What is timing?

Serious question, just read a post saying X times “more convincingly” than Y.

I’ve no idea what this means, maybe I don’t belong here after all :frowning_face:



Some of the posts in the more technical threads often leave me scratching my head, and not joining in the conversation seems to be the best way to hide my ignorance.


Very good question, Timing is the PRaT component I’m struggling with the most personally.

My interpretation is how fast and nimble a system is to push sound forward and retain control to follow the musical message. When the system lags, the musical message becomes less convincing and the emotion lessens.

But I’m also anxious to learn what other members think.


Maybe this thread will help. A few users have identified a few tracks that time well.

I’m not following your logic. Maybe all your good gear was allowing you to hear a bad recording?

Good timing is when the notes stop and start at the correct moment, and the lengths of time between the notes are just right, so your brain processes the flow in a fluid and easy manner. This leads to the feeling that your brain is creating the music itself, and that makes the music more satisfying and enjoyable by putting you in the drivers seat.
It’s a bit like listening to an orator who is verbalising in an articulate way many of your own unformed thoughts in such a way that their speech is congenial to you, because it crystallises what you already know. An orator who does not do this can be exhausting and put you to sleep.


I’ve updated the link. Those previous comments were from a user in the thread not mine. My system isn’t that great lol

Listen to live music, timing is the groove that a band gets into on a good night; a rock band, jazz band, orchestra… timing is what makes your foot tap, timing is the motion that makes you want to dance and move.:musical_keyboard::drum::guitar:

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Surely the musicians provide this,not the HiFi.


Personally, I think it means that the interplay between the various artists and instruments is more explicit, or obvious, or laid bare, resulting in the a better presentation of the ‘conversations’ between these contributors. Very subjective definition, I agree!

To me, pace is the speed of the music, rhythm is the groove and swing, and timing is how it all fits together.

If you see a live jazz trio or a string quartet play, you’ll see how they all sit or stand so they can see each other. They watch each other carefully so they can get their timing exactly right. Larger ensembles will watch the conductor.

A hifi that ‘times’ well will portray this intimate interplay and make the music more real and engrossing.

Reality and involvement are what I look for in hifi, not bass, treble, soundstage, prat or whatever. If it gets the reality and involvement right then everything else should be in place by default.


I think ‘timing’ can mean several things in audio/ music replay

  1. if the sound is congested it’s is hard to hear the discrete elements and space around instrumentation, dynamic expression used in musical timing will be more compressed, the chances are it will exhibit poor timing… your foot is unlikely to tap.
  2. eq can accentuate timing, and pace and rhythm, usually a more forward or less reassessed mid with respect to other frequencies often helps.
  3. transient response and smearing; if the replay exhibits low smearing and has a faster transient response… the chances are elements in the music that give rhyming or timing cues, especially with higher frequency elements will sound sharper and will appear to give a stronger timing and rhythmic signature.

There may well be many more, but those are the key points for me…

There are the non musical replay element to… which is related to point 3) above and that is the micro timing of the space between sound elements / components. This is important in human hearing and our timing resolution usually far exceeds the frequency response as the nerves in our cochleas fade as we age.

In music timing of course is the regular breathing and flow of the motifs and phrasing… it is often used to play games with our brains, especially in jazz and much contemporary music, where when are expecting a note or event it is slightly delayed or brought forward… this adds interest or tension and we are often attracted to it… You may hear such timing repeated in a hook or motif, or regularly throughout a piece of music… when subtle timing adjustments combined with intensity and on a regular repeated basis it is sometimes referred to as a groove… as used in dance music from jigs and reels to EDM.

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This has always been my interpretation of timing too. Music will sound very organised and clearly set out

Try looking at footage of Led Zeppelin playing live. Or Rush. Or the Stones on a good day (or pick your favourite band/genre to taste). How do they seem to be so telepathic , play so fast yet give each other all the time and room they need? Tight timing. Led Zeppelin were so tight that they could play extra loose without losing it. I’ve seen concerts where bands couldn’t play coherently and an (happily) more concerts where bands were unbelievably tight. Sometimes the acoustics of the venue mess it up, delay/modulate frequencies and smear the timing so that the performance is unengaging (at best). I’ve walked out of a few of those over the years. You can also come at it from the other direction. Otway and Barrat for example, who use telepathic timing and interplay to create an apparent mess.

For me, a system that clearly portrays this interplay is timing well. For example, whereas a 252 will portray how one member of a rhythm section hands over to another, a 552 will show you how they did it. The 552/500 in our system, even years after arriving still produces moments of “Oh! So that’s how they did it”, among it’s many other abilities. Many of these moments are to do with grip and timing. Hearing more accurately where/when notes and sounds start and stop is also a component.

It’s more multi faceted of course. There must be a myriad of elements that my ears tick the boxes for that my brain doesn’t consciously describe to me. But you know when it’s timing right. You get more involved. My example above is a way that I experience something I can describe.

I’ve heard too many systems to count that don’t seem to time. On the face of it this seems ridiculous. But they really don’t. Some time differently. Linn times differently to Naim. Exposure times the same as Naim. When you hear something that nails the timing to your value of what correct timing should be, you begin to hear how others don’t. Correct timing or Naim timing? I think that the over arching reputation of Naim for musical involvement, the urge to tap snap and dance, music like it sounds with real people playing it, PRaT if you like, all stack up on the right side.


Been listening to my cheapo Denon kit in the old covid home office quite a bit (?) over past few months, and the timing of complex jazz tunes, Coleman, Coltrane etc sounds as good as my main Naim set up. Less definition and overall involvement, but i honestly can’t split the timing?

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Indeed, definition and timing are not necessarily related. One thing to note old BDB (British Dance Band) recordings are bandwidth and dynamic limited, so equipment can find it easier to replay without sounding congested or muddled.

if X and Y are products for music playback this where Naims power-supplies pays off (there are other reasons to).

you need a stiff power-supply with full audio bandwidth otherwise some musical/audio events (bass drum whack) will mask others (high-hat tick) when the power-supply cant handle it.

at least that was the explanation given in the happy flat-earth 80’s. so far it has worked for me.

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If by a hazardous moment you find yourself nearby a steep cliff with a too high momentum push, timing is the speed you realize that you just have to let it go and figure out the fall… Music timing is a succession of these moments.

Timing is when you have say 5 hours on your own during the day before everyone comes back and demands attention.
4 hours spent playing stuff, then finally finding what you really really want to listen to loud.
Then getting it in the ear as everyone returning says they could hear it down the road, please turn it down or off.


I had a listen to @PeterR system yesterday and that timed ridiculously well. A 500 system in an acoustically treated room is something to marvel at!
My opinion now having recently changed from a Supernait2 to a 250DR based system has shown me a huge improvement in speaker control and in my opinion it does now time better. I believe that this timing trait will improve with all the amps in the Naim range up to a point.
Referring back to @PeterR system again, your room cocks everything up with timing and associated PRAT. I will have a good going over @Thomas thread regarding acoustics as for me it is now safe to say that my room is atrocious but it always will be as it’s a family living room.

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