My opinion is that most people (including myself) who have used this phrase are referring to the opposite of "threadbare" or "lean" or "dry" or "lacking in full-bodied harmonic structure." Just my $.02, others may have a different opinion.
I think I have used that recently and I meant that the sound was lacking body - on a frequency response graph there would be a dip in frequency response in the approximate area of 150 - 300 hz which results in a 'lean' sound, so something like a saxaphone sounds more like a tenor saxaphone instead of having weight and tone in the lower frequencies.
Funny, I've always understood it to mean 'retrieving the last bit of detail'. Of course, one always needs to look at the statement in it's entire context. Some knowledge of the author would certainly help also.
I usually associate the term with the fatigue associated with surfing porn sites for five or six hours.
Very good, Octopus. Excellent, in fact!
These terms can mean anything you want them to mean or they can mean nothing. Fleshed-out is just some ridiculous term some reviewer thought up to confuse when trying to describe what a piece of audio gear sounds like. I personally like the term 'slow woofer' or 'slow subwoofer'. Woofers by nature and design ARE slow. If they were fast they would be tweeters.
This was a phrase commonly used by members of the Donner party. As in "The old man's all fleshed out, lets move on to the school teacher."
My understanding of the term relates to a good sound stage being three dimensional. A not so good sound stage would be spread right to left OK but with limited or no depth, in other words the musicians and instruments are like cardboard cutouts with no depth or "flesh" on them. Fleshing them out indicates there is good depth to the image and enhances the perception that real people are playing in your room. The other definitions are pretty good, too. A lot of audiophile terms are poorly defined and used a little too loosely to be certain what the writer really means!
Related to your question: I've always been uncertain as to what the term "fast" means with respect to an amp. I know what the reviewer means, but I swear I don't think I've ever heard it. I mean, if the amp is fast, won't the music be playing too fast, or not having the right harmonic decay, or something else unpleasant? Also, if the amp is "fast" can it also be "fleshed out?" Also, everything you hear depends on the particular recording you are listening to. Some of them are faster or more fleshed out than others! Reviewing is a weird, weird, business, yet we all read reviews. I mainly read them to see what components the reviewer A/B'd or otherwise compared the component in question with. If I've heard the comparative component, I can get a sense of whether I'd like the component being reviewed. But it's all so arbitary, as we all know. Nevertheless, over the years I've actually solved various problems I've had with the sound I was getting out of my system, so reviews, comparisons, and descriptive terms have all been helpful to me.
I would have a hard time arguing with Marty. Once again he has simplified things to their essence.
Actually the term does have a meaning. It does not mean whatever people want it to mean. When a writer is working on a project the writer begins (note the subtle avoidance of using "he") with an outline, and often character sketches. When a character is being developed he is being "fleshed out." When this term is applied to audio equipment it must mean that the product offers a fuller presentation of what was appearant earlier.
Pmotz hits it on the head with his closing statement. Words, and phrases mean things. It makes the writer appear a fool when they use words or phrases they do not understand.
I agree with Frank but enjoyed Octopus' response.
All this shows a couple of things AFAIC, one- just how much differently we all percieve anything (I have watched three people witness the same event and then listened in amazement when all describe it so differently you wonder if they were watching the same event), and two - just how difficult it can sometimes be for us to accurately describe to another what we are hearing -- which is why Octopus' response is right on.
Myself, when I think of "fleshed out" I analogize it to a skeleton or an emaciated person as opposed to someone with a healthy physique with some "meat on their bones" (you know, Twiggy or Calista Flockheart vs. Pamela Anderson). Thus, being fleshed out brings to my mind, filling in the empty areas with a healthy amount of . . . well . . . use yer imagination.
Ah heck with it, I think we shold ask Hannibal Lecter.
"Fleshed out" is a term used by a hunter (or trapper), when the skin and fat are removed from a carcass. In this instance, I would expect it to be used in reference to "getting to the meat". The meat being the music, as opposed to hearing the electronics.
But what do I know?
$0.02 from Alaska
That should have read "skin and fur". You need the fat for flavor...
I havealways believed fleshed out to refer to the ability to hear all of what is going on in the music, instruments, rhythyms, timbres, etc not just the skeleton. As the total level of accurate information recovered increases, the music reproduction becomes more fleshed out and closer to the real thing.
Not to be graphic, but flesh as in human flesh would mean skin color. So I would guess all the "colors" would be in place. Harmonics, detail, more natural flesh, or more "lifelike" (flesh) presentation.
And you all thought speaker differences(2way,3way,planars,)were mind boggling...now we throw opinions of what audio phraseologies mean..oooh weee.