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Re: NYT article mentions the psychoacoustics of loudspeaker reproduction

I know it's a newspaper, not a journal, so it's unfair to be too picky, but I love it when 'psychoacoustics' is used a special 'voodoo' term; I bet the writers of StarTrek wish they'd used it.
I liked this bit: "...But stereo had no real psychoacoustics..."

Seriously, though, as John says - what you want from a speaker when it is an "audio image projector" or part of an "audio image projections system" may well be different from what you want if it is to be able to depict ambience attributes such as 'spaciousness', 'envelopment', 'depth of field' (related to what Rumsey and Mason call 'ensemble depth') as well as more psychoacoustically vague non-concert attributes such as enclosed/ partially enclosed /non-enclosed (eg open door/window, cul-de-sac, open roof, totally outdoors), and even harder (yet perceptually obvious) attributes such as approaching/departing source, approaching-and-partially occluded source, non-egocentric distance perception (motorbike passes picket fence, behind a bus then in front of a wall).
Of course, the obvious way is separate the functions out a bit, so that the 'image source sound stage' is dealt with by one system, and 'ambient characteristics' dealt with by another - and that's exactly what 5.1 surround is. By extension, Holman's 10.2 and this latest version - 11.2 - follow this design philosophy. 
They are still largely predicated on the limited example of the concert situation.
I liked this bit as well "...Despite recent advances, however, psychoacoustics has shown engineers that they still have a long way to go."

It seems to miss the point that, as Bill Hartmann alluded to, we still don't even begin to have psychoacoustic descriptions of some perceptual attributes that we experience every single day. So what that should read is that "5 minutes real-world listening demonstrates that psychoacoustics have a long way to go"!


Dr Peter Lennox
School of Technology 
University of Derby, UK
tel: 01332 593155
e: p.lennox@xxxxxxxxxxx  

-----Original Message-----
From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception [mailto:AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Beerends, J.G. (John)
Sent: 07 September 2011 11:05
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: Re: NYT article mentions the psychoacoustics of loudspeaker reproduction

Interesting paper but I cannot resist the temptation to explain two points that are missing in the paper:
1) There are two different reproduction strategies, HERE+NOW verus THERE+THEN, the paper only deals with THERE+THEN while in some cases you want HERE+NOW requiring an anechoic recording + reproduction by a single loudspeaker having the same directivity behaviour as the recorded source (e.g. high quality voice reproduction will use this approach).
2) When you strive for THERE+THEN you should apply independent diffuse field equalization, its not clear whether this has been applied, all commercial products that are now on the markted do not apply this principle, Acoustic Reseach tried it in the 80's [1]. Claiming that people liked the sound is not enough, testing HERE+NOW is simple just use a curtain and play LIVE versus RECORDED; testing THERE+THEN is extremely difficult due to the binaural de-colorization effect.

John Beerends

[1] K. L. Kantor and A. P. Koster, "A psychoacoustically optimized loudspeaker," J. Audio Eng. Soc., vol. 34, pp. 990-996, (1986 Dec.).

-----Original Message-----
From: AUDITORY - Research in Auditory Perception [mailto:AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx] On Behalf Of Maher, Rob
Sent: dinsdag 6 september 2011 21:38
To: AUDITORY@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Subject: NYT article mentions the psychoacoustics of loudspeaker reproduction

A general-interest article from yesterday's New York Times concerning psychoacoustics, and quoting several familiar contributors: 


September 5, 2011
"Sound, the Way the Brain Prefers to Hear It"

"Everyone knows the sound of a bowling ball as it rolls down the alley,"
said William M. Hartmann, a Michigan State University physicist and former president of the Acoustical Society of America. "What is it about that sound that we can identify?" 
[end snip]

Rob Maher
Montana State University-Bozeman
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