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Original article: August 8, 2023: Our sister site SoundGuys has all sorts of objective ways to talk about audio, and when we feature its 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: among enthusiasts, audio terms usually don’t have a standard, but there are standardized ways to talk about audio.

Common audio terms and what they might mean

Zak Khan / Android Authority

Even if the terms you see flying around don’t inherently mean much, we can attempt to pick apart what they might mean in a few contexts. Keep in mind that we can’t speak with every author in mind, nor can we assume consistent usage of these terms elsewhere.

What does crunchy audio sound like?

This term could have any number of meanings, but it is almost always negative. “Crunchy” sound often refers to poor reproduction and reproduction of instruments. When audio is “crunchy,” it can be difficult to tell a guitar apart from a harp and even a drum. It could sound as if everything is “crunched” together.

Crunchy may also mean the drivers are loose or broken, leading to “crackling” or “rattling” sounds in a pair of headphones or a speaker.

What does warm mean when discussing how headphones sound?

“Warm” is usually a positive term. It tends to mean that an audio product produces pleasing amounts of bass — but not too much! Warmth also implies that vocals are clear, if present, and that the mids remain audible. What usually distinguishes it from “balanced” is the presence of stronger bass than you’d find in a product called “balanced,” with highs that, while present, are less loud than the mids and lows. By extension, warmth tends to associate with clearly reproduced instrumentation.

In audiophile circles, warmth is associated with tube amplifiers and analog, versus digital, sound circuitry. However, there’s another debate about whether casual listeners can perceive any effect.

What makes music sound lush?

The term “lush” is usually a positive descriptor used for audio products that are “warm” and generally pleasant to hear. This is a slippery term. You may often see it in phrases such as “lush strings,” used to indicate both accurate instrument reproduction and an enjoyable frequency response.

How do you describe something that sounds muddy?


The term “muddy” ends up being an umbrella term for many kinds of “bad” audio. Muddy sound is usually used to describe products that don’t reproduce instruments clearly, have way too much bass, and make it difficult to pick out vocals. While it is hard to state the exact reason a writer might describe any one product as muddy, we feel safe saying it’s a negative term and generally indicates poor-quality sound reproduction.

What kind of sounds make music sparkle and shimmer?

These are terms you’ll find concerning high-frequency sound reproduction. Overall these are positive and tend to mean sound with loud high notes that aren’t too harsh or piercing. Often, writers may call cymbals or small bells “shimmery” or “sparklingly clear.” Some listeners, however, may not enjoy such loud and prominent high notes.

Is there a difference between clean, clear, and transparent audio?

These terms tend to describe audio that has instruments easily distinguishable from one another without anything sounding too loud or too quiet. It does not necessarily indicate a studio headphones-type frequency response, though. Sound can be “transparent” or “clear” and still have boosted bass if you can still hear loud strings and bells, for instance. “Clean” audio is usually the opposite of “muddy.”

Is boomy the same as bass-heavy?

“Boomy” bass is bass that’s too loud in a bad way, most often. It “booms” louder than other sounds and drowns out other frequencies.

Is thumpy sound a good thing?

Often denoted as what a subwoofer feels like, “thumpy” bass is used as a positive to indicate you can “feel” the bass notes in your body. It may also be a negative because too much bass emphasis can make it hard to hear higher-pitched frequencies. Generally, thumpy bass means a pleasing amount of bass output without being too overwhelming.

What do detailed and analytical mean when describing sound?

“Detailed” or “analytical” sound tends to mean no frequency range overpowers another so that you can hear all of them roughly equally. You might see this term come up when describing audio products for studio settings, where you’d want to hear every frequency you can. Similar to “clear,” it doesn’t necessarily beget a studio-like frequency response. Amped-up bass can still permit you to hear other frequencies if done properly.

What does it mean if mids are recessed, restrained, or hollow?

We’re lumping these together because they tend to describe similar effects, though often at different points in the audible spectrum. Sound that is “hollow” or “recessed” has mids that are too quiet. This may also be called “v-shaped,” because the frequency response chart will appear as if a big valley is present in the mids. This can make the bass and treble sound louder, but it makes vocals and other midrange frequencies harder to hear. Sometimes headphones do this because it sounds decent if you’re just trying a pair before purchase, and you may not notice the problems until a little later.

Muddy sound is usually used to describe products that don’t reproduce instruments clearly, have way too much bass, and make it difficult to pick out vocals.

Restrained can imply the same thing, but it may be more value-neutral. “Restrained bass” could be a compliment indicating the bass was expected to drown out other sounds but ended up not doing so.

When something is too loud, does that make it harsh, grating, or piercing?

Almost always indicators of problems, these terms tend to describe the high-frequency reproduction of an audio product. If the highs are too loud, it may sound like a smoke alarm or car anti-theft warning. A “grating” sound may also imply an extended or chronic problem — it makes you “grit your teeth and bear it” — while “piercing” may indicate shorter durations of the same. “Harsh” tends to be a general audio descriptor of too much treble.

What does dull, flat audio sound like?

“Dull” and “flat” might be used to describe a lack of treble notes, or they may be terms for generally “bad” audio. Its counterpoints are usually “exciting” or “fun.”

Flat might be a positive if you’re looking for studio headphones because a “flat” frequency response curve doesn’t emphasize any part of the audible spectrum too much.

What do dry, thin, liquid, and smooth mean?

“Thin” audio is usually audio that has quiet bass and sub-bass, as is “dry” audio. Liquid sound usually has audible bass, but it may be a touch too loud to hear midrange and treble instrumentation clearly like you would with something that sounds “detailed” or “analytic.”

Smooth is similar, but may also indicate no odd peaks in the frequency response curve of a product.

Does peaky audio mean music sounds too loud?

“Peaky” audio, as the name implies, tends to be used for products with frequency response curves with peaks or valleys in odd places. These can create a jarring listening experience with unexpectedly loud or quiet notes when slightly higher or lower frequencies aren’t reproduced in such a manner. Of all the casual audio terms, this one tends to be the most consistent.

What makes music sound fun or energetic?

When used to refer to dynamic range, or the difference between the loudest and most quiet parts, “energetic” implies a broad range. However, “fun” and “exciting” are far more subjective. They mean, for example, emphasized bass output, the ability of a speaker to get very loud overall, or even a particular case design.

What is the standardized audio definition of punch?

The ITU defines punch as “whether the strokes on drums and bass are reproduced with clout, almost as if you can feel the blow. The ability to effortlessly handle large volume excursions without compression (compression is heard as level variations that are smaller than one would expect from the perceived original sound).” Fair enough, but what does that signify when you’re listening to something?

First, let’s start with “compression” (also defined by the ITU) — not to be confused with audio file format compression. Audio that is “compressed” means it doesn’t have a wide dynamic range. That is, the difference between quiet and loud portions is narrow. Thus, “punchy” bass has an ample difference between quiet and loud drums, for instance. “Clout” means a heavy blow or impact. Adding that gives us bass that sounds like a drummer has made heavy, hard hits from sticks onto drums in a song.

All of these ITU standard terms get real definitions, and we can use them consistently.

A product with “punch” can handle large volume outputs without extra dynamic compression. The audio output does not all occur at one volume, and it does not blend various bass-producing instruments into a mass. In popular parlance, however, punch often has a broader definition. In this usage, it means bass that is forceful and quick.

What are the standardized audio definitions of dark and bright?

Dark audio has too much bass or not enough treble, and bright audio has too much treble or not enough bass. This is how the ITU defines them, and in general, it seems most of the time, other writers use these terms in this way. However, “bright” is also used by other publications as a compliment, so unless you’re sure a given writer is following ITU standards, this may vary.

What is the standardized audio definition of attack?

What is the standardized audio definition of boomy?

We saw this one before, but to the ITU, it specifically indicates bass that reverberates “as sound in a large barrel.” By “reverberates,” the ITU means the bass persists for too long and keeps going even after the instrument producing it is no longer being played. This is similar to the casual use of the term and indicates too much bass.

What is the standardized audio definition of dry?

Dry has a specific meaning to the ITU, where it indicates a space that does not have much reverberation. These are usually “small furnished spaces such as living rooms or spaces outdoor without reflecting objects.” Unlike its colloquial meaning, the opposite to dry in the ITU specifications is not “liquid.”

What is the standardized audio definition of tinny?

The term “tinny” is another popular option, and the ITU specification describes it as something with too much high-frequency or high-frequency response with too much resonance. You can think of it as the upper note version of “boomy.”

Also read: What is lossless audio?

Even from the examples above, it’s clear that though actual hard definitions exist for some audio terms, that doesn’t mean people use the terms in that way. Furthermore, ITU’s terms may or may not overlap with common usage.

When we write audio reviews, we tend to avoid most non-ITU terms as much as possible. Often, it’s better to indicate what frequencies sound louder than others. Saying, “the bass is about twice as loud as the mids,” is much more concrete and explanatory than trying to find a metaphorical descriptor.

However, we cannot vouch for the style guide of every publication out there. Still, we hope this guide helped you, at least when reading other audio reviews.

You're reading Audio Terms Explained: Crunchy? Warm? Punchy?

Pagerank Explained In Simple Terms!

In my previous article, we talked about information retrieval and how machines can read the context from free text. Let’s talk about the biggest web information retrieval engine, Google, and the algorithm that powers its search results: the Google PageRank algorithm. Imagine you were to create a Google search in a world devoid of any search engine. What basic rules would you code to build such a search engine? If your answer is to use a Term Frequency or TF-IDF framework, consider the following case:

But, do search engines like Google face this challenge today? Obviously not! This is because they take help of an algorithm known as PageRank. In this article, we will discuss the concept of PageRank. In the next article, we will take this algorithm a step forward by leveraging it to find the most important packages in R.

An artificial web world

Imagine a web which has only 4 web pages, which are linked to each other. Each of the box below represents a web page. The words written in black and italics are the links between pages.

For instance, in the web page “Tavish”, it has 3 outgoing links : to the other three web pages. Now, let’s draw a simpler directed graph of this ecosystem.

Here is how Google ranks a page : The page with maximum number of incoming links is the most important page.  In the current example, we see that the “Kunal Jain” page comes out as the most significant page.

Mathematical Formulation of Google Page Rank

First step of the formulation is to build a direction matrix. This matrix will have each cell as the proportion of the outflow. For instance, Tavish (TS) has 3 outgoing links which makes each proportion as 1/3.

Now we imagine that if there were a bot which will follow all the outgoing links, what will be the total time spent by this bot on each of these pages. This can be broken down mathematically into following equation :

A * X = X

Here A is the proportions matrix mentioned above

X is the probability of the bot being on each of these pages

Clearly, we see that Kunal Jain’s page in this universe comes out to be most important which goes in the same direction as our intuition.

Teleportation adjustments

Now, imagine a scenario where we have only 2 web pages : A and B. A has a link to B but B has no external links. In such cases, if you try solving the matrix, you will get a zero matrix. This looks unreasonable as B looks to be more important than A. But, our algorithm still gives same importance for both. To solve for this problem, a new concept of teleporatation was introduced. We include a constant probability of alpha to each of these pages. This is to compensate for instances where a user teleports from one webpage to other without any link. Hence, the equation is modified to the following equation :

(1-alpha) * A * X + alpha * b = X

Here, b is a constant unit column matrix. Alpha is the proportion of teleportation. The most common value taken for alpha is 0.15 (but can depend on different cases).

Other uses of PageRank Algorithm & End Notes

In this article we discussed the most significant use of PageRank. But, the use of PageRank is no way restricted to Search Engines. Here are a few other uses of PageRank :

Finding how well connected a person is on Social Media : One of the unexplored territory in social media analytics is the network information. Using this network information we can estimate how influential is the user. And therefore prioritize our efforts to please the most influential customers. Networks can be easily analyzed using Page Rank algorithm.

Fraud Detection in Pharmaceutical industry : Many countries including US struggle with the problem of high percentage medical frauds. Such frauds can be spotted using Page Rank algorithm.

Understand the importance of packages in any programming language : Page Rank algorithm can also be used to understand the layers of packages used in languages like R and Python. We will take up this topic in our next article.

Thinkpot: Can you think of more usage of Page Rank algorithm?  Share with us useful links to leverage Page Rank algorithm in various fields.

Did you find this article useful? Do let us know your thoughts about this article in the box below.

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Universal Audio Volt 2 Usb

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Founded in 1958 by audio engineer Bill Putnam, Sr., Universal Audio is well-known in the pro audio world for manufacturing top-shelf outboard gear (preamps, compressors, and the like) and for the best-in-class audio converters found in its Apollo line of interfaces. In late 2023, the company announced its new Volt series, which aims to deliver UA’s sought-after analog sound and high-quality conversion in its most affordable and travel-friendly audio interfaces. I recently spent some time on the road recording and traveling with the Universal Audio Volt 2, a 2-input/2-output model that concentrates on providing the cleanest signal in a compact form factor. Here are my thoughts on the interface’s sound, design, and workflow to assess how it stacks up against similar USB interfaces in its price range.

The Universal Audio Volt 2’s design

The Volt series runs the gamut in size and price, from the 1-input/2-output Volt 1 at $139 to the 4-input/4-output Volt 476P at $469. While each of the Volt interfaces is bus-powered via USB-C and includes a unique “vintage” tonal option—more on that later—a few of the models also include a built-in FET compressor styled after the company’s 1176LN Compressor, a relatively loud and bright-sounding compressor capable of producing responsive, transparent signal leveling but costing several thousand dollars. The Universal Audio Volt 2‘s distinguishing feature, however, is its panache and portability: its clean rectangular chassis measures roughly 7 x 5 x 2 inches, it weighs just 1.4 pounds, and it requires no wall wart thanks to its USB-C bus-powered design.

From a design standpoint, the Volt 2 significantly improves on Universal Audio’s last portable offering, the 6 x 6 x 3-inch, 2.4-pound Apollo Twin X, which requires wall power. The Volt 2’s control panel is also organized in a straightforward and easy-to-use manner, with most of the gain controls and monitoring options clearly labeled and placed alongside the interface’s two combo XLR/¼-inch inputs, which accept mic, instrument, and line level signals. A few backlit buttons offer access to 48-volt phantom power, instrument signal selection, and the Volt’s distinctive “vintage” mode, which engages solid-state electronics to add soft clipping and warm saturation to the input signals in the style of the Universal Audio Solo 610 Tube Preamp.

Like the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, PreSonus AudioBox GO (which I reviewed in 2023), and other similarly-sized 2-in/2-out USB interfaces, the Volt 2 features a single 48-volt phantom power toggle that sends voltage to both inputs simultaneously. This won’t pose a problem for most users, but this limitation is something to keep in mind if you’re using vintage ribbon mics or other equipment that may be damaged by phantom power. On the conversion side, the Volt 2 features an impressive max audio conversion rate of 24-bit/192kHz, matching that of Universal Audio’s flagship Apollo line of interfaces and allowing users to record extremely high-fidelity audio with a very small footprint.

One significant design limitation of the Volt 2 is its lack of onboard DSP processing, which is required to run Universal Audio’s vast library of over 200 plugins. While none of the interfaces in the Volt series can run Universal Audio’s plugins, this speaks to a larger caveat in the company’s ecosystem; to run most UAD plugins, you need an Apollo-series interface or an external UAD accelerator. This is somewhat remedied yet further convoluted by the recent introduction of UAD Spark. This new subscription service offers access to around 20 of the company’s plugins without an Apollo interface or other external processors. Long story short: you’ll save a lot of money opting for a Volt-series interface over an Apollo, but you won’t be able to use it to run most of Universal Audio’s plugins.

Plug-n-play, as they say. Julian Vittorio

Getting started with the Universal Audio Volt 2

Setting up the UA Volt 2 for recording is a breeze thanks to its bus-powered design. To get started, I removed the interface from its packaging, unpacked the included USB-C cable, and connected the Volt 2 to a USB port on my MacBook Pro. The Volt 2 immediately powered on and appeared as an available device for audio input and output in Logic Pro, my preferred digital audio workstation. If you’re running the Volt 2 into an older USB hub or want to conserve battery on your device, an included 5VDC-to-USB connector allows you to power the interface with your own USB-to-wall power adapter.

I primarily tested the Volt 2 while traveling, which required that I set it up and pack it away in several different hotel rooms with workspaces of varying sizes. Next to a 13-inch laptop, the Volt 2 is a perfectly-sized interface for assembling a lean and mean mobile recording rig, and because it doesn’t require wall power, it’s easy to set up pretty much anywhere. While on the road, I only had an electric guitar and bass at my disposal for recording, both of which I connected directly to one of the Volt 2’s 1/4-inch instrument inputs while monitoring through the interface’s headphone output using a pair of KRK KNS 8400 over-ear headphones. I also used the Volt 2’s direct monitoring feature, which offers latency-free monitoring of the input signals via a front panel switch to ensure a natural and comfortable performance experience.

Suppose you’re setting up the Volt 2 as part of a larger studio setup. In that case, the interface features left and right TRS outputs on its rear panel for connecting to studio monitors and two MIDI ports for connecting older synths and other MIDI-compatible devices. Some smaller two-preamp interfaces like the Apollo Twin include ADAT to allow users to expand their rigs with additional inputs and outputs. While I would have liked to see this feature included in the Volt instead of the older and less commonly used MIDI connectors, it would likely mean a significant increase in cost.

The Universal Audio Volt 2’s sound

The UA Volt line promises clear high-resolution audio conversion that follows in the footsteps of the company’s industry-standard Apollo line, and the Volt 2 stacks up very well upon comparison. Compared to audio recorded with similar two-input interfaces, the Volt 2 sounds distinctly “open” in its high-frequency range with a relatively detailed midrange that doesn’t suffer from much of the obscure and “muddy” character that is often a hallmark of its price range. In these respects, the converters in the Volt 2 sound remarkably close to those in the Apollo, though I found the low mids in the Apollo converters to be slightly more nuanced and focused. While these differences are relatively minor, this effect can sometimes compound when multitracking and may create extra mixing work on the back end.

The Volt 2’s unique “vintage” feature also adds another level of creative flexibility to the equation, and it was great to have this option while traveling with limited gear. With the mode engaged, the Volt’s inputs sound distinctly analog and old-school, replacing its clean and pristine default sound with warm, round, saturated tone. The vintage mode also engages a soft clipper to flatten peaks in the input signal in a behavior similar to analog tubes, lending a character that’s particularly great for early rock and Motown-esque bass and guitar tones. While it’s probably not a one-size-fits-all sound, the vintage mode is killer for adding an extra level of character and “glue” to minimalist demo recordings and overdubs.

A “studio” in your messenger bag. Julian Vittorio

So, who should buy the Universal Audio Volt 2?

The Volt 2 features some of the clearest and most musical-sounding converters I’ve tested in its price range. If you’re in the market for a simple two-input travel interface, you’d be hard-pressed to do better. Its vintage preamp option is also incredibly versatile. It adds a distinctly pleasing “pre-mixed” analog quality to input sources, saving time on mixing and bouncing, particularly when recording demos or overdubs. I wish that the Volt 2 included ADAT or S/PDIF for adding additional inputs instead of MIDI—the tiny, forward-facing design of the Volt 2 seems at odds with everything that old and bulky MIDI gear stands for—and, unfortunately, the interface can’t run UAD plugins. Still, if you can look past these design limitations, the Universal Audio Volt 2 is an incredibly flexible and relatively affordable travel interface with the potential to deliver studio-quality recordings on the go.

Related: Best electric guitars under $500

Using The Audio In Snack

Audio is a common component of mobile apps. Audio can be used in apps in many ways. Audio can be selected from the mobile, it can be used from any online link, or can be included in the project itself as local audio. Expo-av can be used in all these cases for integrating sound into mobile apps. In this article, the React native and javascript code is shown with three different examples where in the first example, an audio file is browsed from the device. In the second example, the audio is taken from an online link and mixed with the audio of a locally stored audio file. In the third example, the playing and stopping of the audio are demonstrated.


Step 1 − Import View, Text, TouchableOpacity, StyleSheet from ‘react-native’. Also import Audio from ‘expo-av’ and DocumentPicker from ‘expo-document-picker’

Step 2 − Creation of a file(App.js).

Step 3 − Create a function selectAudioFunc. Now call the DocumentPicker.getDocumentAsync function and fetch the music file from the device.

Step 4 − Make a new function and name it as playyAudioo() and write the code to play the picked audiofile.

Step 6 − Check the results.

Example 1: Selecting audio files from the device to play. The important file used in the project is


Example import {useState} from 'react'; import { TouchableOpacity, StyleSheet,View, Text } from 'react-native'; import { Audio } from 'expo-av'; import * as DocumentPicker from 'expo-document-picker'; export default function AudioExampleOne() { var [myaudio, settAud] = useState([]); settAud( await DocumentPicker.getDocumentAsync({ type: 'audio/*', copyToCacheDirectory: true, }) ); } const myAudioSrc = myaudio.uri; const audioObj = new Audio.Sound(); audioObj.setOnPlaybackStatusUpdate(); await audioObj.loadAsync({ uri: myAudioSrc }); await audioObj.playAsync(); } return ( <TouchableOpacity } <TouchableOpacity playyAudioo() } ); } const styles = StyleSheet.create({ mainSpace: { flex: 1, backgroundColor: '#4d8b40', alignItems: 'center', justifyContent: 'center', }, BtnStyleIt: { margin: 10, width: 150, height: 150, borderRadius: 30, backgroundColor: '#aaa', alignItems: 'center', justifyContent: 'center', }, BtnTxt1: { color: '#76150A', fontSize: 20, fontWeight: "bold", textAlign: 'center' }, }); Output

The result can be seen online.

The Important file used in the project is


Example import{Component}from'react'; import{View,Text,Button,StyleSheet}from'react-native'; import{Audio}from'expo-av'; exportdefaultclassAudioExampleTwoextendsComponent{ awaitAudio.Sound.createAsync( {shouldPlay:true},);} awaitAudio.Sound.createAsync( {uri:require("./raining.mp3")}, {shouldPlay:true,isLooping:true}, );} render(){ return( <Textstyle={{ fontWeight:'bold', fontSize:30,marginBottom:20}} MixtheRainwiththeSong <Button style={{paddingTop:20}} title='OnlineSong' color='blue' onPress={this.theonlineSong} <Button style={{paddingTop:20}} title='AddtheRainSound' color='purple' onPress={this.thelocalfile} ); } } Output

The result can be seen online.

The Important file used in the project is


Example import {useState,useEffect} from 'react'; import {View, Text, Button } from 'react-native'; import { Audio } from 'expo-av'; export default function AudioExampleThree() { const [audioFlag, setaudioFlag] = useState(false) const [rain] = useState(new Audio.Sound()); console.log('Audio Flag', audioFlag) if (audioFlag) { await rain.loadAsync(require("./raining.mp3")) try { await rain.playAsync() } catch (e) { console.log(e) } } else { await rain.stopAsync() await rain.unloadAsync() } })() },[audioFlag, rain]) return ( ); } Output

The result can be seen online.

In this article, using three different examples, the ways to play audio from different sources are shown on Expo Snack. First, the method is given for choosing any audio file from the device and then playing it. Then the method of using an online audio file and mixing it with a local sound effect is demonstrated. In the last example, playing

Scandal At Danske Bank Explained

The scandal at Danske Bank has been described as one of the most significant money-laundering operations that Europe has ever witnessed. 

Years of wrongdoing were followed by years of watchdog probes and international condemnation. But this week, the saga has concluded – in the form of a vast monetary penalty and more scathing criticism from US watchdogs. 

The bank hopes to draw a final line in the sand on its most turbulent period in history. It all depends, though, on whether it can learn from its governance failures.

Quick recap

In 2023, it emerged that Danske Bank had allowed over €200 billion in suspicious transactions to move through its channels. 

The action centred on the bank’s Estonian branch (now closed). Ten former employees of that branch were arrested. Then-Danske Bank CEO Thomas Borgen resigned.

Multiple watchdogs – chiefly Danish and US authorities – have been conducting an extensive probe of the bank ever since. 

This week, the bank announced a final settlement worth over €2 billion with those authorities and accepted “full responsibility for the unacceptable failures and misconduct of the past, which have no place at Danske Bank today.”

Why is governance at the heart of this scandal?

Because anti-money laundering protocols begin at the top levels of a business. That responsibility only increases when the business in question is one of the most prominent banks in Europe. 

Principles and processes start with organisational strategy and filter down. Over the past several years, we have seen that this simply didn’t happen at Danske Bank. 

Whether Danske Bank’s strategy was inadequate or simply ignored makes no difference now; its board and the executive team failed to give proper oversight. Now they are paying the price. 

If senior leaders didn’t facilitate money laundering themselves, they ignored red flags showing that others were doing so. This, in the eyes of government watchdogs, signals culpability. New laws mean that it’s becoming harder to hide from that fact.

What has the scandal at Danske Bank shown about its governance?

At the heart of the issue was Danske Bank’s willingness to lie as part of its governance strategy. At least, that’s how US authorities see it. 

Much of the money attached to the scandal ultimately ended up moving through other banks based in the US, and because of this, Danske Bank has been accused by the US Department of Justice (DOJ) of “deceiving” these banks. 

“By at least February 2014, as a result of internal audits, information from regulators, and an internal whistleblower, Danske Bank knew that some NRP customers were engaged in highly suspicious and potentially criminal transactions,” a US Department of Justice (DOJ) statement said this week. 

“Danske Bank also knew that Danske Bank Estonia’s anti-money laundering program and procedures did not meet Danske Bank’s standards.”

So, senior leaders knew what was happening and didn’t say anything?

Yes, and also, they didn’t act sufficiently to stop wrongdoing. 

You’ll notice that the DOJ accused the bank of inaction in 2014 – in other words, three years before the scandal’s impacts began to unfold in the public realm and two years before the dirty money stopped flowing. 

No corporate governing body should allow their company to fall into such reckless law-breaking. But pivotally, no governing body should allow their company to remain in that state. Danske Bank did, and now it is paying the price.

What governance lessons can we learn from the Danske Bank debacle?

In financial institutions, boards and executive teams have a crucial duty to ensure sufficient anti-money laundering (AML) controls. Watchdogs are as eager as ever to uncover such wrongdoing and turn it into an international example. 

Corporate leaders must respect and act on internal audits, especially when they raise red flags. 

Action and inaction bring similar consequences. Whether a board facilitates laundering or stands by while it occurs, the responsibility falls on their shoulders.

Look at the UK as an example of toughing legislation. A proposed law there specifically suggests jail time for directors if their company facilitates financial crime.

In summary

The scandal at Danske Bank is one of the biggest money laundering cases ever uncovered. Lawmakers have blasted it and vowed harsh responses should it ever happen again. 

Boards and executives in financial institutions should pay close attention to this and their companies’ channels. 

If those channels are being used to move dirty money, expect a fallout.

Excel Vlookup – Sorted List Explained

In my previous Excel VLOOKUP formula tutorial I mentioned that there are two ways you can use a VLOOKUP but most people know one way or the other, and only a few know both.

As promised here’s the second way to use it, and I call it the Sorted List version as it relies on the data in the table you are referencing being sorted.

Note: If you haven’t read the first tutorial, then I recommend you first watch the video below from the beginning to get an understanding of how VLOOKUP works.

Excel VLOOKUP Formula Video Tutorial

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First let’s set the scene:

In the image below we want to lookup the Commission Rates table in cells G6:I13, and find the rate in column I based on the sales values in column D, and return the result to column E.

Excel VLOOKUP Function syntax:









And to translate it into English it would read:


find this value


in that table


return the value in the nth column of the table


find an exact match if you can, but if not, find the next lowest match


Note: with the Sorted List version we want Excel to find the next closest option in our table, i.e. an approximate match. To specify this we can leave the ‘range_lookup’ argument blank, or enter TRUE, or 1.

Excel VLOOKUP approximate match formula example:

Remember we want Excel to find the Commission % Rate and enter it in cell E6, so in English our formula will read:


find where the Sales amount $3,112


falls in the Commission Rates table G6:I13


return the value in column 3 of the table


if there isn't an exact match, find the next closest value











Let me clarify some points:

1)      ‘find where Sales amount $3,112, falls in the Commission Rates table’ – Excel doesn’t actually take into consideration column H in our table. I have simply put it there to help understand the commission ranges. Excel is in fact looking for the exact amount $3,112 in our Commission Rates table, and when it can’t find it, it finds the next best lower amount and returns the value in column 3.

3)      If we had consecutive duplicates in our Commission Rates table Excel will find the last instance of the value and return the result in column 3.  For example, if instead of the amount $4001 in cell G11, you had $3001 again.  Excel would return the value of 6% as it’s finding the last best match for our amount.  The tip here is to remove any duplicates or you’ll end up with erroneous results.

4)      Unlike the VLOOKUP Exact Match version of the formula, this version requires the list to be sorted in ascending order. Just like with duplicates explained above, if it’s not sorted you will end up with erroneous results.

You’ll notice in the formula bar above there are ‘$’ signs around the reference to the table. This is called an absolute reference and it allows us to copy the formula down column E without Excel dynamically updating the table range as we copy. 

Want More?

Check out my previous tutorial for VLOOKUP Rules & Common Mistakes!

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