Are smooth and warm the same thing

Nativebon

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A sound could be clean yet smooth because it sounds natural. On the other hand sound could be described as warm yet may not be smooth.... Not sounding natural.

 
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uzzy

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For me, they are different.

The Sterephile Glossary is usually spot on imo.

FWIW. I think smooth is at the upper end of the spectrum and is the opposite to Harsh.

Warm is lower down in the spectrum and is the opposite of lean/cold.

These adjectives are the only means of describing what we hear to others. It should be possible for people with different tastes, still to describe the music in the same way....But...These descriptions can easily be be influenced by personal preference/perception.

The secret is finding people who give descriptions that match your own perception.
I am with Ceno on this one (if I keep agreeing with him I might have to change my name to Erenoevil) 

It is of course the problem we have trying to describe a sound with words.  We have seen the interpretations are different on a different terms.

Shortly after I got my Art Impressions they changed from a Horn Loaded MDT33 tweeter to the SEAS Crescendo .. Yoda prefers the Crescendo and I prefer the Horn Loaded tweeter as for me I think the Crescendo (which is not hard or cold or lacking in "smoothness" somehow (for me) draws attention to itself.  With the horn loaded tweeter I feel it is better integrated and natural (some may smoother and Yoda will disagree because he loves his and it goes to illustrate how our ears are different).  Anyway to cut a long story short, descriptive terms are open to misinterpretation.

I just wish we all had a reference point, a speaker we all are familiar with and how it sounds and then when reviewing or describing another speaker we can the relate the descriptive terms used if someone says.

For example if they said, "the top end was more detailed than the reference but were a tad more forward in balance.  The mids were detailed but colder than the reference and the bass was less defined and there seemed to be less of it"    If we are familiar with the reference and our view is that it is a cold sounding speaker with a forward top end - then from what the review tells us the speakers being reviewed are likely to be colder and more forward.

Of course at the end of the day the only reference we should use is our own ears.  

 
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bigrod

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Whatever you‚Äôre system sounds like , if you love it , just enjoy the positive stuff.. All systems whatever the cost will have negatives . In 50 years I‚Äôve never heard the ‚Äúperfect‚ÄĚ ¬†sound from Hifi .. You can only achieve that ‚Äúlive‚Ä̬†

I have 2 totally different sounding systems , But both with Cabasse speakers .. They each  fill their sound space effortlessly in different ways , but both are so enjoyable to listen to ..

 
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MartinC

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No, we don't. What we need to describe is what we hear in the music. Can you hear the full texture and impact of the note? Can you hear the opening strike? Can you hear the decay? Is the tone correct? On one system I heard, it sounded like Paul Simonon had taken too much weed before he played on the Clash' 1st album. In reality, however, I know that his drug of choice was cocaine.

Subjective descriptions of sound - warm, smooth, detailed, cold, dark, thin etc, etc - are purely academic and mean different things to each of us. Tell me what it does to the music. 
I really don't see your point at all here, with warm and smooth being no more subjective than any of the terms you chose to use yourself.

For me warm and bright (distinct from smooth) are actually the two most useful terms for anyone to use when describing a system in terms of potentially trying to be able to offer suggestions of changes to make to improve things. How useful such terms are does of course depend on the extent to which there is a shared understanding of what the terms mean which actually makes this a helpful discussion  :) .

 

Bokke

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I know that this is a very stupid question coming from someone who has been in the hobby for sometime now. But my experiences with 2 tube amps has really left me confused. So confused that I even don't know how to put it across :D

1. I've been through class D ( a devialet D-premier long time back which sounded detailed and powerful but lean)

2. Then i went to a class AB integrated amp ( a parasound halo integrated, which is class AB with a class A bias for the first 8W , this sounded mellow, but not sweet. I felt there was some treble roll of to avoid the bite in the treble, there by making it me )

3.  Subsequently I switched for a pre+ power combination of a T+A preamp (P1260R ) and a vintage class A krell KSA100, both bought used. This combination sounded great with massive bass slam, enough details and a sweet treble. I was very happy with this combination. Thought I'd take the krelll to my grave. But the below modest tubed amp, just blew the krell away.

4. I had this terrible itch to try tubes, and at that time, I was sailing in the USA. So I bought the first 220V switchable mono blocks I could find. These were some cheap TAD-1000 mono blocks ( originated as some cheap  Chinese company tube amps, imported into the USA by Mr. Paul Gryzbek, and fettled to improve the cheap design and components within a fixed price bracket . These just blew the krell in all aspects, when running on KT-88 tubes and outputting 100 watts each. The details was on par with the krell, and sounded exactly the same from 100hz and upwards, but had better bass slam below 100hz. And these sounded very much like SS amps to my ears. Though they did sound inoffensive in the treble even at high volumes. So I sold the krell to fund my next purchase. But I have still retained the TAD amps as they are great VFM amps for the 1800 usd I paid for them. 

5. Then I got a pair of LM 503PA mono blocks running 845 output tubes fed by 300B tubes. These are at a different level when it comes to details, and just not compared to my previous amps, they also hands down beat the kinki studio integrated I recently heard on the end of a B&W 802 D3, and a macintosh 8900 I've heard at the end of a B&W nautilus 803. Despite all the details, they have immense bass slam and pace. But as put across by my friends who had a listen a few days back, they always sound smooth, despite being fast and  ultra detailed with immense bass slam. 

So iam now confused what this warmth is , as referred to in various posts. Is sounding smooth equal to sounding warm. I have a pair of qacoustics concept 40 speakers, which I love for long listening sessions, they are smooth too, but laid back in my opinion as the bass is a little slow. And people refer to qacoustics as being warm sounding. So iam really confused interpreting, if slow bass is warmth or smoothness is warmth :)
having only read your post and nothing more

my way of using the words warm and smooth

Warm: emphasis or bias towards bass 

smooth: lack of fizz in the treble region - the best example was the difference between roksan kandy hf and hegel - the hegel had as much just smoother sounding or less distorted 

 
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JANDL100

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Nah, you're all wrong. 

Smooth is about resolution, or the lack of it if something sounds smooth. 

Warm is about tonality, with increasing warmth being a reduction in treble or an increase in lower frequencies. 

I bet you're all glad that I came along to sort this out.  :p

 

JANDL100

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I recall a Wammer suggested he came along to my place to let me dem a piece of gear before deciding whether to buy. 

We listened to my gear to start with. It was fairly obvious that he didn't like it that much. 

"You'll love my piece of gear, Jerry, it's really smooth." 

I hated it. It was sooo boring. 

All rather embarrassing, really, he'd driven about a hundred miles to bring it to me. 

 
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lydhenry

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I agree.

Nah, you're all wrong. 

Smooth is about resolution, or the lack of it if something sounds smooth. 

Warm is about tonality, with increasing warmth being a reduction in treble or an increase in lower frequencies. 

I bet you're all glad that I came along to sort this out.  :p
 
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wackjob

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Nah, you're all wrong. 

Smooth is about resolution, or the lack of it if something sounds smooth. 

Warm is about tonality, with increasing warmth being a reduction in treble or an increase in lower frequencies. 

I bet you're all glad that I came along to sort this out.  :p
I can go along with this. If something is smooth and lacking resolution then it must have some form of distortion hiding the fine details ?

 
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bigrod

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To me smooth is even handedness across all frequencies with no gaps  . The music caresses you …

 
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savvypaul

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I really don't see your point at all here, with warm and smooth being no more subjective than any of the terms you chose to use yourself.

For me warm and bright (distinct from smooth) are actually the two most useful terms for anyone to use when describing a system in terms of potentially trying to be able to offer suggestions of changes to make to improve things. How useful such terms are does of course depend on the extent to which there is a shared understanding of what the terms mean which actually makes this a helpful discussion  :) .
You might not see my point, but you're helping to prove it (as are most of the posts on this thread).

Your idea of bright might be my idea of neutral. My idea of dark might be your idea of warm. However, if we describe what is happening with the music then we can be a little more precise and meaningful when it comes to trying to explain ourselves. 

If you tell me that the system sounds too warm, I don't know what your reference is for that compared to mine. It's personal preference. But, if you tell me that Paul Simonon's bass line sounds slow or lost or notes are merging into one, then I have a much better idea of what you mean (and not just about frequency response).

Listening to the music will tell us all we need to know about the system. Describing what we hear when we listen to the music will be more useful to others than merely describing the sound.

 
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MartinC

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Your idea of bright might be my idea of neutral. My idea of dark might be your idea of warm. However, if we describe what is happening with the music then we can be a little more precise and meaningful when it comes to trying to explain ourselves. 

f you tell me that the system sounds too warm, I don't know what your reference is for that compared to mine. It's personal preference. But, if you tell me that Paul Simonon's bass line sounds slow or lost or notes are merging into one, then I have a much better idea of what you mean (and not just about frequency response).

Listening to the music will tell us all we need to know about the system. Describing what we hear when we listen to the music will be more useful to others than merely describing the sound.
For me the use of the term warm is actually principally as a relative rather than an absolute term. If someone says they find a system/component too warm for them then this is helpful for others to suggest changes, based on their own experiences. We could get into absolute definitions based on measured data but I generally choose not to as they aren't generally helpful. 

Where I don't agree is that a description of a perception of music is somehow more universal. Frankly that all gets wildly more vague/unclear than what to me is a relatively simple term like warm.

In case it's helps I'd draw an analogy of terms like warm to people defining what say red and blue mean in relation to discussing art. Both are useful.

 
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JANDL100

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If you tell me that the system sounds too warm, I don't know what your reference is for that compared to mine. It's personal preference. But, if you tell me that Paul Simonon's bass line sounds slow or lost or notes are merging into one, then I have a much better idea of what you mean (and not just about frequency response).
That approach isn't at all universal, it's very dependent on musical taste. 

Who the hell is Paul Simonon? I've never heard of him or his music. So your descriptives would mean nothing at all to me. At least warm / smooth allows me some sort of idea. 

 
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savvypaul

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For me the use of the term warm is actually principally as a relative rather than an absolute term. If someone says they find a system/component too warm for them then this is helpful for others to suggest changes, based on their own experiences. We could get into absolute definitions based on measured data but I generally choose not to as they aren't generally helpful. 

Where I don't agree is that a description of a perception of music is somehow more universal. Frankly that all gets wildly more vague/unclear than what to me is a relatively simple term like warm.

In case it's helps I'd draw an analogy of terms like warm to people defining what say red and blue mean in relation to discussing art. Both are useful.
I'm all for sharing experiences but I never make recommendations to others about what they should buy. I stay off those threads, simply because the answers are always the same  - everyone telling the OP they should buy what they've already bought, themselves.

Describing what is happening in the music is more insightful, IME, because it talks of more than just frequency response. For example, there are many slimline ported floorstanding speakers that have had their crossover engineered to give a fairly even frequency response (as loudspeakers go), but they are dynamically dull as dishwater. 

If someone tells me that they found a system to be too warm, for example, I take it for what it is  - too warm for them. But that doesn't mean much for me 

 

savvypaul

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That approach isn't at all universal, it's very dependent on musical taste. 

Who the hell is Paul Simonon? I've never heard of him or his music. So your descriptives would mean nothing at all to me. At least warm / smooth allows me some sort of idea. 
Simonon was the bassist with The Clash, but you should choose a recording that you know well, yourself, Jerry. 

I know what Simonon's bass playing should sound like on Jimmy Jazz, for example, from the London Calling album. Given that very few people, even on this one thread, can seem to agree on what terms like warm and smooth actually mean, is it more helpful for me to describe a system as warm or is it more helpful for me to describe how Simonon's bass sounds compared to how I know it should sound?

 

steve 57

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Of course at the end of the day the only reference we should use is our own ears.  
 I think I can see where your coming from.. but that does not mean anything really 

I'm pretty sure a good sound in music reproduction term's,  is a good sound to most of us, when we hear the same thing.

But in the confines of our own listening room It's a different.. most systems are full of flaws, and still get described by their  owners as being  realistic or whatever ?

My experence is that you need to know how/ if someone hears flaws before you can trust their written opinions..

 

MartinC

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I'm all for sharing experiences but I never make recommendations to others about what they should buy. I stay off those threads, simply because the answers are always the same  - everyone telling the OP they should buy what they've already bought, themselves.
Fair enough but I'd suggest that the majority hear like to be able to discuss the sound of systems and so a shared vocabulary to do so it helpful. As it is for people lookng to buy new equipment and having discssions with dealers.

The alternative is people simply saying I ike A but not B etc. With enough shared experience you can get to the same point but it's much harder. I'd argue that descriptive terms came into existance for exacly this reason actually.

For the record I never tell anyone what to buy either but will sometime suggest options to be considered but with listening to them being the only way to really tell if they're right for anyone.

Describing what is happening in the music is more insightful, IME, because it talks of more than just frequency response. For example, there are many slimline ported floorstanding speakers that have had their crossover engineered to give a fairly even frequency response (as loudspeakers go), but they are dynamically dull as dishwater. 
That is no different to saying something is warm. You're just referring to a different aspect of the sound reproduction. Both are useful.

If someone tells me that they found a system to be too warm, for example, I take it for what it is  - too warm for them. 
Agreed. But this doesn't make the observation useless for the reasons discussed above.

Viewing this thread as a whole it's interesting to see that the understanding of the term warm is actually pretty universal but smooth is much less clear.

 
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steve 57

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Warm or smooth are words to describe the particular music bring played surely?

in hi fi, if warm is like a light bulb.. then its yellow coloured against natural light.

If that relates to music then there's colouration ? That shouldn't be there

Smooth.. for me thats a little more difficult to describe, but most recorded music is not smooth.

music, if reproduced accurately, is fast with sharp leading edges 

Listen to a live drum and compare it to most low efficiency speakers, the speakers are a joke..

Then listen to that recorded drum on speakers that can reproduce those drum sticks as they crack on the skin, and reproduce the tone and decay...  smooth ?

It's the sharp leading edges that are the weak point with most hifi systems.

 
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JANDL100

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For how I understand the term smooth, it's definitely not what I want from my music reproduction system. 

Others here seem to regard smooth as their ideal goal. 

So yes, smooth would seem to mean diametrically opposite things to quite a few of us here. 

Although my previously described visitor wanted added smoothness in my system - so maybe we are just seeking different presentations. 

 
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