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Thread: How many people can hear the difference between...

  1. #11
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    Don't know if this adds anything. At 65 (and still recording, about to release a new 'album') my hearing has deteriorated to the extent that I am deemed in need of hearing aid in left ear for "marginal" hearing loss.
    Talking to my "hearing therapist" (aint the NHS wonderful), she claimed that I perceived my loss of hearing more acutely BECAUSE I'm a long time musician recording engineer.
    The standard NHS test for whether one needs hearing aid help apparently lies 15db (in your ability to hear) to either side of the NHS selected frequency (which I do not recall) (Hope that makes sense.
    So someone could hear at 15 db ABOVE the chosen volume when that frequency is played and STILL get help, or be 15db below.
    Sorry: Here's my point. I can tell the difference in a vocal if I add 1 or 2 db without my hearing aid, and when I told her this, she told me about musician's ability.

    SO "ordinary folk" are what the NHS tests target and they nbeed a 15 db difference whereas, theoretically I need a 1 tgo 5 db difference.
    I don't think ordiunary people can truly tell the difference at all and that they don't care either.

    PS: I have a new fangled hearing aid with a special setting for lisening to music.

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  3. #12
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    The NHS hearing test is appallingly bland. The actual frequencies are 5 or 6 across the range and therefore incapable of drawing any kind of response curve that is meaningful to people used to talking about sound.

    If you do your own hearing test with a tone generator in your studio, you won't of course have headphones that are completely flat - but they'll be gentle and only plus/minus a few dB. by watching the meters and being honest, you can build up a very accurate curve showing your own hearing - and even allowing for the frequency response of your headphones, your hearing loss at specific frequencies will be quite evident. I suppose you could even use a microphone with very flat response to build up an inverse EQ curve to flatten your test headphones to increase the test effectiveness, but I'm positive I would get more accurate curve than the NHS one can produce, because it is ONLY concerned with speech. The private audiologist my mother visits explained their equipment can do much more narrow band testing, but this is not deemed necessary for speech. If you pay for the test, you can have third octave testing done - the machines are quite capable of it.

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  5. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by spitzer View Post

    How many people, in pure numbers, x people out of y people, can reliably tell the difference between "A" and "B"? What is the proportion of people who are actually capable of telling them apart?

    There's a ton of very heated debate on this stuff, but this is something I haven't found anywhere. I've seen various studies comparing musicians, engineers, "audiophiles" etc. to each other but the groups of people themselves are "floating" and unspecified. Where did they get those people? What are they supposed to represent? None of them answer the most relevant question (to me). This type of question is interesting in the general population, not at all that much otherwise if you ask me (it turns into a contest instead...)

    So, anyone here know of a good study or two?
    Why does this even matter...if there was/is some "study"?
    It will not prove anything, because it is impossible to test every person on the planet...so the study will not be accurate. To take some sample average and churn out some "proof", is no more accurate than doing a political poll and hope it's right.

    I get the feeling that what you really want to know is why your friend hears it differently than you...and right there is your answer...people do.
    Women differently from men, in general, children different from adults, in general, younger different from older, in general...and that's not even getting into the subjective aspect of WHAT they are hearing...that's through audiology testing, that it's been shown to be the cases, in general.

    I also really, REALLY hate the boring argument that some will make when they say "most people won't even hear it or notice it, so who cares"...etc..etc.
    If you can hear it...if one other person can hear it...then assume you/they are not the only ones...so don't approach any audio production by catering to the lowest common denominator of the general public...but rather go with the assumption that some will hear it, and if it needs correcting, then do it.

    Of course...if it's just a purely subjective thing...you like it less bright and someone else likes it more bright...that's an artistic decision, and also, that's why most playback system have some level of EQ adjustment capability so people can tailor their listening experience to their tastes.
    One thing IS and has been true with audio productions...if they are well balanced and have some room to "bend" without losing their soul...more people will be able to make personal taste adjustments when listening, without drastic alterations to your production.

  6. #14
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    Quote Originally Posted by miroslav View Post
    Why does this even matter...if there was/is some "study"?
    It will not prove anything, because it is impossible to test every person on the planet...so the study will not be accurate. To take some sample average and churn out some "proof", is no more accurate than doing a political poll and hope it's right.

    I get the feeling that what you really want to know is why your friend hears it differently than you...
    You misunderstood horribly. This has nothing to do with how or why he or person X or person Y hears that particular track. Also, the NUMBER of people being tested is not the problem, the problem is WHO is being tested. Not regular people, but engineers, musicians and "audiophiles".

    What I really want to know, I specified in the first post. Specified in broad terms but still specified.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spitzer View Post
    You misunderstood horribly.
    No I didn't.
    It sounds to me like you're trying to understand why people hear a difference and who those people are...narrowed down to industry people.

    Like I said, what does it matter if there was a study and even if it was done with engineers, musicians and "audiophiles...it's always going to be very subjective.
    There have been countless tests done with the A/B of mics or monitors, and all kinds of other things...by industry people...and while many of them are about guessing which is A or B...right or wrong pick, most people always claimed to hear a difference. Which is my point.

    What is it that you are really asking or trying to understand...stemming from your friend hearing something differently from you?
    Let's assume there was a specific study...with some specific numbers...60% could hear a difference, 40% couldn't...or whatever.
    What does that information do for you...what question(s) would it answer for you?
    Last edited by miroslav; 09-06-2019 at 23:23.

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    I have to agree with Miroslav for a number of reasons. There are many of our senses that defy objective testing for so many reasons, and will remain subjective for ever, I suspect. I didn't think much about this till I studied to be a teacher, with music and performing arts as my key area. We had to do loads of research and presentation tasks, and my teachers always used my ones to destroy (pleasantly) my firmly held opinions and beliefs, simply because they could not be validated and were always subjective. One of the people on the programme was a whiskey blender - and we viewed his specialist subject as completely subjective, as it was all about if you like alcohol which I don't, being allergic to it!

    However, he had the results of tasting panels, chemical analyses and his results were very well received as facts. Mine were far less solid.

    The problem is that our only qualitative ability to measure is in terms of frequency and amplitude. We can measure this very accurately. Oddly, we can measure distortion, and we can see it on screens in terms of waveforms. We accept evidence of audio files by reference to a small number of objective responses that measure and define very well - but as soon as we move to 'quality', objective response goes out of the window. It transfers to terms that frankly really don't make any sense. All musicians on this forum would listen to a Les Paul played through a decent tube amp, with some well known effects and processing and say this sounds better than the student guitar with the cheapest pedal in the shop. I suspect if we did a poll, we'd all say the same thing - one is better quality than the other. Very few, if any, could say why! Measurements would fail. Good distortion vs bad distortion? First thing is you need to define what distortion is. We'd probably go for differences between the original and the processed. How is the distortion different? Some might start looking at the differences between the harmonics - numbered as they get higher and measures and others might concentrate on evener odd numbered harmonics - all that stuff. Trouble is, with all the available tools to measure and analyse, without listening to the end result, could you actually look at the data and say - ah, this one will sound best? No - absolutely not. We listen to the track and then we validate our choice. You cannot do it the other way around. My teacher was a bit of a 70s synth fan, and he proved my analysis to be rubbish by bringing in a synth and an oscilloscope. He then told me to look at the screen and put 5 preset waveforms into order from horrible to wonderful sounding. Totally impossible. Result = subjective.

    We all have some ability to determine quality, but it relies on conditioning to put what we hear into boxes. At some point our brain heard something and put it into a pigeon hole we then use to form judgements. It isn't just sound - two other sense have the same issue. Smell and colour. Colour is a particularly fascinating one to study. It's a subject where no two people can be proven to see the same thing. When you were a child, your parents pointed at the sky and said "blue". We then use this for our entire life. See that colour - say blue. If you were in fact seeing yellow, does it matter if you think that colour is blue? Could this be the answer to favourite colours and why we all have different ones? Some people cannot even describe colour - Purple, mauve, magenta, pink, fuchsia. See the problem. you can measure the wavelength of light but you cannot say with any certainty that what people actually see!

    Any form of qualitative analysis of audio is confined to a very narrow accuracy range. Trying to go further forces it into objective subjectiveness, or subjective objectiveness and we cannot go further until somebody can measure what data crunching happens in our brains.

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  10. #17
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    Miroslav knows "what I really want to know" better than me? And you agree with him? Honestly, are you crazy?

    I'll address the other stuff later in case there's something there to address.

  11. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by rob aylestone View Post
    We had to do loads of research and presentation tasks, and my teachers always used my ones to destroy (pleasantly) my firmly held opinions and beliefs, simply because they could not be validated and were always subjective. One of the people on the programme was a whiskey blender - and we viewed his specialist subject as completely subjective, as it was all about if you like alcohol which I don't, being allergic to it!

    However, he had the results of tasting panels, chemical analyses and his results were very well received as facts. Mine were far less solid.
    ...

    Any form of qualitative analysis of audio is confined to a very narrow accuracy range. Trying to go further forces it into objective subjectiveness, or subjective objectiveness and we cannot go further until somebody can measure what data crunching happens in our brains.
    I made no claims concerning what is subjective or objective, or what is not. I made no claims at all. I did not propose a plan to "go further" either.

    Whatever problem with "objective subjectiveness" etc. you think would be in the tests... IS in the tests. Somebody is probably doing an A/B test right now, comparing lossless files against OGG/AAC/MP3 or whatever and is planning on publishing it somewhere. These tests are still being done all the time, with precisely the same problems you think they have. So... are you saying these studies should not be done at all?

    The test methods being used are a different topic, what I wished for were tests where the people being tested were properly selected and specified.

    What Miroslav started with is borderline "nothing at all should be tested or at least can not be trusted" and that is a subject I won't touch and is out of place here.

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    Streaming services including Google for youtube have done all these tests and they will not publish results. Perception is a huge part interpretation, plenty of studies showing that people can be fooled into thinking one sample sounds better than the other even when they are exactly the same just by telling them one is a higher bit rate sample even when it's not. Those that have done this kind of testing consider it proprietary and will tell you if you want an answer do a study yourself.

    Food for thought

    and
    Win 7 Ult Dell i7 4core 6700ghz 32 GB, 1,2x2, 4 Tb Barracuda HD's running Pro tools 2019 through Allen&Heath Qu-32

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  14. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by spitzer View Post
    Miroslav knows "what I really want to know" better than me? And you agree with him? Honestly, are you crazy?

    I'll address the other stuff later in case there's something there to address.
    I asked you twice to get to the heart of the matter, because I really DON'T know what you really want to know...because it can't be just "have there been any tests".

    You haven't replied.

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