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"Harman How to Listen" A New Computer-based Listener Training Program

post #1 of 84
Thread Starter 
I've posted a new article on my audio blog about our new computer-based listener training program used for training Harman listeners.

We are considering making this available for free to audio recording engineers, audio students, audio reviewers, and the audio consumer to increase consumer awareness and appreciation for higher quality audio recording and reproduction.
post #2 of 84
I'd love to play with your training software. Please make it freely available.

In your blog entry you said:
"Vague audiophile terms such as chocolaty, silky or the bass lacks pace, rhythm or musicality are part of the trained listener's vocabulary since these descriptors are not easily interpreted by audio engineers who must use the feedback from the listening tests to improve the product. "

I think you probably meant to say, "are NOT part of the trained listener's vocabulary . . ."
post #3 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I'd love to play with your training software. Please make it freely available.

In your blog entry you said:
"Vague audiophile terms such as chocolaty, silky or the bass lacks pace, rhythm or musicality are part of the trained listener's vocabulary since these descriptors are not easily interpreted by audio engineers who must use the feedback from the listening tests to improve the product. "

I think you probably meant to say, "are NOT part of the trained listener's vocabulary . . ."

Thanks. Already caught that myself and fixed it. I added "NOT" to add emphasis
post #4 of 84
I wonder how this training is performed. Do the listeners use headphones? If so which ones. Do they use "refererence" speakers? Or does it not matter? It would seem to me that the equipment used for training might affect the process, but I could be wrong.

A couple of other random thoughts. I'm still trying to understand how you would seperate the effects of the room and the speakers in a real life situation.
And second, I think trained listeners have to listen to lots of real live music - people playing actual instruments, in actual spaces (or outdoors). It is amazing to me how much the sound of an instrument can vary depending on where, how, and when it is played - and that does not touch the difference between instruments with the same name (a guitar is not a guitar, a flute is not a flute, they might all be similar but not the same) - does that make sense?

Anyway, kudos for what you are trying to do. And please share your software
post #5 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I wonder how this training is performed. Do the listeners use headphones? If so which ones. Do they use "refererence" speakers? Or does it not matter? It would seem to me that the equipment used for training might affect the process, but I could be wrong.

A couple of other random thoughts. I'm still trying to understand how you would seperate the effects of the room and the speakers in a real life situation.
And second, I think trained listeners have to listen to lots of real live music - people playing actual instruments, in actual spaces (or outdoors). It is amazing to me how much the sound of an instrument can vary depending on where, how, and when it is played - and that does not touch the difference between instruments with the same name (a guitar is not a guitar, a flute is not a flute, they might all be similar but not the same) - does that make sense?

Anyway, kudos for what you are trying to do. And please share your software

Some of the training (spectral, distortion, dynamics) can be done on headphones but they must be accurate with good bass extension. The spatial attribute training needs to be done on a high quality multichannel playback system in a good listening room. That is why we built the Harman Reference Listening Rooms -- so that all Harman listeners can train under the exact same high-quality playback conditions. We'd be happy to sell you the equipment (and give you the room drawings) if you're interested in duplicating our training setup

I have found no strong positive correlation between a listeners' performance and whether or not they attend live music performances - or even play a musical instrument. In fact, musicians are often among the worse critical listeners until they've been adequately trained. This has been noted by other researchers including Jens Blauert, and Glenn Gould who had musicians and recording engineers listen for tape edits, and found most musicians were oblivious to the edits.

After all, most recorded music today is not performed in a concert hall but is electronically manufactured in a bedroom, garage or control room so there really is no such thing as a "reference". Floyd Toole talks a lot about this in the first chapters of his new book.
post #6 of 84
I've settled on senn hd-650 and and akg k701 for headphones. Are they good enough? ( I thought I'd be able to choose one over the other, but alas both seem to serve different purposes, depending on my mood, and both seem pretty good). I still prefer speakers, and since most of the music I listen to is designed for playback on two speakers, that is what I generally use.

I could not afford your room - well, I suppose I could, but it would take up more space than I want to give up, serve more people than I need, and just
would be impractical for me. I assume your home listening room is not a duplicate of your testing room - but I could be wrong . . .

Musicians listen for different things than the audience. And an instrument sounds different while being played than it does while being listened to. So it does not surprise me that musicians are no better at listening than "normal" people. It does surprise me that people who listen to a lot of music are not better at your tests/training, but I'll take your word for it.

Do you pay your testers? If so maybe I could apply and take a road trip. . .
Of course, I maybe useless - we won't know till you release your training software for general use
post #7 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I think you probably meant to say, "are NOT part of the trained listener's vocabulary . . ."

No kidding.

BTW, I've heard a lot of BS audiophoole adjectives, but “chocolaty” is new to me.

--Ethan
post #8 of 84
Quote:


It does surprise me that people who listen to a lot of music are not better at your tests/training, but I'll take your word for it.

It shouldn't surprise you, if you think about it a little. Look at what Sean is testing for—things like the ability to recognize a change in equalization. Is that what you listen for when you're at a concert? Of course not.
post #9 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

It shouldn't surprise you, if you think about it a little. Look at what Sean is testing forthings like the ability to recognize a change in equalization. Is that what you listen for when you're at a concert? Of course not.

Actually, reasonable tonal balance is one of the first things I listen for.
post #10 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dknightd View Post

I've settled on senn hd-650 and and akg k701 for headphones. Are they good enough? ( I thought I'd be able to choose one over the other, but alas both seem to serve different purposes, depending on my mood, and both seem pretty good). I still prefer speakers, and since most of the music I listen to is designed for playback on two speakers, that is what I generally use.

I could not afford your room - well, I suppose I could, but it would take up more space than I want to give up, serve more people than I need, and just
would be impractical for me. I assume your home listening room is not a duplicate of your testing room - but I could be wrong . . .

Musicians listen for different things than the audience. And an instrument sounds different while being played than it does while being listened to. So it does not surprise me that musicians are no better at listening than "normal" people. It does surprise me that people who listen to a lot of music are not better at your tests/training, but I'll take your word for it.

Do you pay your testers? If so maybe I could apply and take a road trip. . .
Of course, I maybe useless - we won't know till you release your training software for general use

We use AKG K701's for Binaural Room Scanning playback- so I think they would suffice for training. The HD650's are good phones as well.

My home listening room is not a duplicate of the Reference Room-- I can't afford one either

All of our listeners are Harman employees who do the listening as part of their job. We pay them $15 Amazon or $15 Harman dollars every time they do a listening test,which takes about 20 minutes. If you are in town - you are welcome to come by and audition as a listener.
post #11 of 84
The next time I'm on the West Coast I'd love to come by Northridge and be an 'auditioner' in that room. I don't need to get paid, or if it's required, you can pay me in Monopoly money
post #12 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by krabapple View Post

The next time I'm on the West Coast I'd live to come by Northridge and be an 'auditioner' in that room. I don't need to get paid, or if it's required, you can pay me in Monopoly money

Hi Krabapple,

You're welcome to drop by and participate in a test, or try the "How to Listen" training software, which quickly tells us how much monopoly money you are worth
post #13 of 84
Sean,

Is there an updated estimated date of release for this product? Thanks.
post #14 of 84
I would be very interested in CBT should it become available.

Thanks.
post #15 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

That is why we built the Harman Reference Listening Rooms -- so that all Harman listeners can train under the exact same high-quality playback conditions. We'd be happy to sell you the equipment (and give you the room drawings) if you're interested in duplicating our training setup

That's humorous , but not too far-fetched. I had the good fortune to be in that room a couple of weeks ago, and it's one of the more practical applications of things that we all could do in more or less normal rooms. There were some a-ha moments for me in that room, like the ability to move absorbers and diffusers along chair rail-like tracks on the walls. Genius, really!

I also got to participate in an abbreviated listener training exercise with Sean (not Olive--he was in China, but the other Sean) and a three-way shootout in the multi-listening lab, where I consistently rated one speaker much better than the others, though the order of comparison was randomized and I couldn't see anything until it was all over.

It was uncanny how much I could perceive, even at my age, once I was given the proper exposure to listening. Of course, it also was VERY obvious how little I really knew and how much more I need to learn.

Software please! And I have hope from what I saw that it might work on a Mac.
post #16 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

I would be very interested in CBT should it become available.

CBT? Sounds kinky .
post #17 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis Erskine View Post

I would be very interested in CBT should it become available.

Thanks.

CBT? You want Constant Beam Technology?
post #18 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by filecat13 View Post

That's humorous , but not too far-fetched. I had the good fortune to be in that room a couple of weeks ago, and it's one of the more practical applications of things that we all could do in more or less normal rooms. There were some a-ha moments for me in that room, like the ability to move absorbers and diffusers along chair rail-like tracks on the walls. Genius, really!

I also got to participate in an abbreviated listener training exercise with Sean (not Olive--he was in China, but the other Sean) and a three-way shootout in the multi-listening lab, where I consistently rated one speaker much better than the others, though the order of comparison was randomized and I couldn't see anything until it was all over.

It was uncanny how much I could perceive, even at my age, once I was given the proper exposure to listening. Of course, it also was VERY obvious how little I really knew and how much more I need to learn.

Software please! And I have hope from what I saw that it might work on a Mac.

Hi FileCat,

Sorry I missed you when you visited our listening labs, but as you said, I was in Shanghai teaching Floyd's CEDIA Multichannel Audio/Home Theatre Acoustics course.

I'm glad you had a good time, and were able to consistently rate the three speakers in the double-blind test.

Regarding the listener training software: we are working towards a public release in June for both Mac and Windows.
post #19 of 84
Thank you, Sean. Is there an estimated consumer cost (should have asked that originally, sorry)?
post #20 of 84
This sounds like a fantastic idea!
post #21 of 84
Quote:


CBT? You want Constant Beam Technology?

Well, yeah. In the meanwhile, I'll settle for Computer Based Training.
post #22 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nuance View Post

Thank you, Sean. Is there an estimated consumer cost (should have asked that originally, sorry)?

Estimated cost for the listener training software is free.
post #23 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

Estimated cost for the listener training software is free.

That's a price most here can live with, though someone's bound to complain about it anyway.

Oh wait, let me be the first: you mean it won't work on my iPad?

Seriously, though, thanks to Harman and those of you who've been developing this. It's a great gift to the community.
post #24 of 84
Quote:


Estimated cost for the listener training software is free.

Well then it can't be any good.
post #25 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

Estimated cost for the listener training software is free.

Hi Sean,

I and 3-5 people I know would be very interested in listener training software. This is something I'd be willing to pay for (preferably >$100) so absolutely no argument about free! As I read Floyd's book and various white papers I've been looking to expand my listening ability. It would be fantastic to be exposed to the professional process although my pocket book might disagree...

Will there be a difference between the consumer versions and the version provided to say recording engineers / audio reviewers?

One more reason to look forward to summer!

Tim
post #26 of 84
I was in a couple audio engineering courses, and there were some "Golden Ears" listening assignments that we had to complete. I saw this as a great opportunity to test my skills and improve my critical listening. Many of the other students complained and didn't do the assignments. It makes sense when I hear their mixes.

I am looking forward to trying out this software, thanks for taking the time to share some info with us. Wish I was closer to the west coast so I could drop by.
post #27 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by datgai View Post

Hi Sean,

I and 3-5 people I know would be very interested in listener training software. This is something I'd be willing to pay for (preferably >$100) so absolutely no argument about free! As I read Floyd's book and various white papers I've been looking to expand my listening ability. It would be fantastic to be exposed to the professional process although my pocket book might disagree...

Will there be a difference between the consumer versions and the version provided to say recording engineers / audio reviewers:

One more reason to look forward to summer!

Tim

Interesting idea about a different version of training software aimed at consumers versus recording engineers/audio reviewers. Would the audio reviewer version be an easier version based on this listener performance data?

Attachment 172794

Actually, the training software adapts to the listener's ability so it starts out easy and gets progressively more difficult as the listener's performance improves. In this way, experts, audio reviewers, and audio marketing/sales people alike can use it and not get easily frustrated at the beginning.
LL
post #28 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by XanderMoser View Post

I was in a couple audio engineering courses, and there were some "Golden Ears" listening assignments that we had to complete. I saw this as a great opportunity to test my skills and improve my critical listening. Many of the other students complained and didn't do the assignments. It makes sense when I hear their mixes.

I am looking forward to trying out this software, thanks for taking the time to share some info with us. Wish I was closer to the west coast so I could drop by.

Another training option is this brand new book by Jason Corey that I just received. It includes some listener training software on a CD_ROM that runs on Mac or Windows, although the Mac software doesn't run due to some screw up by Focal press. The exercises are more aimed at training recording engineers/tonmeisters although anyone involved in sound evaluation would benefit from them.
post #29 of 84
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tonmeister2008 View Post

Interesting idea about a different version of training software aimed at consumers versus recording engineers/audio reviewers?

Would the audio reviewer version be an easier version based on this listener performance data?

Attachment 172794

Actually, the training software adapts to the listener's ability so it starts out easy and gets progressively more difficult as the listener's performance improves.

The thought did cross my mind that it the consumer version might be shorter or not as in depth. But according to the research maybe we need more...!
post #30 of 84
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by mcnarus View Post

Well then it can't be any good.

We can arrange a special audiophile version of the training software just for you that costs $10k per license. This version will always tell you that you are correct -- even when you are wrong...
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