The Non-Audiophile Guide to 'Audio Speak'
This "Condensed Guide to Audio Vocabulary" put together by Audioreview.com (seemingly now defunct) will serve every Audio Apprentice or aspiring audiophile well. I took the liberties of making some edits.
Highs: 1300Hz and above – cymbals, high notes, etc.
Mids: 160-1300Hz – vocals, snare drum strike, guitar, etc.
Lows: 20-160Hz – drums, low piano notes, bass guitar, etc.
Soundstage/Imaging: How distinct each sound is and where it sounds along a 4-way axis.
Reference-Quality: Being of little to no coloration; you are hearing the source, not the components.
Coloration: When a component adds its own sound.
Warm: A boost in the low and mid-range, softening the highs a bit.
Cold: Less 'musical' sounding, sometimes too analytical and without emotion.
Natural: No part of the audio spectrum sticks out above the rest; no coloration.
Coherent: You can’t hear the tweeter versus the woofer, meaning the sound blends well.
Bright: High-frequencies are over-emphasized. This sound can be exciting but fatiguing.
Neutral: Highs, mids, and lows appear to all be in balance.
PRaT: Pace, rhythm and timing.
Sound Pressure Level (SPL): A logarithmic measure of the effective sound pressure of a sound, measured in decibels (dB).
Dynamic Range (DR): the range of acceptable or possible volumes of sound occurring in the course of a piece of music or a performance.
Amplifier: Takes the low volume from the pre-amp and increases the power to drive the speakers.
Solid State Amplifier: Doesn't use tubes to amplify the signal; a clean, cold sound.
Tube Amplifier: Uses tubes to amplify the audio signal; a warmer sound.
Integrated Amplifier: Both the amplifier and pre-amp in one unit.
Watts: The power rating of the amplifier.
Pre-Amplifier: Has an input selector and volume control.
Phono Stage: Takes the very low signal from a cartridge and amplifies it.
Interconnect: Connecting cables (pre-amplifier to amplifier, CD Player to pre-amp, etc.).
PMP: Portable Music Player; iPod, HiFiMan, etc.
Tweeter: Produces the high frequency sounds in a speaker.
Super Tweeter: Produces super high frequencies. Supposed to help soundstage/imaging.
Woofer: Produces the mid- to low-range frequencies.
Subwoofer: Produces the very low frequencies.
Full Range Driver: Combines the mids and lows into one driver. Sometimes even the highs.
High Sensitivity Speakers: Speakers that can be driven effectively off a low-powered amplifier.
Crossover: Divides the 20Hz-20kHz audio signal and sends it to the tweeters and woofers.
2-Way Speaker: A speaker with 1 crossover point. Easier to produce a coherent image.
3-Way Speaker: A speaker with 2 crossover points.
Ported Box: A speaker cabinet with a hole that lets out lower frequencies.
Closed Box: A speaker cabinet with no holes.
Active Monitor: A reference-quality bookshelf speaker and amplifier combined into one.
Passive Monitor: A reference-quality bookshelf speaker with no amplifier.
Floorstanding Speaker: A speaker that can go right on the floor and be at ear level.
Bookshelf or Stand Mount Speaker: A speaker meant to be placed on a stand or shelf.
Music Server / Media Server: A digital storage deceive for digital music files.
Receiver: Like an integrated amplifier, but does video processing as well.
Home Theater in a Box: Typically an amplifier, DVD/Blu-ray player, and speakers, all in one box.