Our sister site SoundGuys has all sorts of objective ways to talk about audio, and when we feature their headphones reviews, we appreciate that. But if you head to other corners of the web, you’ll find many terms used to describe audio: “warm,” “crisp,” “punchy,” “sharp,” “dull,” and more. What do these terms even mean, though? Is there some standard, or are they being used on an ad-hoc basis?

Here’s a spoiler: these audio terms usually don’t have a standard, but there are standardized ways to talk about audio.