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Old 15th May 2013, 03:51 AM   #1
dangwei is offline dangwei  United States
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Smile Hearing and the future of loudspeaker design

The current state of loudspeaker design puts a lot of emphasis on flat frequency response and other level measurements for sound reproduction. This methodology addresses the issue of precision since it allows for a measured comparison of different products and designs.

However, these measurements alone do NOT address the issue of accuracy. While it may appear that way, a speaker that measures flatter on the frequency response may not be more accurate than one that is not when used in the context that they are meant for: listening by people.

Why is this? When measured by a machine, the data is interpreted without prejudice and therefore can be precise and accurate at the same time.

When the data (sound from the speaker) is passed to the human and interpreted, physical prejudice is unavoidable. This is not speaking of preference for sound or music style but rather the physical differences between the hearing of individuals.

As an example let's take person A and person B. Person A has a theoretical "perfect" hearing or a level volume of hearing throughout each and every frequency. Person B has a realistic hearing with volume loss below 30htz and above 19khtz and various minor in scale volume losses in between. When the same exact frequency sweep is heard by these 2 people, the result is different. They interpreted data has the same precision but different accuracy. The same data is outputted but different data is received.

The relevance of this information is extremely useful to determine the future state of audio reproduction. With the increase ease and availability of active/digital crossovers and DSP, it isn't far until the day when each user of an audio system has their own "hearing profile" embedded into the design of the speaker. In this type of system, each individual listener will be able to hear the data (music, movies, etc) reproduced precisely AND accurately. Add this type of implementation to the recording and mastering phase and you will be able to experience the "art" of the artist as they intended. That isn't to say this type of system doesn't have challenges of it's own: aka when 2 or more people listen at the same time. Perhaps algorithms to balance the hearing of the 2 individuals?

I am actually working on such a system with my significant other. We have taken detailed hearing measurements of our hearing and my next DIY project will involve a digital crossover to account for these hearing differences. Once it's done, I'll post a full write up of the process and our interpreted results
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Old 15th May 2013, 06:10 AM   #2
Ronion is offline Ronion  United States
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Sounds like a bad idea to me. We hear things everyday with our ears. The source doesn't change because we hear it.
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Old 15th May 2013, 07:05 AM   #3
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dangwei,

What makes you think that perception of a sound event is different just because there are individual differences in low level hearing processes? I'm not saying this isn't the case (hearing aids do work) but how do you plan to test for perceptual differences?
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Old 15th May 2013, 07:16 AM   #4
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Optimum music reproduction can be achieved in only one way
There is no other way.
DSP and similar are of no help, indeed they are evil
Lately I've been talking about suspending the speakers with rubber bands...
Also OB-no box might be a good place to start
Indeed we're talking about the system, where the human being is the terminal...
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Old 15th May 2013, 07:32 AM   #5
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The bandwidth starts from very wide at childhood to restricted in adult life. Typically it progressively gets worse as we age. Every 5 years there would be some significant change. Above the age of 50 the hearing could have dropped off a lot. Some can hear up to 16 Khz but many can't hear over 12Khz or even less. Very small kids ( under 3 I guess!) supposedly can hear up to 30Khz ! But this rapidly drops as they age. But no two people ( or even the two ears in one person ) loose the bandwidth the same way. Some can hear HF better than others in old age.

So making a system tuned to each persons ear doesn't seem workable or even worth while. Many with restricted bandwidth enjoy the music today just as well as they did in their younger days. Maybe we should just focus on making reproducing systems which make 'musical' sounds and of course spend more time making the 'music' itself !
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Old 15th May 2013, 07:39 AM   #6
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Yes, it's all about band-width ...also time and space...we see and fell only a fraction of a fraction. That's why the system should be conceived as a full
pass-band device
The masking of the sound made by the sound itself ...it's the most fatiguing issue to fight. As music cannot live without the sound, and viceversa, the sound is ancillary to the music.
speaking about music reproduction, well, that creates a real black hole in time and space ! It's a breaktrough in man's mind...it makes happen something happened in another timer, another place .

Last edited by picowallspeaker; 15th May 2013 at 07:42 AM.
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Old 15th May 2013, 07:57 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by picowallspeaker View Post
...it makes happen something happened in another timer, another place .......
Ah...Yes of course !
We should have been looking for a time machine .
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Old 15th May 2013, 08:19 AM   #8
Johno is offline Johno  Australia
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Hi Dangwei, an interesting but seriously flawed proposition.
I like classical music and I prefer it live - however I live in a rural area far from the nearest orchestra etc so I play my Vinyls and CDs. I want my music reproduction to be as close as possible to what I experience at the opera house.

After a lifetime of motor cycle helmet wind noise my hearing is seriously degraded. Because of this, what I experience at the opera house is unique to me, but it is what I regard as the truth. And it is more or less what I hear through my stereo.
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Old 15th May 2013, 08:58 AM   #9
Rudolf is offline Rudolf  Germany
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Loudspeakers are not flat (or linear) because peoples hearing is flat. Loudspeakers are flat because they should reproduce sound exactly as it has been recorded.

Our hearing is everything else but linear. But that doesn't matter because our brain compensates for that - on an individual basis. If there is severe hearing loss, it should be compensated at the individual ear (by hearing aid or earphone), but not in a loudspeaker, when other people listen to it too.

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Old 15th May 2013, 09:04 AM   #10
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Quite right Rudolf but compensation can be done at the speaker level. It just doesn't make a lot of sense. Anyway, speaker designer, recording/mixing/mastering engineers do just that, compensate for hearing loss they might have. Adds to Audio's Circle of Confusion
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