Adjectives which describe narrow tonal qualities or irregularities are listed in the following table, in order of frequency. The dividing lines between bass, mid and treble are always arbitrary. ‘ + ’ indicates the adjective is used to describe an excess in the frequency area. ‘++’ means ‘even more than’. ‘ – ’ indicates a deficit.

No symbol means the word is not simply a tonal indicator, or is used mainly for frequency area identification. Words on cascaded lines are synonyms.

Highest Treble
Airy see ‘Broader tonal perspectives’.
Sheen Very high treble, above 16kHz, often absent or really hiss.
+Tizzy Excess around 12-16kHz, usually overemphasizing cymbals’ high harmonics.
+Brittle Excess of high, metallic-sound, usually around 8-16kHz.
++Glassy Excess around 4-8kHz.
Sibilance 5 to 7kHz.
Treble, down into the High Midrange
+Crisp Peak about 3 to 4kHz.
Presence Centered on 2kHz.
+Nasal 1kHz emphasis.
+Honky Like a Cockney saying ‘oi’, or like poor or improperly used mid/hf
horn speakers. Around 600 to 800Hz.
+Chesty Excess in the 200 to 400Hz area, particularly with pure male vocals.
+Boxy As if the singer is inside a cardboard box. Aggravated by cube shaped
monitors. Around 250-450Hz.
+Woody A characteristic mid-bass resonance in some larger speakers.
Low Midrange into Bass
Boomy see dynamics.
Punchy Around 120–160Hz, a high definition area.
+Gutsy Low bass that is visceral, i.e. can be felt.
Boof-Boof Around 80–90Hz, soft bass area.
+ Chunky 80–90Hz ‘sample’ bass with added harmonic definition.
-        Gutless Absence of low bass.

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