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Old 13th September 2004, 02:46 AM   #1
steve is offline steve  United States
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Default What is 'audible'?

Following the 'Randi' thread it becomes apparent that there is significant debate about what is 'audible' and what isn't. My background is in physiology, and during the past twenty years I have had a particular interest in perception and 'sensory' processing.

If we were to limit our definition of 'audible' to what we can 'hear' I would be inclined to agree that our ears are not the most sensitive instruments that can be devised, but they are associated with the finest processor on the planet. What we can 'hear' and what we can 'imagine' are two very different things. Our sense organs have each evolved because they provided information which allowed us to act in a manner that offered evolutionary advantage. The 'audio' spectrum provides information regarding presence of 'predator' and 'prey', and for discrimination between 'friend' and 'foe'. It is our primary 'first alert' sensory mechanism, and as such processes information regarding our surroundings virtually 24/7.

My hearing is not particularly good, I'm old enough that I've lost a couple octaves off the top, and I never had a particularly good sense of pitch, but I know how to listen. AB two different notes on a piano and I'd probably get them wrong, but I am very sensative to subtle changes in my system (under special conditions).

Audio is all about 'illusion', providing 'sufficient' information for the mind to 'imagine' a 'virtual' stage created out of thin air. This is indeed an exceptional trick of magic, worthy of all the Randii's out there.

Those of us fortunate enough to have experienced a fine recording played through a highly refined system under ideal conditions know full well the feeling of chills creeping up the back of their neck when for a moment a phantasm of some distant artist makes an appearance hanging in thin air. And those of us fortunate to possess such a system know full well how little it takes to lose that image, or to capture just a bit more of it.

More often than not my system is so far off that I can't seem to catch any sort of image at all, and under those circumstances it is difficult for me to perceive even major changes, is this better or worse? But ocasionally I'll get things pretty close, and then on one or another recordings I'll capture a bit of the magic, and then it seems that the most subtle changes make major differences (at least on those 'special' recordings).

If I was to use an analogy it would be focus, look through a telescope when the image is poorly focused and dramatic changes in focus make little difference, get the focus close and subtle changes make big difference as the image becomes ever crisper.

I don't know what might be 'audible' in the sense of detection of differences between one condition and another in a given system, but I would guess that very subtle changes might be detectable in highly refined systems. Differences that might be exceptionally difficult to measure with conventional instruments.

As to the 'value' of shataki stones and 'thousand dollar' interconnects , I couldn't say, but it is difficult for me to imagine a system so refined that these expensive tweaks would provide the most 'improvement per dollar invested' .
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Old 13th September 2004, 03:12 AM   #2
fcel is offline fcel  United States
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You mentioned "sense of pitch" ....

My kid's piano teacher once told me that she has perfect pitch. She can tell you which note (any instrument) you played 100% of the time. She claim that she can tell who's off even by one note from a full playing orchectra. In fact, other piano teacher also tells me that they have perfect pitch. What does it really mean -audibly? To them, doesn't all hi-fi sounds bad - regardless of cost?
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Old 13th September 2004, 03:39 AM   #3
steve is offline steve  United States
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My wife also has a fine sense of pitch... she said that it ruined choir for her. I have noticed that she seems to notice changes in our system much more quickly than I do, where it might take me hours to notice that something isn't quite right she'll walk into the room and say 'what's wrong with the stereo?' ... of course she still hears those high notes which I've become stone deaf to.
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Old 13th September 2004, 11:56 PM   #4
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I guess by definition, it would be something like what is percieved from the dynamics of the ear mechanics.

Difficult to pin down when sound or something audible can be recognized both objectively: "The music rattled the windows" and subjectively: "That sound nice"

Good question, though not sure you'll get a satisfactory answer.

Speaking of pitch, my wife called me one last night. I laughed and said "Honey, I'm not a pitch, I'm a sonofapitch, you're the pitch. Then we made up.

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