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What’s A “Warm” Sounding Recording?

Daily Blog - May 10th 2021

We've all probably described a sound as "warm" at some point. But what do we actually mean by that? And do we all mean the same thing?

What does "warm" mean to you when talking about sound in general, or about a certain instrument tone, for example? 

I think it's an interesting question to ask, because in my experience we rarely all mean the same thing. I sometimes ended up creating a tone for a client that sounded very "warm" to me, but not at all to my client and vice versa.

Also, it's a pretty overused word. To the point where some people describe almost everything that sounds pleasing or good as "warm".

What’s A “Warm” Sounding Recording?

Does it even matter what it means exactly? What I think matters more is that the person we are talking to understands what we mean in that specific situation.

So maybe, instead of just using terms like "warm" all the time, we should learn some basic audio terms that have a more clear, defined meaning and use them to describe what we perceive as "warm". 

Some examples:

Many people use "warm" to describe something that's not very bright sounding, so "more lows, less highs" to put it very simple. Or something that doesn't have a lot of harsh resonant frequencies that stick out. Something that is slightly distorted in a pleasant way, slightly saturated and "overdriven". Because that adds overtones to the signal, making it more dense and potentially evening out the resonances.

Things like "more low midrange", "more 300Hz-500Hz", "less upper midrange", "more bass", "less treble", "more saturation", "a little overdrive", "slightly more distorted" could all mean "warm". 

Or none of these but just a different type of top end (highs). Maybe more smooth 12kHz+ and less 8kHz-10kHz.

Or something entirely different, like "less reverb", "more direct, intimate and close". Or the exact opposite of that. 

See the problem? 🙂

Let's figure out what "a warm sound" means to us. 

Let's do some experimenting. Let's find and use terms to describe our "warm" more precisely. The communication within our band and with everyone we collaborate with will be so much smoother and good results will be achieved faster. 

This applies to all other abstract, descriptive "audio terms", as well. 

-Benedikt

PS: You'll also find these daily blog posts in my Instagram Stories: @benedikthain

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