Perhaps this may be of some help.
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I've found that if your system sounds too briggt, dim the lights a bit. If it's too forward, move your listening chair back a foot or two. If it's transparent, earth to op, come back to reality. If the bass is tight that's a good thing, at least from what I can tell by the slang used by todays youth. Hope this helps you to better define your rig.
I think all these terms are used when describing the sound stage of your system. Music is subjective to the listener, and the type music they listen to. I prefer a more laid back sound, which to me is the opposite of forward. The word forward is considered fatiging to me, meaning I cant listen for long periods of time. I would decribe Transparency as how well your speakers presents the music, and if it appears to be coming form the speakers, or someplace between the two, where when you look at your right or left speaker you cant really tell music is coming from them. Dark is the opposite of an open soundstage, meaning you can tell where every instrument is placed on the stage. all this is subjective, and as I said earlier, this is the way I see it. What the hell do I know?
These terms are relative to ones experience. If you visit an audio shop or a friends house and hear their systems you will form an opinion of the sonic characteristics of that particular system and hopefully retain a sonic memory of that system. When you return home and listen to your system you will immediately notice the difference for better or worse of how your system sounds. One will most likely want to describe those differences between one system and another. I think is one way these types of terms come about. Musicians and audio engineers are very used to talking in these terms especially if you work in recording studios.
I notice a certain darkness and recessed sound quality with my speakers that is well documented by others. It is especially noticeable after returning from listening to another system. But when sitting at home listen to music these characteristics dont draw attention to themselves.
"Sound is DARK / FORWARD / TRANSPARENT?
Please help define above terms... And others like BASS IS TIGHT"
These terms are fairly common and accepted.
Dark--seriously...the opposite of bright, which means too much treble energy. So 'dark' is not enough treble energy.
Forward--the opposite of recessed, describing the relative front/backness of the music. I find that most folk who love pop music like it sort of 'in their face', which is forward. Most folk who like Classical music hate that in-your-faceness and prefer the sound a bit recessed so that they don't feel as if they're sitting atop the conductor.
Transparent--this one is more difficult. One reason for that is that transparency varies hugely from system to system and recording to recording. I perceive it as the ability to 'see' into the orchestra without 'veils' in the way. A highly transparent recording played on a highly transparent system sounds as if there's NOTHING but air between you and the musicians and recording venue. I feel as if I'm sitting on a stepladder, on the stage, behind the conductor, and all these excellent musicians are playing for ME. It's taken me decades to achieve that feeling, and it doesn't happen very often and NEVER while playing CDs. It happens only while playing the best SACDs and DVD-As. IME, it takes listening to LOTS of good hi-fi systems before you can hear small differences in transparency.
"Ironic how insufficient the internet truly is as a medium for understanding hi fi or high end sound. Words will always fall short. Yet its all we got to communicate to others what we hear. HElp me please!"
It is our fault! The fault of the/any audiophile community that there is not a shared glossary of terms that can be taught to newcomers... I am a relative newcomer and have tried to learn this language of explanation, only to run into more people misusing the terminology (or using it differently than someone else), in effect diluting it and our understanding of described sounds.
Sound and the way people hear it is a very individual thing just like the way people experience wine. Putting these sensuous stimuli into absolute terminology will always fall short. Wine descriptions crack me up.
For example when trying to describe sound the word "dark" can mean one thing to me in one context and in another context mean something totally different.