Beef Up Your Audio Terminology Knowledge

Last Edited: March 29, 2017 | Published: March 29, 2017 by



Beef Up Your Audio Terminology Knowledge

You may see us talk about all different types of speaker equipment, but if you don’t know the proper audio terminology and what each word means, then our guides may not be as helpful as we hope. That’s why today I have compiled a list of some of the most common audio terminology out there and what each of it means. My hope is you can take this list and learn more about the speakers you are shopping for so you can make the right decision for your audio needs.

Sound Descriptions

  • Highs:1300Hz and above – cymbals, high notes etc.
  • Mids:160-1300Hz – vocals – snar 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 of left/right back/front
  • Reference Quality: Being of little to no coloration – you are hearing what is from the source, not the components
  • Coloration:When a component adds its own sound. Something you can hear no matter what is played.
  • Warm: This can be seen as a coloration, or a boost in the mid-range, softening the highs a bit.
  • Cold: Less musical sounding, sometimes too analytical and with out emotion, but can reference quality.
  • Natural: No part of the audio spectrum sticks out above the rest and no coloration of sound.
  • Coherent: You can’t hear the tweeter versus the woofer – the sound from the speaker blends well.

Audio Components

  • Amplifier:This takes the low volume from the pre-amp and increase the power to drive the speakers.
  • Solid State Amplifier:Does not use tubes to amplify the sound.  Typically associated with a clean, cold, sound.
  • Tube Amplifier:Uses tubes to amplify the audio signal.  Typically associated with a warmer sound.
  • Integrated Amplifier:Both the amplifier and pre-amp in one box.  Several inputs and volume control.
  • Watts:The power rating of the amplifier.
  • Pre-Amplifier:Has an input selector and volume control.
  • Phono Stage/Amplifier:Takes the very low volume audio signal from a cartridge and amplifies it a little bit more.
  • Interconnect:Cables to connect the pre-amplifier to amplifier.  Or CD Player to Pre-Amplifier, Connecting Cables.
  • 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:Mid and Low woofers produce the mid to low range frequencies in the speaker.
  • SubWoofer:Produces the very low frequencies.  The Rumbling and butt shaking lows.
  • 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:Something that divides the 20Hz-20kHz audio signal and send the divided parts to tweeter and woofers.
  • 2-Way Speaker:A speaker with 1 crossover point. Easier to produces a coherent image.
  • 3-Way Speaker:A speaker with 2 crossover points.  If not done well can cause an incoherent image.
  • Ported Box:A speaker cabinet with a hole in it to let out lower frequencies.
  • Closed Box:A speaker cabinet with no holes in it.
  • 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 a ear level.
  • Bookshelf or Stand Mount Speaker:A speaker meant to be placed on a stand or shelf to be at ear level.
  • Music Server – Media Server:A digital storage deceive for digital music files.  A connivance.
  • Receiver: Like an integrated amplifier, but can do video processing as well as audio.
  • Home Theater in a Box:Typically an amplifier, DVD/Blu-ray player, and speakers, all in one box.


As you can see, there are a ton of different audio terminology out there that you need to know before you start shopping for new speakers. However, by simply understanding this list, you will be able to easily understand what you are buying and how it will impact the audio quality on your system, whatever it may be.

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