• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). Come here to have fun, be ready to be teased and not take online life too seriously. We now measure and review equipment for free! Click here for details.

Role of the "Mind" in subjective audio evaluation???

March Audio

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,918
Likes
3,752
Location
Perth Western Australia
All the mic has to do is capture enough of the acoustic information that existed in the space, and for the replay system to pass it on with the least corruption possible - and then, yes, those "intelligent" ears are capable of "understanding" what it means - think of the chain from microphone to speakers being equivalent to the timeshift capability of a video recorder: a well sorted video clip shifter will produce a "perfect" replica for the eyes; a dodgy VHS mechanism with worn out tape will be almost impossible to stomach ...
FAS, this is simply not the case and is hopelessly simplistic. Microphones DO NOT work like human ears. Recordings (vast majority) are not made how you probably imagine. You have a fundamental misunderstanding and are deluding yourself with this. Speakers "disappearing" is just an acoustic illusion and not an indication of anything.

Did you try the experiment I suggested earlier, where you change the acoustics of your room and the "spaciousness" and central image of the sound?
 
Last edited:

March Audio

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,918
Likes
3,752
Location
Perth Western Australia
How would you know if your replay system is accurate based on just the speakers disappearing? I have a simple digital device that will create a custom stereo effect of my choosing, making the sound stage as wide or as narrow as I want. Speakers disappear... but I'm obviously distorting the originally recorded sound. What you are describing as speakers disappearing is a necessary (perhaps) but, certainly not a sufficient condition for accurate sound reproduction.
Q sound anyone? :)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QSound
 

tomelex

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Feb 29, 2016
Messages
759
Likes
276
Location
So called Midwest, USA
The role of the mind, well, the mind is working off of inputs from the ears and the eyes and touch/feel.

So, I am at a gig with a couple guitars and drummer playing, Irish band. I am not quite in the center of the audience, and I look toward the drummer and I hear the drum coming from his set. Then, I close my eyes, now all the sudden the drum set has moved to my right, yes, wall bounce, with only ears inputs the drummer is to my right, open my eyes and the sound of the drum pops back in where my eyes see him.

Another comment about stereo, say you are middle role, middle aisle, in a music hall. Your ears are getting information from all over the place, the ceiling, the walls, the front of the stage, off of people and objects, so, like you are getting a HUGE amount of information. Now, go home an listen on your two single point stereo speakers,,,,,,what are we getting here now, maybe what 1% of the information? Not that your mind can not identify instrument patterns, that still works, but realism to the actual event, no way.

but I know I am preaching to the choir here. Well, except for maybe one person..
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
But failing to locate the speakers (in this hypothetical test) doesn't mean that it was a convincing audio scene. As I mentioned earlier, silent speakers or those emitting a continuous low tone would also meet the criterion of not signalling their presence.
IME they correlate - "invisible speakers" => "convincing audio scene". I have heard extremely satisfying audio from a system where the speakers weren't invisible, but not the other way round.

Any testing would have to use highly conventional recordings - no special tones tracks, just to prove a point.
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
How would you know if your replay system is accurate based on just the speakers disappearing? I have a simple digital device that will create a custom stereo effect of my choosing, making the sound stage as wide or as narrow as I want. Speakers disappear... but I'm obviously distorting the originally recorded sound. What you are describing as speakers disappearing is a necessary (perhaps) but, certainly not a sufficient condition for accurate sound reproduction.
The sound reproduction may still not be accurate in terms of FR, or similar measures - but subjectively it has attained a required standard - which likely will vary, person to person. It is an illusion, undoubtedly - but a highly satisfying one.
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
FAS, this is simply not the case and is hopelessly simplistic. Microphones DO NOT work like human ears. Recordings (vast majority) are not made how you probably imagine. You have a fundamental misunderstanding and are deluding yourself with this. Speakers "disappearing" is just an acoustic illusion and not an indication of anything.

Did you try the experiment I suggested earlier, where you change the acoustics of your room and the "spaciousness" and central image of the sound?
I'm sure that my mind is deluding me, and that it is an acoustic illusion ... but, it works! Recordings which are made up of a number of recording spaces, built as such by the mastering engineers, sound exactly like that - Phantom of the Opera is a classic in this sense; I can hear that the male lead is in a tiny recording booth, right between the two speakers - and that the orchestra is waaaay behind the wall, beyond the speakers - completely "unnatural", miles from the stage presentation - but it still works because the qualities of each sound making component are fully intact.

Sorry, my system isn't in working order at the moment - life gets in the way! - something to try down the track ...
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
Another comment about stereo, say you are middle role, middle aisle, in a music hall. Your ears are getting information from all over the place, the ceiling, the walls, the front of the stage, off of people and objects, so, like you are getting a HUGE amount of information. Now, go home an listen on your two single point stereo speakers,,,,,,what are we getting here now, maybe what 1% of the information? Not that your mind can not identify instrument patterns, that still works, but realism to the actual event, no way.

but I know I am preaching to the choir here. Well, except for maybe one person..
In what sense are you getting a "HUGE amount"? The direct sound, plus echos - something that a microphone will pick up, easily. Usually the replay system will blur that echo information to the point where it doesn't make sense, and the mind rejects it as being meaningful - but lift the standard of the reproduction, and then all that echo data comes through loud and clear, to the mind. This is the "transformation" that occurs in the listening, when the effort is made to get the standard good enough.
 

NorthSky

Major Contributor
Joined
Feb 28, 2016
Messages
4,999
Likes
459
Location
Canada West Coast/Vancouver Island/Victoria area
QSound is a fantastic audio sensorial pleasure. It's like multichannel surround sound (wide soundstage) but using only two stereo speakers.
A wider 3D-spatial dimension for the hearing; like a visual 3D moving picture for the eying.

I would like to see ultra high resolution audio (384/32) impregnated (encoded) with QSound.
It would be like 4K UHD in 3D. And best of all we don't need new and more speakers. It's like upgrading the stereo speakers we already have @ home through more advanced music recordings.

* When 4K UHD (new video standards for Blu-ray) came into effect not that long ago, you need a new 4K TV, a new 4K BR player, a new 4K HDMI cable, a new 4K pre/pro (receiver). Brief you need a complete new set of 4K gear. ...And of course more speakers and subwoofers (7.4.4). ...Seven floor satellite speakers, four subwoofers (one in each corner), and four overhead speakers (ceiling).

But with QSound you need nothing. It can put sounds @ the sides, behind, and even above and below. ...With only two speakers and someone talented behind the recording/mixing audio console (experienced audio encoding engineer).

The mind simply follows its own natural role; being engulfed in its music surrounding from multiple provenances.
Sure, someone who listened his entire life (70 years) to stereo LPs (vinyls) might not get acquainted rapidly with enthusiasm @ first, but before he dies and goes to the heavens he might share some with his friends above (flying peacefully on smooth white cotton clouds).

I love QSound and I am all for further developments/advancements for the pleasurable benefit of music lovers all across the universe.
I think it can stop wars and create more peace where it is needed the most.

Hey, it's the long Labor Day weekend... Music is good for all circumstances, QSound included.
 

Cosmik

Major Contributor
Joined
Apr 24, 2016
Messages
2,970
Likes
1,800
Location
UK
IME they correlate - "invisible speakers" => "convincing audio scene". I have heard extremely satisfying audio from a system where the speakers weren't invisible, but not the other way round.

Any testing would have to use highly conventional recordings - no special tones tracks, just to prove a point.
It's what I was saying in another thread: without objective measurements or specifications, there is nothing: no science, nothing that can be demonstrated or proved, nothing that can be written in a text book or taught on a course, nothing that can be repeated by anyone else. You are talking about the contents of your head and there is no information to pass on except your description of it.

I am happy to meet your challenge: simply unplug the speakers in order to make them disappear. Or, as described above, fiddle around with the phase, or attach multiple transducers to plasterboard walls, etc. We can ensure that the sound is terrible while, at the same time, meeting the challenge.

The only way you can get around that is if you start adding objective conditions: only two speakers; playback of recording at a level of ...dB; less than ...% THD; greater than ...dB SNR; frequency response flat within ...dB between ...Hz - ... kHz; phase accuracy of better than ...degrees; timing accuracy of better than ...us; dispersion consistency better than..., etc. But you have no definite idea of what figures to fill in, so you would simply end up describing a standard hi-fi system. But those specifications have got holes in them (e.g. they refer to steady state waveforms, not music) and so the mischievous person could still continue to meet your challenge while ensuring that the sound is terrible.

Even if your claim was true, without being able to document what is necessary to achieve it it may as well not exist.
 

March Audio

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,918
Likes
3,752
Location
Perth Western Australia
In what sense are you getting a "HUGE amount"? The direct sound, plus echos - something that a microphone will pick up, easily. Usually the replay system will blur that echo information to the point where it doesn't make sense, and the mind rejects it as being meaningful - but lift the standard of the reproduction, and then all that echo data comes through loud and clear, to the mind. This is the "transformation" that occurs in the listening, when the effort is made to get the standard good enough.
Yes and that is precisely the problem. No standard of replay system can sort that out and nor can your mind.

Can I ask Frank, what is your idea of how recordings are miked up? Do you think they are normally just two mics place in front of the musician? Do you understand the different characteristics of omni and cardiod mics? Do understand how and why they are placed and sound different?
 

March Audio

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,918
Likes
3,752
Location
Perth Western Australia
I'm sure that my mind is deluding me, and that it is an acoustic illusion ... but, it works! Recordings which are made up of a number of recording spaces, built as such by the mastering engineers, sound exactly like that - Phantom of the Opera is a classic in this sense; I can hear that the male lead is in a tiny recording booth, right between the two speakers - and that the orchestra is waaaay behind the wall, beyond the speakers - completely "unnatural", miles from the stage presentation - but it still works because the qualities of each sound making component are fully intact.

Sorry, my system isn't in working order at the moment - life gets in the way! - something to try down the track ...
Well thats a more constrained and realistic version of what you have been saying up to now, but still all your point really is getting at is that a better system might reproduce a more delineated sound stage. Note I didnt say "real". Well......no shit Sherlock.

Note your example perfectly demonstrates a recording that has been made with multiple mics in different acoustic environments and mixed and manipulated.

Regarding the acoustic test I suggested, I will tell you what happens. Low level of absorption at the first reflection point will lead to a more "spacious" sound. Add lots of absorption and you will find the image centralise considerably more. Its all a trick :)
 
Last edited:

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
I am happy to meet your challenge: simply unplug the speakers in order to make them disappear. Or, as described above, fiddle around with the phase, or attach multiple transducers to plasterboard walls, etc. We can ensure that the sound is terrible while, at the same time, meeting the challenge.

The only way you can get around that is if you start adding objective conditions: only two speakers; playback of recording at a level of ...dB; less than ...% THD; greater than ...dB SNR; frequency response flat within ...dB between ...Hz - ... kHz; phase accuracy of better than ...degrees; timing accuracy of better than ...us; dispersion consistency better than..., etc. But you have no definite idea of what figures to fill in, so you would simply end up describing a standard hi-fi system. But those specifications have got holes in them (e.g. they refer to steady state waveforms, not music) and so the mischievous person could still continue to meet your challenge while ensuring that the sound is terrible.

Even if your claim was true, without being able to document what is necessary to achieve it it may as well not exist.
The "challenge" is nothing more than a marker for oneself that the system is working to a certain standard, playing the recordings one would normally enjoy listening to.

It's very hard to document what is needed, because it will vary per system. Stated simply, it requires modifying or improving the system every time one becomes aware of a deficiency in its behaviour - rather than accepting that some audible anomaly is locked in, can't be got rid of. That's exactly the process I used first time to deliver the invisibility, and ever since it's just been a refinement of that approach.

In a different field, I've got a slightly noisy car at the moment - there is too much road roar, and there are a couple of subtle, irritating rattles. Step by step, I'm investigating what is causing, underlying that disturbing sound - solution, damp some resonant panels, seal some gaps where sound can filter through, work out what's rattling and stabilise that. I use precisely the same mindset with an audio rig - replace "road noise and rattles", with "audible anomalies".

Is your car super, super quiet, in all road conditions, driven in any manner. If not, why? :p
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
Well thats a more constrained and realistic version of what you have been saying up to now, but still all your point really is getting at is that a better system might reproduce a more delineated sound stage. Note I didnt say "real". Well......no shit Sherlock.

Note your example perfectly demonstrates a recording that has been made with multiple mics in different acoustic environments and mixed and manipulated.
:)
The "realness" comes into it, because each of the individual acoustic mini environments has full integrity in itself. There have been those docos on famous pop recordings, where they run the multi-track tape through, and the creator mutes all but one, and you hear precisely what the bass line is doing, or how the vocals have been overdubbed. That's the subjective get when listening - but it's as if you were at that recording environment when that one part was being captured.

One of my earliest test CDs was of Status Quo hits, because it was such a severe challenge - I ask, what you think of the cymbals? On a high percentage of systems, the reply is, "Cymbals? Are there cymbals there?!"; on something reasonably good, there is this strange white hissing, background filler; better again, the drumkit begins to emerge as a visible feature, and one can tell what the drummer is doing, throughout. At the top of the tree, the drummer exists in the room as if for real, and the cymbal tones are perfectly realised. This is the progression as a system gains competence, leading to a subjective impression of "realness".
 

March Audio

Major Contributor
Manufacturer
Patreon Donor
Joined
Mar 1, 2016
Messages
3,918
Likes
3,752
Location
Perth Western Australia
What are you talking about Frank?

Each individual acoustic environment has integrity
???

I have no idea what you are talking about.

All you are saying is the better the system the better it sounds , with zero qualification or quantification.
 
Last edited:

tomelex

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Feb 29, 2016
Messages
759
Likes
276
Location
So called Midwest, USA
In what sense are you getting a "HUGE amount"? The direct sound, plus echos - something that a microphone will pick up, easily. Usually the replay system will blur that echo information to the point where it doesn't make sense, and the mind rejects it as being meaningful - but lift the standard of the reproduction, and then all that echo data comes through loud and clear, to the mind. This is the "transformation" that occurs in the listening, when the effort is made to get the standard good enough.
You have to re-read the post Fas42. Hint, in a live situation I outlined, sound comes from every direction, not from two point source speakers, get it ?:D
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
You have to re-read the post Fas42. Hint, in a live situation I outlined, sound comes from every direction, not from two point source speakers, get it ?:D
Yes, indeed it does. And when it emerges it contains some of the "sound coming from every direction" information that existed at the time. Unless one has a 100% perfect mic that has somehow been engineered to only pick up direct sound, that will happen - of course, put the musicians in a high quality anechoic chamber and the goal will be largely realised - if you can coax them to play in such ... :D.

Once in the room, the echos of that area will be mixed in, too. The point I'm making is that when quality is sufficient, then the acoustic information of the recording dominates that added by the listening space, as a subjective experience. And even though the recording engineer may have valiantly tried to kill all the acoustics of the recording space he only partially succeeds - enough gets through for the ear/brain to unscramble it.

Yes, conventional playback through point source speakers doesn't make this happen - in fact, 99.9999...% of the time it doesn't happen. Which is not the same thing as saying it can't happen ...
 
Last edited:

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
What are you talking about Frank?

Each individual acoustic environment has integrity
???

I have no idea what you are talking about.

All you are saying is the better the system the better it sounds , with zero qualification or quantification.
As an example, and a deliberate exercise, you record a jazz trio with each player in a separate environment: one in a small recording booth; another in a larger, conventional room; the third is a performance space - and put that together in a mix. When listening you can hear that each player is in their separate space, which overlay each other - and you can switch your subjective focus to each of those recorded environments, which co-exist as they emerge from the speakers.

That's the intent of what I'm saying.
 

tomelex

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Patreon Donor
Joined
Feb 29, 2016
Messages
759
Likes
276
Location
So called Midwest, USA
Yes, indeed it does. And when it emerges it contains some of the "sound coming from every direction" information that existed at the time. Unless one has a 100% perfect mic that has somehow been engineered to only pick up direct sound, that will happen - of course, put the musicians in a high quality anechoic chamber and the goal will be largely realised - if you can coax them to play in such ... :D.

Once in the room, the echos of that area will be mixed in, too. The point I'm making is that when quality is sufficient, then the acoustic information of the recording dominates that added by the listening space, as a subjective experience. And even though the recording engineer may have valiantly tried to kill all the acoustics of the recording space he only partially succeeds - enough gets through for the ear/brain to unscramble it.

Yes, conventional playback through point source speakers doesn't make this happen - in fact, 99.9999...% of the time it doesn't happen. Which is not the same thing as saying it can't happen ...
Frank, it can't happen. Not with two channel stereo. At the least you need to study up on the difference between binaural recording and stereo playback. One is a natural concept, the other an unnatural concept. Understanding this, will indeed set you free of the myth you hold onto, despite what you imagine things to be. I will not explain the differences so don't ask. Investigate at your own peril!
 

fas42

Major Contributor
Joined
Mar 21, 2016
Messages
2,818
Likes
139
Location
Australia
Frank, it can't happen. Not with two channel stereo. At the least you need to study up on the difference between binaural recording and stereo playback. One is a natural concept, the other an unnatural concept. Understanding this, will indeed set you free of the myth you hold onto, despite what you imagine things to be. I will not explain the differences so don't ask. Investigate at your own peril!
Sorry, it does. The theory of why, and discovery of how, things work is often appropriated and extended into being used to positively assert that "such and such must be the case", or "such is impossible" - the history of science is littered with the debris of discarded or insufficiently comprehensive ideas - how many people slaved away, "proving" that it was impossible to go faster than the speed of sound without destroying the vehicle ...
 
Top Bottom