Human Hearing Acuity Shown to be More Accurate Than Standard Linear Models

Discussion in 'GENERAL AV Discussions' started by admin, Oct 23, 2013.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    While it is well known that human perception of sound wave amplitude, volume, is nonlinear, it has long been assumed that frequency and temporal information are perceived in a linear fashion. New research shows that this assumption is not true and human hearing is far more accurate than previously thought. While the golden-eared audiophile is sometimes a mocked concept, if he or she perhaps is a musician or has musical training, there may be something more to it than we currently understand. What do you think?
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    Discuss "Human Hearing Acuity Shown to be More Accurate Than Standard Linear Models" here. Read the article.
  2. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

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    Well, time will tell what "golden ears" are really capable of in differentiating component performance. ;) :D
    So far, not so good.

    I wonder if Sean Olive knows about this research paper and if he does, his take on it.
  3. Goliath Full Audioholic

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    This article goes some distance in explaining the truth that people with excellent hearing acuity and training can discern audible differences that other people cannot even dream of. Like in electronics. Like amplifiers, source components and cables.

    Except it doesn't.

    People still can't discern audible differences between amplifiers, source components and cables in a double blind test, no matter how good their training is and no matter how good their natural born hearing faculties are. This has been going on for decades and decades.

    Even in their own homes... using their own music, using their own equipment, they fail to reliably identify differences connected to the equipment. Instead they report false positives or, at worst, acoustic illusions. :D
  4. woofersus Audioholic

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    I don't really think that's what the article was saying. That there is a greater delta than previously thought created by trained listening doesn't necessarily also mean that every claimed feat of hearing is true. Nor does the fact that human hearing in general is more sensitive to time and frequency variation than previously thought. It is, however, an interesting piece of information that continues down the road of understanding exactly what people can differentiate with a high degree of accuracy and what they cannot. Perhaps one day we'll move beyond the arguments of "It was NOT a subtle difference" and "If it wasn't double blind, you didn't hear it" with the help of science. I have always suspected that the truth was a little more complex than what either side claims in that particular flame war.
  5. Goliath Full Audioholic

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    With the help of science we know that people, when deprived of visual feedback, can't discern audible differences that aren't there, no matter how profound those differences may appear n sighted listening tests. So I'm not sure what this "truth" is that you speak of.

    With the help of science we know that memory of subtle audible details degrades with time, very, very quickly, and we know that sight allows the fiction of sensory perception without there actually being any actual differences. Probably the biggest issue is not whether differences exist, because I'm sure in many cases there ARE audible differences, but they are not caused by the equipment. They are the result of poorly set up comparisons which magnify differences that otherwise should not exist under closer, more reliable conditions.

    I think this subject has been put to bed for several decades now. We have several decades of evidence, I'm not sure how many more decades of controlled study are required in order for people to acknowledge the reality that many or most audible differences of amplifiers, dacs, and cable, under sighted evaluations, are the result of either audible illusions or the result of false positive reports.
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  6. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    Yeah, I don't buy it either. All amps sound the same to me (perpetual flame war :D). ;)

    I can't hear something that isn't there.

    Double-blinded studies have shown that, which is more than I can say about the other camp.

    Is there even a SINGLE DBT that shows people can actually hear a difference between amps? A single study?

    Why doesn't someone do a DBT or even single-blinded study that statistically shows people could hear the difference?

    Talk the talk, but do they walk the walk? :D

    BTW, I did a hearing test online using my system and I could actually hear the high-pitch frequency up to 22kHz, which surprised the heck out of me.

    But in the end, what I care about is enjoying the actual music and movie content, not whether I can hear some magical notes and small differences that no one else can hear. :D
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2013
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  7. cutedaddy Enthusiast

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    hearing acuity

    @ AcuDefTechGuy:
    "BTW, I did a hearing test online using my system and I could actually hear the high-pitch frequency up to 22kHz, which surprised the heck out of me."

    Are you sure you didn't hear the presence of the 22kHz signal (given away by subharmonics or by distortion in some part of your circuit), rather than the 22k tone itself? A hundred years of DB testing has not revealed even one subject that can hear beyond 20k, but many that cannot hear even close to 20k.

    Agree w/your DBT statements. Cheers.
  8. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

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    [QUOTE AcuDefTechGuy:
    "BTW, I did a hearing test online using my system and I could actually hear the high-pitch frequency up to 22kHz, which surprised the heck out of me."
    .[/QUOTE]

    ADTG I think you need to go do that again...like at a real audiologist office

    Also, a few other article addressing the same topic.

    Human Hearing Outsmarts Physical Limits - Evolution News & Views

    Human hearing is highly nonlinear - physicsworld.com

    [1208.4611] Human Time-Frequency Acuity Beats the Fourier Uncertainty Principle go to the upper right and print out the free PDF
    cpp,
  9. cutedaddy Enthusiast

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    Ah, guys 'n gals, please don't fight.

    The term golden ears is used in another sense than usually meant in the 'flame war' (as coined in this thread). There's differences no one can hear, simply because they are outside the human hearing spectrum, or because they don't exist. Golden ears will never change a thing about that. In that sense they don't exist, never will and have been 'put to bed' decades ago by any serious scientist or professional engineer.

    Then there's the statement that hearing acuity has recently been found to be non-linear in the frequency and time domain, in contrast to what was previously thought to be true (amplitude domain only). This opens new possibilities for DSP, e.g. aiding spatial perception by improving algorithms on presently used surround, ambisonics and holophony decoders. Just like better understanding of psycho-acoustics has facilitated algorithms for the Mp3 format and, later, Mp3HD.

    The fact training improves perception is no surprise, but in fact a 'side-topic' in addition to the issue of acuity of our physical capacities. That these capacities are not always used to the fullest of their potential has to do with training, that they exist in the first place has to do with boundaries of physical human hearing- and sound processing 'systems'.

    So the article is just stating these physical capacities are more refined than previously believed. Stuff turns out to be more complex then initially assumed, hey, sounds reasonable to me, isn't that the story of our lives? If one trains these capacities then, as with all training, the brain will assign more cells to the task, thereby improving ones use of existing capacities. The firmware is updated, more fully employing the hardware, as it were, and thus improves our hearing systems output: our brains CPU receives information at a higher bit rate, making reconstruction of real world sound waves by our inner signal processor more accurate.

    People who have tasted and smelled hundreds of thousands of different wines, are able to quite accurately identify grapes, heritage and geographic origin of a specific wine. People who have listened to classical music all their lives are better able to distinguish flaws in the musicians' performance, live or recorded. No debate, these peoples firmware has been updated, now able to process information at a higher bit rate. In that sense, golden ears have always existed and always will.

    No flame war necessary, would my conclusion be.

    Cheers everyone.
    Last edited: Nov 1, 2013
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  10. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

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    While this is an older publication and no longer easily available, it may be an interesting read nonetheless. Or, perhaps their testing protocol and equipment limited their performance ;)
    Gould, Glenn, "The Grass is Always Greener in the Outtakes," High Fidelity, Aug 75, pg 54-59.

    As to those wine folks, I heard of it but I would still like to see a good test of their ability under blind conditions published. ;)
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  11. PENG Audioholic Warlord

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    PENG,
  12. PENG Audioholic Warlord

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    I have the funny feeling that if there are highly credible DBT results that could totally prove at what point amps are not the bottleneck, manufacturers would lose some sale to those in the camp who believe, but won't lose much to those in the other camp. I mean, you think ADTG will give up his AVP, ATI etc, not a chance!
    PENG,
  13. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    Gods no. :D

    At this point, I don't want to change a thing. :eek:

    Just give me more awesome TV shows, movies, and music. :)
  14. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    I am not sure of anything. :D

    I doubt it myself. But my 11YO daughter says she could hear the 22kHz signal also. But it could be something else.

    We heard a constant high pitch sound when I played the 22kHz signal on my HTPC system.

    I also heard the 10Hz signal, but it was my walls and everything else rattling. :eek: :D
  15. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    At this point, I am just enjoying lossless Apple music files M4A streaming from my iPad to my Apple TV and also enjoying Netflix 1080p/DD 5.1 HD movies & TV shows.

    Loving it. I don't listen to my speakers, amps, and processor anymore. I just listen to the music and watch the video. :cool:
  16. Ampdog Audioholic

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    As I see it, the relevant article adds to knowledge of how things work hearing-wise, which have always been there, rather than render past tests less reliable. Unless it is suggested/shown that hearing itself has improved over say a decade, past tests are still valid whether we knew the exact mechanism of hearing or not. Test subjects were as human then as they are now. And scientists do not know everything, but they do know certain things. (Trival example: I doubt that any analyses will ever reveal that 6+11 is not =17.) Again not to start a flame war, but there has simply not been a scientific discovery/development to confirm that copper wire is introducing audible effects to any remote extent. If any hearing test suggests different, the reason must be sought elsewhere.

    As a scientist I would be the first to embrace such discoveries - but I would also wonder where the Nobel Prize is. It has been awarded for lesser achievements.
  17. mtrycrafts Audioholic Slumlord

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    I am still waiting for mine for such lesser achievements, and I mean lesser. ;) :D
  18. woofersus Audioholic

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    You're jumping to defend a point I'm not actually making here. I know all about the difficulty with sighted tests and I'm not suggesting otherwise. (nor was the article in question that you jumped on) There are many studies that show this, but our knowledge about lots of things evolves over time. Saying a topic has been "put to bed" and pooh-poohing a scientific study would seem to be the opposite of what you are espousing. Many of those studies focus on what people can't hear rather than what they can. All I'm saying is that these sorts of studies may suggest that the truth is more complicated than the idea that nobody can hear this or that thing, and everybody can hear some other thing. Just testing whether or not a group of people can hear a difference in a DBT to a statistically significant level doesn't necessarily answer that question, (at least not completely) and in some cases other studies need to be done to even have an idea what or how to test. I was simply lauding the fact that research continues on the subject because it's interesting.
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
  19. PENG Audioholic Warlord

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    I don't disagree but I do think such DBT or even SBT should reliably answer the question that there are no night and day difference that are often cited by people who simply go from one power amp to another, everything else being equal. To me those kind of talks are way over exaggerated.
    PENG,
  20. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

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    A blind test can be just as flawed or MORE flawed than a properly controlled sighted test. Most companies NEVER do DBT's, they at best do blind tests. Many of whom use their own panel of trained listeners in these tests introducing a huge bias they conveniently don't disclose. At that point, you're dealing with a blind test with induced familiarity bias.

    In addition, quick ABX testing between speakers often yields preferences towards the brighter/bassier speaker for the inexperienced listener.

    Some suggested reading:

    The Insanity of Marketing Disguised as Loudspeaker Science | Audioholics

    Revealing Flaws in the Loudspeaker Demo & Double Blind Test | Audioholics

    How to Skew a Blind Listening Test | Audioholics
    Last edited: Nov 4, 2013
    gene,

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