape source anymore.

    How would you go about comparing for instance. Even if you ran digital music (a FLAC from a CD or something) through an analog receiver that is supposed to sound warm - would the receiver color that digital music in any way?

    Is it usually just the phono / tape inputs that carry that warm sound, or is it the amp design in general?

    i didn't buy my SX-636 looking for a specific type of sound or anything, I bought it mostly for nostalgia and its a right proper good unit for its class. But I'd be very interested to try and compare some of my digital sources against vinyl albums I have. If I could understand how and what to look for.

    My hearing is not the best when it comes to some frequencies (apparently) maybe I just lack the biomechanical filter to really become nitpicky over it?

    Someone set me on the right track, please.
     
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  2. DaveVoorhis

    DaveVoorhis Super Member

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    "Warm" suggests prominent bass and emphasised midrange with rolled-off highs and a lack of detail.

    Like a vintage floor-standing radio; those are decidedly (and sometimes exaggeratedly) "warm". I find warmth artificial, but some like it.

    By those who like a "warm" sound, good digital may be described as "cold" when it delivers flat frequency response and detail because it lacks the specific "warm" artificiality they prefer.
     
  3. Chris Brown

    Chris Brown Super Member

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    It can be difficult because this is a very vague term and is used in so many contexts. Sometimes it can suggest a general emphasis on the lower and midrange frequencies, mid-bass frequencies all the way up to the vocal frequencies (think AM-radio vocal) but not much beyond that. For some it can also sometimes define the characteristics of soft-clipping.

    It's important to get away from the idea that digital is "cold". Done correctly, digital should be nothing more than transparent. It won't make anything "warm", but it shouldn't be making anything "cold" either.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  4. 0Hz

    0Hz Active Member

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    I was afraid it would be something like that. I definitely like to hear the low end frequencies personally. But find that seems to be more an issue of track mixing than signals in general.
    I know on my SX-636 so far with the knobs at neutral it sounds a lot better if I listen at low volume (7 - 8 o'clock) with Loudness mode enabled. I can mostly mimic it if I leave loudness off and crank up the bass and then trebel a little bit as well. I think getting better speakers ASAP will held as well. I do not have good speakers for low end frequencies currently.


    At that point I guess doing an A/B with a vinyl and FLAC produce from a CD of the same album would be the only way to see if I spot real differences.

    Personally I like vinyl for the experience and imperfections (pops and such undesireable noise) more than any attributed "warm" sound of analog.

    thanks for the input guys.
     
  5. tubed

    tubed Lunatic Member

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    Emphasized upper bass/ lower midrange but not too much so the speaker remains well balanced.
    Very nice, imo.
    Lows and highs can be extended.
    [​IMG]
     
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  6. audiosignal

    audiosignal Active Member

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    A lot of the warmth comes from the interplay and manifestation of the harmonics that certain vintage gear has, that newer gear lacks.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  7. Djcoolray

    Djcoolray Addicted Member

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    It’s best to stick with what actual musical instruments sound like.....

    Something not amplified !!!!
     
  8. nj pheonix

    nj pheonix AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Interesting question.
    IMO, almost like opinions on gear itself. In that, it's not a scientific term so we attach our interpretation to the how we perceive the term.
    I tend to agree with the first part of the early description. Not as much with the second half.(rolled off highs)
    I'm not saying that's not what it means because the person who wrote it does has that perception .
    I guess my point is , in describing sound we (You, I, anyone) we attach words to convey our take (some , better than others and I likely fall in the latter half).
    Also "warm" in this context , can be anywhere from a good thing to a bad thing.
    Clear as mud? Right?
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  9. 0Hz

    0Hz Active Member

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    I think I do associate a certain amount of mudiness with warmth, although I am not sure why or where I was conditioned to believe that.
    I suppose its like when I think of "analog warmth" in what I believe to be the common idea people reference, it's like "when I play this back through analog stuff it sounds less precise, like the beginning and ends of notes or certain frequencies are mushed together in some way" vs "digital is very precise and clear". Like, think of a slap bass? maybe the twang / note attack at the start is less pronounced, or like an upright bass player plucking some really well defined notes (sharp attack, clearly stands out) varied between a general less "relaxed" playing style that flows more fluidily between them or blends them a bit.

    I have no idea what I just wrote, lol.
     
  10. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

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    Warmth — A subjective term used to describe sound where the bass and low mid frequencies have depth and where the high frequencies are smooth sounding rather than being aggressive or fatiguing. Warm sounding tube equipment may also exhibit some of the aspects of compression.

    Also,

    General Frequency Response Terms
    • WARM: Emphasis is mid/upper bass.
    • LAID BACK: Recessed upper mids and sometimes treble
    • DARK: Downward sloping from bass to treble
    • BRIGHT: Upward sloping from bass to treble or emphasis in treble
    • LEAN: Lacking in bass
    • THIN: Recessed lower midrange and bass, opposite of BODY.
    • ROLLED (top): Recessed treble
    A good conversation on such subjects:

    http://www.superbestaudiofriends.or...ology-subjective-terms-used-on-superbaf.3400/
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  11. woodj

    woodj Super Member

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    Basically means nothing.
     

     

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  12. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

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    Yes and a 300B SET sounds the same as a Mosfet? Both have their faults and benefits but they clearly sound different. One term created by someone to describe part of this difference is warm. The term seemed to stick and is used by many when trying to share their listening experience. Yes, it is also an over-used subjective term that by itself does not adequately describe a sound, but we all know it in general when we hear it.
     
    Last edited: May 8, 2018
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  13. cgutz

    cgutz AK Member

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    I use "warm" in contrast to "fatiguing" - physics of the sound aside, to me a warm sound can be detailed, but without any harshness. I have had some very detailed systems that get tiring to listen to after a time. IMHO.
     
  14. quiet

    quiet AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Loose and woolly. Lacking detail and dynamics.
     
  15. triode17

    triode17 Super Member

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    I agree with you on this and would like to expand it. I built a tube buffer that had a volume and a gain control, so you could add 'warmth' using as much gain as you'd like but be able to turn down the overall volume. It sounded fine, adding 'warmth' where needed. Yet when I did a frequency sweep, it read perfectly flat.
    So I brought it into my recording studio and played it through the console, which has semi-parametric EQs. Then I swept the EQ until I found the 'warmth' freq. Turns out to be about 300Hz. This showed me there is a dynamic relationship between the tubes and the music.
     
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  16. stoutblock

    stoutblock If it sounds good, it is good... Subscriber

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    Very informative. Thanks! I have also found you can have a “warm” sounding system and still have clear and detailed highs. Warm does not mean you destroy the high frequencies. It is upper bass and lower midrange that seem the most effected.
     
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  17. sqlsavior

    sqlsavior AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    For most users of the term, I believe it means the opposite of "too damn bright".
     
  18. triode17

    triode17 Super Member

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    That's right.
     
  19. Superampman

    Superampman AK Member Subscriber

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    Simple. Does it make you gag?

    High tail it outa there pronto!
     
  20. Katalyst

    Katalyst AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    The opposite of a klipsch heresy?
     
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