How do you compare speakers? How do describe the difference in receivers? How do you accurately portray the sound of any turntable or audio device? This is a challenge that has confronted myself and my customers since opening the store. Finding the right adjectives and descriptors is a difficult challenge, but one that can greatly help give clarity and understanding to whomever you are talking to. I have often found we use a lot of the same terms and phrases to describe sound, and they are typically rather boring and lacking in detail.

“This sounds better.”

“That sounds bad.”

“It sounds right.”

These are the phrases commonly used and that give hardly any detail of what is truly meant. To combat this issue I recently purchased some Chalk Board sticker/wallpaper stuff. I then spent time coming up with some words that I believe help us characterize sound quality. Now if anyone is struggling to explain what they hear or want to hear they can just look over at my wall and see some helpful hints.

Sound Adjectives and Descriptive Words


It can really help allow people to explain what they are hearing in a speaker, cartridge, amplifier or other piece of equipment. Instead of “I don’t like the sound of it.” they can now say “That cartridge sounded sort of hollow, and toneless. Do you have one that happens to be more accurate and clear?” Or maybe they say: “This receiver sounds incredibly honeyed and velvety which is pleasant to listen to, but I was hoping for something more accurate and forward sounding.”

What adjectives do you like to use for describe sound? How would you describe the current audio setup you either have or you want to have?

Personally my setup at home has a “pure, appealing, and melodic sound with just a little honey and smokiness.”

Funny how describing sound is almost like trying to describe a wine.


Other adjectives I can think of: full-bodied, neutral, breathy, airy, sounds-like-its-underwater, plain, open, condensed, compacted, compressed, buttery, flowy.