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Glossary of audio terms and definitions

Sound is as complex as science and at Harman Kardon we take a scientific approach to creating our products to ensure the sound you hear is just as the artist intended it to be heard.

The terminology used to describe sound and its reproduction reflects that complexity, which is why we have compiled a short glossary of key audio terms, to help demystify the language that surrounds sound creation.

Acoustics : The qualities or characteristics of a room, auditorium etc., that determine the audibility or fidelity of sounds in it

Anechoic : Without an echo

Anechoic chamber : A room used for acoustical measurements where its design suppresses internal sound reflections

Bass : Low in pitch, the lowest range of audible frequencies

Beaming : Sound being emitted with a small sold angle. This sound is more acute as frequency increases

Boomy : An excessive bass response with various peaks in it

Bright : Too much upper frequency energy

Coherence : How well integrated the sound of the system is

Diffraction : A change in the direction of sound energy. Dispersion caused by a boundary, such as the edge of a reflective or absorptive surface

Distortion : Anything that alters the musical signal

Dynamic range : The range between the loudest and softest sounds that are in a piece of music, or that can be reproduced by a piece of audio equipment without any distortion

Extension : How extended a range of frequencies the device can reproduce accurately

Fidelity : How faithful the sound quality is to the original

Free field : An environment where a sound wave may disseminate in all directions without obstructions or reflections. An anechoic room produces this environment in controlled conditions

Frequency : The measure of rapidity of alterations of a periodic signal, expressed in cycles per second / Hz

Frequency response : The changes in the sensitivity of a circuit, device, or room with frequency

Hertz : The unit of frequency, abbreviated to Hz

Imaging : A good stereo system can provide a stereo image that has width, depth and height

KHz : 1,000 Hz

Reflection : The reflection of sound from one surface, which changes the direction of the sound wave

Sound : The sensation produced by stimulation of hearing organs by vibrations transmitted through the air or other medium

Soundstage : A stereo image that replicates the original performance

Spectrum : The distribution of energy of a signal with frequency

Timbre : The quality if sound that distinguishes it from other sounds of the same pitch and volume / the distinctive tone of instrument or singing voice

Tonal : Audible sound capable of stimulating an auditory sensation having pitch

Tone : Quality or character of sound

Transparency : The more “transparent” a sound, the clearer the auditory picture

Treble : The higher frequencies of the audible spectrum

Warmth : In terms of frequency, generally considered to be the range from 150Hz – 400Hz

Watt : Unit to measure electrical or acoustical power

Wave : A regular variation of an electrical signal or acoustical pressure

Wavelength : The distance a sound wave takes to travel to complete one cycle, the distance between one peak of a sine wave and the next corresponding peak