What defines a warm sound?

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

  1. ev13wt

    ev13wt Super Member

    Warmth can mean anything from nostalgia to frequency response, distortion and analog things like tape hiss or records pops and ticks.

    I'd rather use those term instead.
     

     

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  2. ev13wt

    ev13wt Super Member

    Oh, and some people swap gear instead of using an eq or dsp.

    I guess that's why the terms are used. A warm amp and a bright speaker would balance out.

    Unless the warm amp can't do high frequencies.
     
  3. BOUXY

    BOUXY Super Member

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    Again basically means NADA!
    People will gravitate to the sounds they like each and everytime be it whatever it is called just the way it is period:)
     
  4. Audiovet

    Audiovet Well-Known Member

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    'Warm' and 'rich' often appear in the same context. "Very musical' also seems to be a similar description. (The latter contradictory, as shall be seen!)

    Apart from the above descriptions, this sensation is mostly associated with the right degree of added second harmonic products and to a lesser extent other even-order harmonics. (Second harmonic products are everything an octave higher. Addition of these are not dissonant, in fact in many orchestral pieces, an added few percent of everything an octave higher will make the music sound slightly 'fuller', the same sensation described as 'warmer'.) Not all 'distortion', as in added products not present in the input, is dissonant! Some, as that discussed, can make the music sound 'better'!

    The sensation is typical of S.E.T. amplifiers, where mostly audible amounts of second and other even harmonics are present. (Not to ignite a type distinction debate here; this is simply borne out by spectrum analyses.) In hearing experiments using so-called 'cold' semi-conductor amplifiers, a particular pre-circuit was added making the amount of such harmonics adjustable. This demonstrated the above explanation when used with a small audience.
     
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  5. stoutblock

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

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    So I am ordering a new car and I want it to be “blue” because I like “blue”. So “blue” is a certain spectrum of light no matter what it is called but how do I communicate that on the order form without using a term that is commonly recognized? Do I just say it is the color I like? No, we use more descriptive terms. Like using the term “warm” to describe a sound. It may, or may not be a sound that we like but it is a “warm” sound. “Warm” is what it is period.
     
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  6. E-Stat

    E-Stat Addicted Member

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    Interesting responses. I've always considered that to be strictly a function of tonal balance exhibiting boosted response in the upper bass/lower midrange. The opposite of "lean".
     
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  7. Superampman

    Superampman AK Member Subscriber

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    Analogue vs digital has nothing to do with tonal presentation whatsoever. The op is asking us to do his hearing for him. Anybody in Denmark here? How's the air over there?

    I can tell you ime a good digital presentation is more analogue than analogue. If otoh you want a shitty early example of digital with all the bugs still in it then get one and tell us how it sounds.
    Wrong. You can tell him you want the color of the sky, the ocean, the base color of AK's site etc., take your pick. Just like you can tell an audio salesman you want bloated mid frequency response, right to the exact frequency deviation you prefer. He'll respond "oh, you mean you want a 'warm' sound". You'll say "wut"? in your apparent ignorance and he'll inform you 'warm' is the designated audio JARGON used to describe what makes me gag.:)
     
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  8. stoutblock

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

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    Sounds like you agree that “warm” has an agreed to audio condition. As for myself, I like what I like and try not to sweat the correct terms to use. Where I live the sky is mostly gray, the ocean is green and one would need to know where to access AK to know the background color. It is easier to just say “blue” because it is understood without discription. Just like it is easier to just say “warm” because it is undertood by most in audio.
     
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  9. Portkula

    Portkula Active Member

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    Indecent, evidently audible non-linear distortions (mostly 2-nd and 3-rd harmonics) (electrically and/or acoustically inserted) in equipment.

    Some listeners may qualify “warm” a sound of equipment heavily “rolling-off” and/or "cutting" (electrically and/or acoustically) the high frequencies band in the signal. Thus, a defective sound equipment too.

    High quality amplifying equipment inserts NO audible “sound” of its own. No “warm”, no “cold”, no “roaring”, no “screaming” etc. etc. etc. …
    But clearly and transparently treated signal.
     
  10. triode17

    triode17 Well-Known Member

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    The term Warm may also be a bit of nostalgia from the old tube days. The HiFi's of the day truly got warm to the touch. The console systems, radios all were warm. All I know is I can't seriously listen to SS anymore, all the instruments/vocals sound like they're all at the front of the stage, no depth there.
    No "there -there."
     
  11. fredgarvin

    fredgarvin AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    As usually happens in threads, the answer comes on the first page. After that it goes hither and yon.

    I always refer to the Stereophile glossary

    https://www.stereophile.com/content/sounds-audio-glossary-glossary
     
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  12. louisjames

    louisjames The "real" Louis James Subscriber

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    and not to muddy the mix, no pun intended, the ears come into play. Specifically, age, condition, etc. A guy at work got an implant and was astounded at the difference. All of a sudden his very expensive and mostly hated stereo became clear, articulate, full and engaging and the best sounding ever. And on a related note - a number of pals have bought modern tube gear because they think it will result in a warm "tube" sound. Then they complain that it doesn't sound "tubish" at all. I try and explain that for the most part modern tube gear sounds like modern equipment and not like the tube gear they remember from back in the day. Usually to no avail. If it's tubes is must be "warm"! Um, OK. Whatever. :)
     
  13. Dave B.

    Dave B. AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Johnny Mathis' Greatest Hits had a very "warm" sound when played on my high school girlfriend's parents' Sears console stereo as we made out on the floor in front of it.

    Dave
     
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  14. Audiovet

    Audiovet Well-Known Member

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    Perhaps further elucidation to my post #24.

    As said second harmonic products generated are mostly described as warm, musical or similar. 3rd harmonic products are sonically an octave and a fifth higher. Rather a dull but inoffensive sound, neither very pleasant nor dissonant. It has been reported to give extra edge to string instruments and brass. (These tests were done under research conditions but the articals I read were some 30 years ago; origin now long-gone.)

    Any frequency non-linearity added to an amplifier - loudness (the proper type!), bass and treble control contours - will naturally combine to perhaps also exhibit sensations of 'musicality'. Then perhaps a contentious point: Valve sound is rather a blast from the past, more than evidenced in equipment of recent decades - unless those are of poor design to begin with. Any half-decent present valve design will/should not contain any audible distortion of any kind.
     
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  15. Steven Tate

    Steven Tate AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    If you play electric guitars, you know of the Gibson vs. Fender wars. Gibsons, with their dual coil pickups are "warm" sounding and Fenders, with their single coil pickups are "cold sounding" They play the same exact notes, but they sound nothing alike. And one isn't better than the other. In a particular song or in particular hands, one might sound better. I wouldn't care to hear Jimi Hendrix on a Les Paul and I wouldn't care to hear Jimmy Page on a Strat. But I would listen to either one on their instrument of choice any time. Translating this to audio amps, Marantz, for example, has a reputation for having a warm sound. I don't think it's a lack of high frequencies because their published response graphs show a fairly flat response. But something about the circuit design keeps the highs from overpowering. Other amps might have more of a cutting, Stratocaster kind of sound. If I had both amps, I would play my classic rock on the Marantz and my classical on the other amp. Clear as mud, right?
     
  16. DaveVoorhis

    DaveVoorhis Super Member

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    This is a bit different from warm vs cold sounding amps. Different guitars produce differing timbres due to emitting different waveform shapes, but different amps should emit the same waveform; not doing so means significant distortion.
     
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  17. Steven Tate

    Steven Tate AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    But an audio signal containing music is a very complex waveform. It’s likely that no two amps exactly match their outputs given the same input signal. Every component affects the signal in some way, so variability in design and component selection should affect the sound. Yes, if you want to say the output is thus distorted, I guess that would be technically correct. I prefer to think of the signal as processed, and there are an infinite number of ways to process the signal and have an acceptable result. Also an infinite number of ways to process the signal and have an unacceptable result. Buried in that variability is the “nature” of the amp — “warm”, “flat”, “edgy”, etc. I’m not saying this is the “correct” viewpoint. It’s just the way I interpret audio devices that sound different with the same program input.
     
  18. Superampman

    Superampman AK Member Subscriber

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    So you couldn't use eq to make a Gibson sound like a Fender and vise versa?
     
  19. UncleBingo

    UncleBingo AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Joke's on you. Page did scads of the early Zeppelin studio stuff using a Telecaster. There is footage of Jimi Hendrix playing a Gibson Flying V and guess what? He sounds like himself.
    Here: (Full interview) https://www.guitarworld.com/magazin...in-albums-gibson-and-harmony-guitars-and-more

    A debate has raged for many years on what electric guitars were used on the first album.

    It’s hard for people to believe, but I just used my Fender Telecaster for the entire album, except for one track. Somebody was trying to sell me a Gibson Flying V at the time. I don’t what made them think I could afford it, because I clearly couldn’t, but I asked them if I could just try it out. I brought it into Olympic and used it on “You Shook Me.” With those big humbuckers, it was so powerful you can hear it breaking up the amp in the middle of the song. I could’ve tidied it up, but I really liked hearing the amp really struggle to get the sound out. It’s really fighting through the electronics to get out of that speaker. I’m not sure what happened to the guitar. It might’ve found its way to Keith Richards or something, but I really don’t know.
     
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  20. KrisM

    KrisM Lunatic Member

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    Um, there's video out there of Hendrix playing a Les Paul, and Page seemed to be open to playing almost anything, including Strats.
    I'd kill to hear a straight up blues album with Hendrix playing, or mostly playing, a Lester.
     
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