Basic concepts for assessing sound quality

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For a long time, enjoying and learning, setting up sound for hi-fi has been an indispensable passion of music enthusiasts. But to accurately evaluate the sound quality of a hi-fi system, a headset, I think we need to understand some basic concepts about sound. We invite you to consult and discuss the following article.


– Timbre is the “color” of the sound; for me, it is of paramount importance because it directly affects our emotions and how the music emitted from the device enters our ears and brain. Not every expensive set or good equipment will produce a good timbre; the timbre is heavily influenced by external conditions such as power sources and rooms. That is just a symbolic concept, but we can partly imagine its sound quality when hearing a certain sound. The warmer the timbre, the softer and softer the sound, in contrast to the cold timbre, which results in a dry, hard sound. The more soft materials in the room, such as pillows, blankets, curtains, soft mosquito nets, carpets, acoustics. The sound will be smooth and warm because the energy and intensity of the high band are sucked away, sometimes sucked out of a clean, good, and connected power source separate line for the device socket will give a more attractive and flexible timbre. In contrast, a room with many smooth, shiny surfaces, such as cement tile floors, painted walls, and ceilings that are too low, for example, the sound will be loud, harsh, and if the power source is not good, the sound will be sharp, dry, and hard.

– Timbre is also a fundamental factor to help distinguish between musical instruments or human voices. With each note, we can distinguish whether it’s a guitar or a flute, a drum. From a physical perspective, different timbres will have different harmonic structures and components, helping listeners feel the main identify the sound of each instrument.


– Imaging is the layer created by musical instruments with some arrangement according to the spatial depth of the harmony (stage or studio). A good hi-fi or headset needs to reproduce the recording space at a level from relative to good. For example, when we listen to Nelson Riddle’s symphony singing with Linda Ronstadt, we must see the position of the singer, the position of the orchestra, the parts, the class of the instrument, the order of the front and back, the horizontal and vertical arrangement of the instruments ingredients above.

Soundstage is the width of the sound space. The sound field gives the impression of reverberation, narrow widths, highs and lows, and the distributed texture of the concert hall.

– These two factors are very important to determine the “real” of the sound. The soundstage and the sound field are often very diverse due to the influence of the frequency response of the amplifiers as well as the acoustic characteristics of the listening room or speaker position. The same hi-fi system but arranged in two different rooms with different installation structures will also create different soundstages and sound fields, making the sound perception somewhat change.

Tone Density:

– Also known as “thickness,” fullness and juiciness of the sound. I call it tone density. That depends on the listener’s perception of the sound. We can feel the “thickness” in the cello bass, the sound of brass or the percussion echo, the strong and weak intensity when the drummers beat hi-hat, snare. This factor depends greatly on the power supply to the system, the power of the amplifier with the speakers or headphones, and the mid and low-frequency response of the devices used, the crossover circuit design in the speakers or headphones (especially those that use a lot of balanced armature drivers). That is also an important factor determining the fidelity and musicality of the sound.


– This is also an important factor that is easy to recognize. A system with good clarity will clearly show the smallest details in the music clearly and clearly; it also makes the sound softer and easier to listen to. Transparency depends on reproducing the mid-, mid-high and treble frequencies in the frequency response, phase response (phase response of amplifiers and speakers). Devices that are concerned with audio clarity include speakers, amps, and wirings such as interconnects and speaker cables (these two need to be good, technically good). Clarity has nothing to do with light or dark, thick or thin, guys. In a nutshell, you sit indoors and look outside through a glass; you see everything out there, the colors are glittering, the sun is shining, the trees are the colors of the trees, the flowers are the flowers, the pets are. If the color is a pet, the glass is genuine, or I call its clarity high and vice versa.


– The liveliness of the sound depends on the quality of the equipment set up in the staging. Speaking from my experience, if the device can produce pure, clear, powerful sound. It will be more likely to deliver highly vivid sound quality. You can see it in an old recording on youtube, but you can hear the drums hit the drums; the bass guitar is clear every note, and the clarity is very high, strong, not inexperienced, or lacking in power.

Sound spatial stability:

This factor keeps the soundstage and the image unchanged, whether the music is at high or slow speeds. Usually, the sound will have a position between the two speakers; if this stability is not uniform, we will feel that the sound position is disturbed, no longer focused. The quality of the equipment in the system, the quality of the speakers/headphones, the placement of the speakers, the tightness of the earpads, and the room’s structure are vital factors that greatly affect the stability of the sound.

Detail of the sound:

– The more accurate the sound reproduction, the higher the level of detail of the sound. As we can see, a high-quality hi-fi system can reproduce and express even the slightest difference in the sound of the instruments in the music.

Signal response speed (impulse response and impact):

– This is the ability to separate the before and after notes in a piece of music definitively and accurately. This factor is evident in the bass sounds in the song. The speed and transient response depend greatly on the speaker, a good set of speakers will have a clear and decisive bass, different from the average quality speakers with heavy and sluggish bass, bass like punching me in the face.

Sound Contrast and Wide Range:

– Volume contrast level is the difference between the highest (fortissimo) and the lowest (pianissimo) sound intensity. A hi-fi system with a good dynamic range will reproduce the perfect sound contrast, this property, when combined with the image and soundstage, will give an ideal listening space. …. The better, the more expensive the device and speaker/headset.

Equipment characteristics and combinations:

– When designing and customizing, we need to understand the specifications of the speakers/headphones and the power of the first amplifier. The principle is to combine enough amplifier and speaker power; the speaker will sound good and wide, harmonious and coherent, and the timbre, or how good. You have to learn each device’s sound quality and individual characteristics to increase the sound quality, reduce and add reasonably, and bring the best synchronization and coordination between devices; this depends on experience.

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