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Measurable aspects of sound perception

pozz

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#1
This thread is started for @PeterZui

Psychoacoustic research as such goes back across history, back when it was intimately entwined with acoustics as a whole and practical anatomy rather than being seen a discipline of its own, which happened only in the 20th century.

The major question is how do we hear what we hear and what aspects are measurable. So much work has been done, especially recently, that it's hard to think of an area which hasn't received empirical study with some corresponding numerical data. Much of the work was done either in the medical or engineering fields to define practical requirements for diagnosis or design.

@PeterZui please reply with those aspects of perception you're interested in to open a discussion.
 
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#2
Hi pozz, thx for this initiative. I will only post some info and statements though.

35 years ago I graduated MSc in electrical engineering with audio and music listening as a hobby. Did not search for a job in audio engineering as at that time I couldn't find a clear relation between EM measurements and the audio quality I perceived so how to design ?? My insights of today are no different and added that our perception is based on quantum mechanics. Therefore difficult to predict and very difficult to measure because we don't even now how a perception is processed and created in our brain. With our two ears and our brain (=CPU) we can immediately locate the position and distance a sound is coming from. I do not know of a system with two mic's and a computer that can do the same!! I viewed an interesting lecture of Rob Watts that very important information for perception might be on a level of -180 dB or lower............
Anyway, as all individuals have their unique personality, they also have their own brain with it's own perception.
Some individuals will perceive a difference in sound quality between equipment and cabling, some others might not because their brains are not trained or they are not interested.
From my experience almost every change in an audio set-up is audible.......

Some Statements:
No-one can argue that a change in an audio set-up is not audible for someone else.
Listening experiences of individuals are very valuable as it tells something about the perceptions that could be found and shared.
Measurements are needed for quality control but will not give a definite clue on sound quality. (f.e. B&W selects the capacitors in their speaker design based on listening tests while the measuring gives no clue)
The most important measurement system for the quality of audio-equipment, food, wine, video-equipment etc. is our individual brain

The aspects of perception I'm really interested in are the holographic soundstages as can be found on many recordings. It opens up the music, instruments are easy to follow, all sounds with ease. From my experience these can only be reproduced by a very sophisticated source (switch, ethernet cabling, renderer incl. PSU's).
If anyone has the same, contrary, or additional experiences, please share.......
 

Blumlein 88

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#4
Hi pozz, thx for this initiative. I will only post some info and statements though.

35 years ago I graduated MSc in electrical engineering with audio and music listening as a hobby. Did not search for a job in audio engineering as at that time I couldn't find a clear relation between EM measurements and the audio quality I perceived so how to design ?? My insights of today are no different and added that our perception is based on quantum mechanics. Therefore difficult to predict and very difficult to measure because we don't even now how a perception is processed and created in our brain. With our two ears and our brain (=CPU) we can immediately locate the position and distance a sound is coming from. I do not know of a system with two mic's and a computer that can do the same!! I viewed an interesting lecture of Rob Watts that very important information for perception might be on a level of -180 dB or lower............
Anyway, as all individuals have their unique personality, they also have their own brain with it's own perception.
Some individuals will perceive a difference in sound quality between equipment and cabling, some others might not because their brains are not trained or they are not interested.
From my experience almost every change in an audio set-up is audible.......

Some Statements:
No-one can argue that a change in an audio set-up is not audible for someone else.
Listening experiences of individuals are very valuable as it tells something about the perceptions that could be found and shared.
Measurements are needed for quality control but will not give a definite clue on sound quality. (f.e. B&W selects the capacitors in their speaker design based on listening tests while the measuring gives no clue)
The most important measurement system for the quality of audio-equipment, food, wine, video-equipment etc. is our individual brain

The aspects of perception I'm really interested in are the holographic soundstages as can be found on many recordings. It opens up the music, instruments are easy to follow, all sounds with ease. From my experience these can only be reproduced by a very sophisticated source (switch, ethernet cabling, renderer incl. PSU's).
If anyone has the same, contrary, or additional experiences, please share.......
Uh-uh..............
 

scott wurcer

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#5
From my experience these can only be reproduced by a very sophisticated source (switch, ethernet cabling, renderer incl. PSU's).
If anyone has the same, contrary, or additional experiences, please share.......
Not much mileage here discussing the "sound" of ethernet switches and CAT5 cables.
 

pozz

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#8
Hi pozz, thx for this initiative. I will only post some info and statements though.

35 years ago I graduated MSc in electrical engineering with audio and music listening as a hobby. Did not search for a job in audio engineering as at that time I couldn't find a clear relation between EM measurements and the audio quality I perceived so how to design ?? My insights of today are no different and added that our perception is based on quantum mechanics. Therefore difficult to predict and very difficult to measure because we don't even now how a perception is processed and created in our brain. With our two ears and our brain (=CPU) we can immediately locate the position and distance a sound is coming from. I do not know of a system with two mic's and a computer that can do the same!! I viewed an interesting lecture of Rob Watts that very important information for perception might be on a level of -180 dB or lower............
Anyway, as all individuals have their unique personality, they also have their own brain with it's own perception.
Some individuals will perceive a difference in sound quality between equipment and cabling, some others might not because their brains are not trained or they are not interested.
From my experience almost every change in an audio set-up is audible.......

Some Statements:
No-one can argue that a change in an audio set-up is not audible for someone else.
Listening experiences of individuals are very valuable as it tells something about the perceptions that could be found and shared.
Measurements are needed for quality control but will not give a definite clue on sound quality. (f.e. B&W selects the capacitors in their speaker design based on listening tests while the measuring gives no clue)
The most important measurement system for the quality of audio-equipment, food, wine, video-equipment etc. is our individual brain

The aspects of perception I'm really interested in are the holographic soundstages as can be found on many recordings. It opens up the music, instruments are easy to follow, all sounds with ease. From my experience these can only be reproduced by a very sophisticated source (switch, ethernet cabling, renderer incl. PSU's).
If anyone has the same, contrary, or additional experiences, please share.......
Thanks for posting. Are you familiar with Jens Blauert? He's one of the main experts on spatial hearing and localization. He founded the Institute of Communication Acoustics in Germany. He gave this recent lecture: (2017) Jens Blauert - Reading the World with Two Ears. The general gist of it is that there is an immense complex process involved in "hearing" and we know all the stages, perhaps not perfectly, but we do. His basic thesis is that we have understood enough about each stage (which he briefly sketches during the talk) that we can build simulations allowing robots to navigate environments and localize objects using acoustical information alone. This is not a detailed talk, so it won't answer everything in an easy-to-digest way. It does however show you what's been accomplished in the sciences.

Your points about individual perception, cables, and other audio paraphernalia unfortunately have no basis in science in general or psychoacoustics in particular. We can discuss this further if you like.
 

LTig

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#9
[..]My insights of today are no different and added that our perception is based on quantum mechanics.
At the end of the day everything is based on quantum mechanics, so this not new.
Therefore difficult to predict and very difficult to measure because we don't even now how a perception is processed and created in our brain.
There are tons and tons of papers written about human hearing sense and perception based on scientific research. One just has to read it.
[..] I viewed an interesting lecture of Rob Watts that very important information for perception might be on a level of -180 dB or lower............
This is quite contrary to the findings of scientifc research. The Fletcher & Munson curves stop somewhere at -120 dB below pain level.
Anyway, as all individuals have their unique personality, they also have their own brain with it's own perception.
Some individuals will perceive a difference in sound quality between equipment and cabling, some others might not because their brains are not trained or they are not interested.
From my experience almost every change in an audio set-up is audible.......
Absolutely true as long as the one doing the audition knows that something has changed. Remove this knowledge and allmost all differences strangely disappear ...
Some Statements:
No-one can argue that a change in an audio set-up is not audible for someone else.
Listening experiences of individuals are very valuable as it tells something about the perceptions that could be found and shared.
Absolutely correct provided standard scientific controls are performed (DBT).
Measurements are needed for quality control but will not give a definite clue on sound quality. (f.e. B&W selects the capacitors in their speaker design based on listening tests while the measuring gives no clue)
AFAIK everything which can be heard can also be measured. @amirm's AP555 can measure such low levels of signals no human can ever hear.
The most important measurement system for the quality of audio-equipment, food, wine, video-equipment etc. is our individual brain
It is very important because it's the only one we humans have to experience it. Unfortunately it's also very unreliable regarding sound (very bad long term memory, strong influence of other senses and previous knowledge).
The aspects of perception I'm really interested in are the holographic soundstages as can be found on many recordings. It opens up the music, instruments are easy to follow, all sounds with ease. From my experience these can only be reproduced by a very sophisticated source (switch, ethernet cabling, renderer incl. PSU's).
If anyone has the same, contrary, or additional experiences, please share.......
Audiophile ethernet switches and cables are snake oil. See some measurements done here. Same is true for power cables and allmost all audiophile cables.

Remember that the signals of those recordings with holographic soundstage have passed tens or hundreds of amplifier and processing stages with standard solid state opamps, ADC's, DAC's, audio and power cables. There is no logical evidence that the last meter of audio and power cable or a specific super audiophile amplifier somehow restores hidden attributes of the sound which surely must have got lost on the way to the customer if we shall believe the snake oil makers. Logic tells us that those hidden attributes cannot exist in the first place.
 

solderdude

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#10
our brain (=CPU) we can immediately locate the position and distance a sound is coming from. I do not know of a system with two mic's and a computer that can do the same!!
The brain does not work like a CPU and don't think they are remotely comparable. This is the reason why even with a HATS this cannot be done as instant. The whole inner + outer ear structure also isn't anywhere similar to a microphone nor is the 'signals' coming from it.
So agreed electronics and mechanical/electrical devices are not similar. They also are not supposed to be.
The idea is to capture soundwaves and reproduce them as close as possible to what originally was recorded by the microphones.
In the vast majority of recordings mic position/room/type determine what electrical signal is generated and in the studio with their equipment, speakers/room/listening distance, insight and preference a product is created that may have some resemblance to the original sound only.
Some sound engineers are better at it than others. Consider most directional info and accuracy is lost in this process.
Reproducing it is the next hurdle.
It is surprising so many well made recordings still sound surprisingly good. I blame the hearing for this and think it is rather easily fooled.

I viewed an interesting lecture of Rob Watts that very important information for perception might be on a level of -180 dB or lower............
Yes we viewed that too. Has he ever demonstrated his special ability ? How can one reproduce a -180 dB signal in reality. There simply is no DAC nor amp capable to even remotely come near to this. Let's not question if his abilities are what he claims to be but let's just say he has an iron in the fire.

Anyway, as all individuals have their unique personality, they also have their own brain with it's own perception.
Yes.. absolutely correct on this one.

Some individuals will perceive a difference in sound quality between equipment and cabling, some others might not because their brains are not trained or they are not interested.
From my experience almost every change in an audio set-up is audible.......
Between equipment yes, certainly there will be audible differences between equipment. This is quite measurable as well.
And indeed when you have done some audibility tests and for the sake of testing let some other folks (interested friends, kids or the unsuspecting wife) take the same test on the same equipment they will all have different 'borders'. Experience and interest in this also helps.

However, that doesn't mean that what some people claim to hear is always correct. I have witnessed people that I, them not knowing, tested at their own homes with their own ears and familiar music and pretending to swap cables or swapping them and telling I did not swap them heard great sonic improvements when they were told or believed they were swapped when in reality they weren't or were.

My question to you is HOW do you know with 100% certainty that what some people claim to hear (when it is impossible because nothing changed) are really 'hearing' that well ?

IME experience the knowing what changed or is actually playing part is impossible to disconnect from sound impressions, as are loudness differences which has been measured to happen at shows where cable vendors are selling their dreams.


No-one can argue that a change in an audio set-up is not audible for someone else.
Correct and would like to add that unless that change is done blind to the listener the changes he heard might not come from the actual change itself and should be tested properly. Even in the event that the technical differences are that big that it is obvious to everyone attending. It may be as simple as a level difference.

Listening experiences of individuals are very valuable as it tells something about the perceptions that could be found and shared.
I would agree to that but would include the condition that he either says they are his personal findings and not the absolute truth (just his truth) or that the listening experiences were obtained by scientifically and controlled blind tests mentioning all the controls.

Consider that about 99% of peoples experiences do not have had any proper controls and thus may or may very well not be real and could exist in their minds or due to accuracy errors in their 'testing'.
This is why in most cases, people claiming they heard something, especially when so glaringly obvious that blind testing is not even needed, are greeted with 'uh-huh' or asked for the actual blind test results or are asked about their controls.
The most obvious control is... did you know what was playing. Most folks on ASR realize that controls are needed if one really wants to know.

The most important measurement system for the quality of audio-equipment, food, wine, video-equipment etc. is our individual brain
In the end you are correct. It is also the easiest to manipulate and fallible test equipment. Taste can be fooled easily, eyes can be fooled easily, touch can be fooled easily, we can experience the exact same thing differently under different circumstances.
Consider the ears are just as easily fooled.. well not the ears. In all cases its the brain that interprets things differently.

A simple test is.. listen to some music during the day in a TL lit room, change nothing, wait till the evening and give your ears some rest and listen again with some warm (candle light or warm subdued light) and then tell me how different the exact same system sounds.
Ah... yeah must be the mains pollution being less during the evening... test again in both cases from a from mains disconnected UPS.

Nope... you simply cannot trust any 'reviews' by people even when they are 100% sure. There might be cases where they hear a change correctly but if I would let my life depend on it I would not trust ANY 'report' where people knew what was being changed. Period.
 
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#11
Many thx for all reactions.
Glad to read everyone has his own and different opinions and daring to post..!
I am convinced that every-one just stated his or her own truth but I dare say I don't agree with most of them.

This should be no problem;
Truth is individual calculation which means because we all have a different perspective, there isn't one singular truth is there ? (*)

Don't think we can convince the Donald Trump clan to vote Democrats and visa versa.
Much the opposite; We like to hear and read things that strengthen our opinion and justify our choice even more.

Therefore I leave all replies for what they are; the truths of the different, and to be respected, individuals.

Brings me back to for me more important matters;
Anyone who like to share his experiences seeking for holographic soundstages in his home-setup ?
 

solderdude

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#12
Glad to read everyone has his own and different opinions and daring to post..!
I am convinced that every-one just stated his or her own truth but I dare say I don't agree with most of them.
There are only 3 people (LTig, pozz and me) who raised points you obviously don't agree with.
Instead of telling you don't agree and every one has their own truth why don't you address the raised points and tell why you find them not valid.
This way one can have a discussion instead of only you telling your side and disagreeing with others.

Your truth also is just that.. some things can be proven by certain test methods as well. What's wrong with those methods and why ?
 
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#13
Hi solderdude,

Think everyone had the chance to tell their opinion also and disagreeing and that's fine for me. For a thorough exchange of arguments that our opinion is based on, we better sit an evening together........ But what is the point ?

You think that some things can be proven by certain test methods.
You will only be convinced of the outcome if you first trust the certain test method but on what base ?
Again it is your brain with all it's experience and perspective that tells you whether the test method is trustworthy.

I doubted the effect of ethernet cabling and switches for a long time. Around six years ago getting one ethernet cable to try from my local dealer and experiencing it for a week in my home-setup with extensive listening had me convinced. I believe it gives a significant improvement in my audio-setup including my hearing system.
And indeed, enjoy the music more during a quiet evening but the music I play then is different. It's again the brain that makes the choices; Nothing wrong with that I think...........
 

solderdude

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#14
For the sake of argument. When testing or listening to something you always know what is playing and how it is connected ?

You think that some things can be proven by certain test methods.
Yes.

You will only be convinced of the outcome if you first trust the certain test method but on what base ?
On the base that the knowing part is removed and certain controls are in place leaving only the human hearing and change in setup as the only variables.

Again it is your brain with all it's experience and perspective that tells you whether the test method is trustworthy.
Reasoning, experience and test results tell whether the test method is trustworthy.
Not my wishfull thinking.

For a thorough exchange of arguments that our opinion is based on, we better sit an evening together........ But what is the point ?
Been there, I have even proven on 2 occasions the persons in question making claims (was about silver cable sounding brighter which is technically impossible) was clearly and without a shadow of a doubt proven he was not able to tell yet till this day he still claims he can hear it.

It took quite a lot of testing and finding out why certain tests lead to incorrect results myself. Even today I am still put on the wrong leg now and then until I eliminate the knowing part. And if I still find differences there is a good reason for it and is always measurable.
 
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Hipper

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#15
Thanks for posting. Are you familiar with Jens Blauert? He's one of the main experts on spatial hearing and localization. He founded the Institute of Communication Acoustics in Germany. He gave this recent lecture: (2017) Jens Blauert - Reading the World with Two Ears. The general gist of it is that there is an immense complex process involved in "hearing" and we know all the stages, perhaps not perfectly, but we do. His basic thesis is that we have understood enough about each stage (which he briefly sketches during the talk) that we can build simulations allowing robots to navigate environments and localize objects using acoustical information alone. This is not a detailed talk, so it won't answer everything in an easy-to-digest way. It does however show you what's been accomplished in the sciences.

Your points about individual perception, cables, and other audio paraphernalia unfortunately have no basis in science in general or psychoacoustics in particular. We can discuss this further if you like.
Thanks for the link to the Blauert lecture. It feels to me (in my ignorance) that he sums it all up very nicely by saying that there are four stages of listening and each one has a way of being measured - 22.40 onwards in the lecture.

I don't pretend to understand all of it - I've no idea what the measuring tools are for the first two stages - but it seems to make sense. I presume the third stage is something akin to using Room EQ Wizard whilst the fourth is the sort of testing Floyd Toole has done.

I have to say though that, as has been mentioned, there are so many individual variables that I can only see an approximation of how we listen being arrived at. We see this, do we not, in the equal loudness contours and I guess the precedence effect for example.
 

pozz

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#16
Again it is your brain with all it's experience and perspective that tells you whether the test method is trustworthy.
This is true, but there is so much else that you can rely on. I don't quite get why, being an EE, you don't associate the mathematics of electromechanical coupling, where electrical relationships are sufficient to describe mechanical ones and vice versa, to that chain of events that begins with electrical signals, passes through acoustics and ends in psychoacoustics/perception.
I have to say though that, as has been mentioned, there are so many individual variables that I can only see an approximation of how we listen being arrived at. We see this, do we not, in the equal loudness contours and I guess the precedence effect for example.
Yes, absolutely. The equal loudness contours represent a map of hearing in which you can place your experience, as the precedence effect describes the mechanism of localization (which is the basis for soundstage).

Using a term from psychology, Blauert calls the experience of listening a "gestalt" (a pattern/configuration), in the sense that it is an aggregate of individual anatomic/acoustic occurrences. A thought I've been having recently is that, in the same way, the measurements made by an audio analyzer are equally a gestalt: the entire layout of individual electrical components produces a signal whose behaviour can be characterized in numerical relationships. I don't really get why it's said that electrical measurements of gear are insufficient to describe what you hear—of course they are, if your sense of perspective is small and your unable to give a measured result its due context.
 
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#18
I am getting flicker-fusion from this thread
Hi Wes, I can feel with you as I was asked to initiate something and it caused a lot of statements that are all truths in the brains of the individuals that wrote them.

What we can conclude based on the amount of reactions:
We all want to preach and convince each other of our own truth.

I'll take another chance myself:
Solderdude f.e. still does not believe that an other person says he can hear a difference in cabling because solderdude's truth says it is technically impossible. In my experience different cabling makes a important difference in audio quality (call it perception).
From a technical perspective the Electro-Magnetic waves propagation through the cabling and it's reflections on both ends will differ with other conductive materials, other isolation materials and other geometry.
So from my perspective there IS technically a BIG difference between two cables !

Only remaining questions are (for the audiophiles that is):
do you want to hear it ?
do you try to hear it ?
do you hear it ?
can you convince yourself there is a difference ?

I can answer all questions with yes so it's my conviction.
 

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#19
Those afflicted with psychiatric delusional disorders are self-confident about their obviously non-rational experiences. It doesn't mean those experiences relate to reality.

Personal truth is just another opinion unless it can be validated as factual.

Perception relates more to how something seems to be. Don't assume that is necessarily the same as how something is. There is a mind interspersed between those two states.

Re the cables. You don't understand physics enough.
 
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Darkweb

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#20
Many thx for all reactions.
Glad to read everyone has his own and different opinions and daring to post..!
I am convinced that every-one just stated his or her own truth but I dare say I don't agree with most of them.

This should be no problem;
Truth is individual calculation which means because we all have a different perspective, there isn't one singular truth is there ? (*)

Don't think we can convince the Donald Trump clan to vote Democrats and visa versa.
Much the opposite; We like to hear and read things that strengthen our opinion and justify our choice even more.

Therefore I leave all replies for what they are; the truths of the different, and to be respected, individuals.

Brings me back to for me more important matters;
Anyone who like to share his experiences seeking for holographic soundstages in his home-setup ?
I’d say step one of achieving a holographic soundstage is moving your speakers well off the front wall.

Yet if you ever click on one of the “show your system pics!” on one of these forums the vast majority of people will have their speakers 6 inches or less away from the front wall.

It’s important to keep this in mind because these people likely have never heard a system “disappear” in the room and leave you with a real holographic performance of a recording. They have no frame of reference.

I know I was gobsmacked the first time I heard some large and very expensive Sonus Faber speakers throwing off a massive and holographic soundstage behind the loudspeakers.
 

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