Spectral Identification

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Well, as it appears to me, there are no rules for communicating about audio qualities right now, something that is essential for a functional language to work. We have a whole truck-load of words, all of which mean different things to everyone. Tower of Babel. A lot of these words have been invented, I think, by the audio press. Imagine making up language for what you think you heard over the differences in audio qualities between normal and "special" AC power cords or different wood that you laid your speaker cables next to. Honest. I have seen this and much more.

I'm going to post the 10-word vocabulary I have been teaching here at Bose. "your rules" hit me funny, like it's my ball and you have to play this way or forget it. It's not like this is the script carved on the holy tablets by God, or whatnot. It's just an attempt, a proposal, for any rule where there really aren't any. I think that if we can at least agree on 10 words, it's a start. Actually, these words are a "middle man" to what we really need to do: Hear, listen (the combined activity of taking in audio information, thinking and concluding) and identify in real engineering terms. Like, for instance, a "nasal" quality is heard, the thought process says "aha, too much level in the 1KHz octave" and then you can do something about it, like reach for the 1KHz part of an equalizer and make it sound normal. The words describe familiar qualities we are all familiar with, many having to do with our knowledge of how normal human speech sounds.

But, for this discussion, here are the 10 words, which describe a 1 octave excess level in the stated center of that octave (these are all "ISO standard center frequencies"). These can be used anywhere but hopefully for better communication about qualities about our system, for better or for worse:

woofy 31Hz octavedeep bass
boomy 62 Hz octavebass
punchy 125 Hz octavemid bass
chesty 250 Hz octaveupper bass
honky 500 Hz octavelow midrange
nasal 1,000 Hz octavemidrange
quacky 2,000 Hz octaveupper mid-range
shrill 4,000 Hz octave high midrange (the most annoying octave to be accented)
spitty 8,000 Hz octavehigh frequency Cliff demonstrates "Spitty"
air 16,000 Hz octavevery high frequency

From Kyle-at-Bose

Here are some cuts from Cliff's Spectral Identification disc. Personally, there have been a few key people here at Bose who have helped broaden my listening capabilities by teaching me how and what to listen to. Cliff is definitely one of those persons who have helped me tune my senses. I hope these tracks are as helpful to you as they were to me. In addition, also consider the audio ear training course from Dave Moulton called " Golden Ears. Although it's much more catered to the intricacies of recording music, it's very helpful in general (By the way it’s a lengthy 8 discs I think). Here goes with Cliff’s recordings...

Play Now (double-click a track to play it) Download

  1. All files below in one file (15,507 KB, zip)
  2. Male voice 12dB boost, all 10 octaves, rapid play (1,070 KB, mp3)
  3. Male voice 12dB boost, all 10 octaves, rapid play, general descriptors (354 KB, mp3)
  4. Male voice 12dB boost, all 10 octaves, rapid play, frequencies called out (375 KB, mp3)
  5. Female voice comparison original then 12dB boost, all 10 octaves (2,070 KB, mp3)
  6. Female voice 12dB boost, rapid play, all 10 octaves (521 KB, mp3)
  7. Pop synth tune 12dB boost, 10 octaves (3,231 KB, mp3)
  8. Pop synth tune 12dB boost, 10 octaves, rapid play (1,073 KB, mp3)
  9. Orchestral 12dB boost, 10 octaves (3,371 KB, mp3)
  10. Orchestral, 12dB boost, 10 octaves, rapid play, 1st 4 measures (1,180 KB, mp3)

Or download Bose_ListeningReference.exe (91 megabytes)