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How do you define warm?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by GreyBeard, Jan 10, 2003.

  1. When you use the word "Warm" to define a sound, what do you mean? Do you mean it is not cold? If so then define cold. I know, I know that means lack of warmth. It is just that we often use such ambiguous terms to describe what we hear that it is hard to understand what we mean. I know what I hear as warmer/colder, but, I’d like to have a way of describing this sound in more concrete terms. Any suggestions??:D
  2. Mike


    Sep 7, 2000
    Man, how do you describe tone? It's like describing color. What does red look like? Well, it's not blue or brown but red!

    Warmth? I think warmth implies some degree of "softness" (here we go) in tone. For instance, if I crank up the mids on my amp, it becomes very harsh, sterile and unnatural sounding to me. But, when I turn the mids down, (usually to about the one o'clock position at most) it sounds warmer, softer and more organic. It's exactly what happened when I added the Sans Amp into the mix with my Eden. I had envisioned my open strings, in particular, sounding softer, warmer, with a more tube like quality. Once I plugged in that's exactly what it did. It mellowed the dynamics a bit it but gave it power, presence and clarity. It buffered the solid state harshness the Eden still carries with it and made it warmer and more pleasing to the ears, rather than harsh and abrasive. I'm going in cicles...

    I'm outta breath. ;)
  3. Yeah! I totally hate ambiguous terms like "warm", "tight", "punchy", "sterile", blah blah blah.

    I associate warmth with bass. For example, if I set my bass at 8 o'clock, that's cold/sterile. When I set it to 2 o'clock, it becomes "warm".
  4. One way to describe 'warm' is... not so much what you hear, but how it makes you feel . Mmmm, warm.....

    This may sound silly, but it's just a different perspective.

    Another way??

    Think of sound, or 'tone', eminating from cone drivers. Now, think of the same cone drivers, coated with a layer of velvet.

    A certain cone driver manufacturer once became known for having the 'velvet hammer' sound.

    Hmmm. Warm.


  5. PollyBass

    PollyBass ******

    Jun 25, 2001
    Shreveport, LA
    Ok ok, first pre heat your oven to 400degrees, then cook your bass for an hour, then, remember your pot holders ladies! Grab your bass, you should know have a very, very, very, "warm" bass.
  6. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    All you can really do is compare one sound to another, such as SWR SM-900 to an Ampeg SVT-CL.

    Play through one, then play through the other one. But use a bass that is also described as having a clean sound, perhaps a Modulus. That way the bass itself won't warm up the clean sound. It might clean up the warm sound somewhat, but you will still hear the distinction. That's the best advice I can give, and I think once you do that warmer and colder/cleaner will be perfect adjectives.

    Which one is good and which one is bad is up to you. Both have their own merits, based on your preference and the music being played.
  7. I usually call it warm when it's plenty low mids..
  8. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    The key is that these terms are relative, not absolute. Warm might be ambiguous, but "warmer than" or "cleaner than" is a useful description.

    There is no substitute for hearing these things for yourself, but a discussion, even in more ambiguous terms, will steer someone in the right direction. Once you play a variety of basses and amps you'll understand these terms and be able to use them as a reference.
  9. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA
    Low bass to me is under 60 hz. This is mostly felt imo, a dynamic of a sound more then the sound itself. I like this at about 50%.

    low mid is between 60 hz and 300 hz. This seems to me to be the thumping sweet spot. I like this at about 66%.

    High mid is between 300 hz and 1 khz. I usually prefer to turn this down a bit, say to about 40%.

    Highs I like to leave alone, at around 50%.

    When I set my settings like this, it produces what "sounds" warm to me. That's the best way I can think of to describe it.
  10. marc40a


    Mar 20, 2002
    Boston MA
    I agree about the low mids. Even if a bass has a really sharp, defined top end it can be 'warm' if the low mids are togther. That's actually the sound I'm striving for right now when looking for replacement PU's for my jazz.

    Another common interpretation of the 'warm' sound is the presence harmonic distortion. Whether it's coming from tubes, a speaker, or a pickup. A little subtle fuzz (so subtle that you wouldn't associate it with the 'effect' known as fuzz.) is often percieved as warmth. Thats' the difference between the afforementioned SM900 and SVT. Another example would be between an active ceramic pickup and a alnico.
  11. JOME77


    Aug 18, 2002
    How do you define warm?

    Just kidding! I think maybe the term came from the use of vaccum tubes in amps (due to the tube filament glowing). The sound of tubes is unique and typically described as WARM. So when an amp has that tube sound players say "man that is so WARM sounding!
  12. ThunderStik

    ThunderStik Guest

    Jun 25, 2001
    Claremore OK.
    Warm- Aguilar, Ampeg,
    Cold/Sterile- Hartke,Peavey
    (to me)

    To me these are examples of extremes.
    To me rigs that are known for warmth have a very "round" sound , and the punch of a quick attack is thicker, almost like the spike is wider at the top and rounded as opposed to what I would call sterile/cold where the peaks sound as if they are very thin and sharp at the peaks.

    There seems to be a prescence also that really is almost felt with the rigs that I would call "warm".

  13. So what would you get if you played an SVT CL through a Hartke Cab?....Luke warm or just a bit :cool:
  14. ThunderStik

    ThunderStik Guest

    Jun 25, 2001
    Claremore OK.
    Aluminum hubcaps;)
  15. secretdonkey


    Oct 9, 2002
    Austin, TX
    Cold sound: take an electric guitar and amp into a tin storage building with a concrete floor.

    Warm sound: take the same guitar into a carpeted bedroom.

    Cold sound: Electronic instrument, especially an 'early' digital electronic instrument

    Warm sound: acoustic instrument

    Cold sound: Digital recording

    Warm sound: Analog recording

    I think that "warmth" comes from a smoothing out of certain frequencies and harmonics. In the bedroom, soft surfaces absorb, rather than reflect the harsh elements of the guitar sound. With the electronic instrument, you get a highly accurate but untempered sound, while "imperfections" cancel out or muffle some detail in the acoustic instrument. Digital recordings capture detail more precisely than we normally hear it in a natural environment - analog provides a fine sandpaper that smooths out the sound and polishes it to an attractive shine. By being slightly less perfect, it seems more natural.

    I'm definitely not an expert, and my head spins when studio engineers start talking about sound properties, but I think this is on the right track...
  16. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    Yep, it's a vague term. To me, warm means emphasis on either lows or low mids. A sound that is not warm would have abrasive mids or treble. But a warm sound could also have mids and treble.

    A lot of sounds I consider warm have been softened by a bit of tube-like saturation.
  17. monkfill


    Jan 1, 2003
    Kansas City
    I lean more toward the soft, tube-like saturation definition, although low-mids help. However, I can work the low-mid eq on my SWR and it still sounds very clean and precise, which in my mind is not warm. In fact, the low-mids get harsh/honky before they get any thickness.
  18. fremenblue


    Jan 8, 2003
    Eugene, Or.
    Definitely we're talking subjective terms, not completely able to be scientifically defined, because what is warm to me may be too muddy, messy, and undefined to someone else.
    In orchestra we talk about strings as being bright or dark, instruments sounding open or closed, and yes we talk about good warm tones when the instrument doesn't have any tubes!! Perhaps if I compare I can come up with a little more help here. When my cello sounds warm it's because the sound isn't saturated with high frequency overtones that are clashing. The overtones are harmonious, rich, and in support of the fundamental. There are white noises--the bow generates that just by the friction across the string--but even that is a musical sound that is proportional.
    When I hear a cold amp, it's sterile. The overtones are overly bright and unnaturally clear. They aren't in proportion to the fundamental tone. There is a lack of shape to the tone, a flatness; perhaps because it's so clean it cuts out certain overtones that should sort of flesh out the tone? OR perhaps that is the absence of some white noise that I actually find pleasant, as in tube amps.
    With a good warm tone, whether tube or solid state, there is a fullness of overtones that isn't clashing, has harmony and proportionality. The higher overtones are not particularly dominant or sparkly. I can feel the fundamental in a visceral way. The white noise fills in, perhaps--that's just a theory or guess. With tubes I think there's some validity to it, that airyness that gives a sort of percussiveness that's soft and aspirated, like when you say "p" and hold your hand up to your mouth. You can feel the air move.

    Yup. You can navelgaze on this one aaaalll dayyyy long!!!

  19. Rockbobmel

    Rockbobmel Supporting Member

    Well, if velvet cones are warm, than aluminum cones are cold. But Hartke cabs SOUND warm, the only FEEL cold.

    Tube amps don't sound warm either, they sond "Juicy" as opposed to "Dry" like some SS amps.

    Eden amps are warm, even with the fan running, and they're SS.
  20. TheCreature

    TheCreature Supporting Member

    May 22, 2002
    Dallas, TX
    What does a bananna taste like?

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