A POINT OF VIEW: Sonic texture

 

Paul McGowan writes: Describing what we hear as having a texture is an interesting Audiophile term.  What’s the texture of a violin or a tuba?  Do these instruments even have a texture?  Not really,  this is yet another term used to describe something we hear in a manner that is easier for us to relate to.

Cloth has texture.  When you rub your fingers over a piece of canvas you would describe it as having a rather coarse texture relative to silk which has a smooth soft texture.  In this way we can close our eyes and pretty accurately identify various cloth types.  It isn’t a lot different for audio textures.

Textures in audio are buried in the recording of each instrument and some audio equipment makes them obvious while others mask their presence.  This is another way of describing “upper energy” or “harmonic overtones” for it is in these areas that textural clues are kept for each instrument.

When you hear a violin and it presents itself as smooth, homogenous and non-specific we would suggest there are few textural cues reproduced.  But if we hear more of the violin’s body, the movement of the bow against the strings, the amount of rosin applied to that bow, this we could accurately say has great texture.

Texture (in audio terms) helps us individualize one instrument from the many even down to the brand of instrument being played.  It is one of the more elusive attributes for audio designers to figure out how to maximize but an awesome and much desired trait when they do.  It’s what I am currently struggling on with the amp.