How to Choose a Loudspeaker -- What the Science Shows - Page 97 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #2881 of 3772 Old 05-19-2019, 05:58 PM
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A simple test anyone can do to see the potential difference in hearing among individuals is to sit down in your easy chair and start listening to some of your favorite music. Now extend your arms up so your hands are alongside your neck and your index fingers can just touch the backs of your ears. Put slight pressure on the backs of your ears in different areas so they slightly change shape and marvel at the change in sound. It's almost as if you are listening to a different set of speakers.

The first time I tried this I was pretty surprised. In a sense it's a version of the old cupping your hands behind your ears to better hear a faint sound. But in this case just a slight change in ear shape results not only in a change in sound volume but also in tonal response. In my case the higher frequencies changed more than the lower ones and my speakers took on a different character.

Now consider that we all have slightly different shaped ears. I'm sure that our ear canals are similarly of slightly different shapes. Our nerves that transmit the vibrations from our ears to our brains also can't be perfectly identical, and for sure we all know that our brains can process the same data much differently from others. Add all this up and it becomes obvious that we're not all perceiving exactly the same sounds in the real world let alone when listening to the same speakers. Yet we gather on forums like this and try to tell each other which speaker sounds best.

To me the science at the heart of this thread represents an effort to quantify some basic commonalities of speaker performance that most listeners whose hearing is within a wide band of not excessively far from average generally appreciate. It doesn't cover all the fine nuances of speaker performance, nor does it account for how people with different shaped ears might perceive the sound differently. But it can generally point us in a direction and help narrow down the selection process from the thousands of different speaker options on the market that we can't possibly compare all against each other.
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post #2882 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 08:21 AM
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^^Hope it is ok to post this here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/s...e-hearing.html

Seems the brain adjusts over time, but perhaps Dr. Toole cam weigh in on the subject.
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post #2883 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 08:53 AM
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^ Excellent research story. One of the most underestimated components of what we hear is our brain's ability to process and interpret the data its fed. Beyond that the mood we happen to be in at any given moment can greatly influence what we hear. Over decades of listening to music through various sound systems I've found that my speakers always sound better to me when I'm in a good mood than when I'm in a bad mood. When I listen to music while in a bad mood I'm much more likely to start thinking about wanting to upgrade my speakers than when I listen while in a good mood. Psychoacoustics at work.
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post #2884 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 10:00 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
^ Excellent research story. One of the most underestimated components of what we hear is our brain's ability to process and interpret the data its fed. Beyond that the mood we happen to be in at any given moment can greatly influence what we hear. Over decades of listening to music through various sound systems I've found that my speakers always sound better to me when I'm in a good mood than when I'm in a bad mood. When I listen to music while in a bad mood I'm much more likely to start thinking about wanting to upgrade my speakers than when I listen while in a good mood. Psychoacoustics at work.
And why I most always think my system sounds better late at night. It's not (unlikely) that the power is cleaner, it's that my head is cleaner of all the day workaday stuff during the day.
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post #2885 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 10:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Randy Bessinger View Post
^^Hope it is ok to post this here.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/03/06/s...e-hearing.html

Seems the brain adjusts over time, but perhaps Dr. Toole cam weigh in on the subject.
Yes, the brain adapts all the time, attempting to rationalize all manner of changes to the sound sources we hear, the sound fields in which we listen and the clothing (think hats, earmuffs, etc.) we wear. In my PhD experiments I was able to temporarily change the perception of acoustic "center" - zero ITD, IAD - by providing a deviant visual cue. Vision dominates over sound localization and the brain cooperated by altering what it perceived as sound from straight ahead. It faded after about an hour. The brain can even adapt to reversing left and right ears, believe it or not.

The understanding we have about the acoustics of the external ear had its origins with a research colleague of mine at the National Research Council of Canada - Edgar A.G. Shaw. He was awarded the Rayleigh Medal in physics for his work, nowadays interpreted through ubiquitous HRTFs. Changing the shapes of cavities within pinnae has been done for generations.
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post #2886 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 10:45 AM
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And why I most always think my system sounds better late at night. It's not (unlikely) that the power is cleaner, it's that my head is cleaner of all the day workaday stuff during the day.
Ya know, I thought it was just me experiencing that same feeling.

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post #2887 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 02:11 PM
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And why I most always think my system sounds better late at night. …
Especially after a glass or two of good wine, beer, bourbon or whatever your favorite liquid audio enhancer might be (not to mention certain recently legalized recreational edibles/smokables). I wonder if @Floyd Toole ever ran any scientifically controlled tests on this factor in speaker reproduction perception?
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post #2888 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
Especially after a glass or two of good wine, beer, bourbon or whatever your favorite liquid audio enhancer might be (not to mention certain recently legalized recreational edibles/smokables). I wonder if @Floyd Toole ever ran any scientifically controlled tests on this factor in speaker reproduction perception?
I don't drink, but maybe I should. Btw, does it have to be liquid?

It's been a very stressful day trying to get a deal closed with a buyer who is old and computer illiterate. I'm also very old, but very computer literate so no end of consternation over this.

I bet if I went down there right now my system would sound like Schiit.
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post #2889 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 03:17 PM
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The article on ear shapes changing sound perception reminds me of how I sometimes use pillows to a similar effect when listening to music no my system. If I lay my head back on the wide pillow of my sofa, it will alter the perception of the sound, brightening and thickening it up. But if I use a small narrow pillow I have to lean my head on, about the width of my head, it avoids serious screwing up of the sound, though sometimes adds a nice bit of "tonal glow" and focus to the sound. Just by altering what's happening to the sound around my ears.
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post #2890 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 03:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dave in Green View Post
Especially after a glass or two of good wine, beer, bourbon or whatever your favorite liquid audio enhancer might be (not to mention certain recently legalized recreational edibles/smokables). I wonder if @Floyd Toole ever ran any scientifically controlled tests on this factor in speaker reproduction perception?
No, no science, but here I trust my own opinion and it is that good wine has a positive effect on sound quality and a good deal more .
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post #2891 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by R Harkness View Post
The article on ear shapes changing sound perception reminds me of how I sometimes use pillows to a similar effect when listening to music no my system. If I lay my head back on the wide pillow of my sofa, it will alter the perception of the sound, brightening and thickening it up. But if I use a small narrow pillow I have to lean my head on, about the width of my head, it avoids serious screwing up of the sound, though sometimes adds a nice bit of "tonal glow" and focus to the sound. Just by altering what's happening to the sound around my ears.

Well then, shouldn't we do a blind AB level matched pillow comparison. In this instance, mono, as in one pillow at a time would be fine in my book.
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post #2892 of 3772 Old 05-20-2019, 07:59 PM
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Here's a relevant post in another thread about how well an inexpensive Sony bookshelf speaker responded to some plastic round-overs on the sides. The anti-diffraction frame made the response smoother, and more consistent at various horizontal angles. If you look closely, you can even see improvements in the impulse response. The same approach could be applied to most box speakers with flat front baffles.

I only have sighted A/B impressions of the sonic impact of the frame, so I wont bother stating those here. Feel free to speculate what you think they might be. However, it seems to me that this technique could be used to investigate the importance of diffraction mitigation in a controlled ABX set-up like they have at Harman.

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-sp...l#post58076502
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post #2893 of 3772 Old 05-24-2019, 07:17 PM
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In the meantime, if your hearing is normal, do everything possible to keep it that way. Musicians earplugs have been my companion for over 30 years. They just turn the volume down, leaving spectrum relatively intact - good for flying, rock concerts, mowing the lawn, etc. www.etymotic.com, the inventors, is a place to start.
Can flying damage your hearing? Noise seems pretty low frequency. Whenever I fly I do use (regular) earplugs just to be on the safe side.
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post #2894 of 3772 Old 05-24-2019, 07:27 PM
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Can flying damage your hearing? Noise seems pretty low frequency. Whenever I fly I do use (regular) earplugs just to be on the safe side.
That brings a good point. Has there been studies (beyond OSHA) that measured the impact of different frequency noise on the loss of hearing that is most associated with enjoying music? Dr. Floyd will definitely know if there are any.
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post #2895 of 3772 Old 05-24-2019, 09:01 PM
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Can flying damage your hearing? Noise seems pretty low frequency. Whenever I fly I do use (regular) earplugs just to be on the safe side.

Many years ago when I was flying to Orlando to have Bob Katz do some mastering work for me, he suggested I use noise cancelling headphones. The higher than normal ambient noise level can cause a temporary threshold shift. I was starting to work immediately upon my arrival at his studio and didn't want any issues with my hearing, so I bought some noise cancelling headphones. I don't fly very often, but like to block the noise when I do.
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post #2896 of 3772 Old 05-25-2019, 06:50 PM
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Many years ago when I was flying to Orlando to have Bob Katz do some mastering work for me, he suggested I use noise cancelling headphones. The higher than normal SPL ambient noise can cause a temporary threshold shift. I was starting to work immediately upon my arrival to his studio and didn't want any issues with my hearing so I bought some noise cancelling headphones. I don't fly very often, but like to block the noise when I do.
I fly most every week for calibration projects, and routinely measure around 100dB on takeoff and 80dB-85dB during flight, depending on type of aircraft and where I'm seated of course. I never fly without my Etymotics or other noise cancelling headphones. I usually just look at SPL, but I want to say the peak noise is usually centered around 500Hz-1KHz ? I have measurements saved somewhere...

There is quite a bit of research on finding ways to reduce cabin noise and vibration out there. If you happen to like airplane cabin background noise, I even found a noise generator online for that !

https://mynoise.net/
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post #2897 of 3772 Old 05-25-2019, 07:54 PM
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Can flying damage your hearing? Noise seems pretty low frequency. Whenever I fly I do use (regular) earplugs just to be on the safe side.
Anymore I wear at least passive noise canceling in-ear monitors (-30dB attenuation from the seal) because planes are pretty damn loud, without breaks, and for potentially a long period of time. Hearos or Howard Leight MAX Lite Foam Ear Plugs are also worth keeping around.
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post #2898 of 3772 Old 05-31-2019, 08:32 PM
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Many years ago when I was flying to Orlando to have Bob Katz do some mastering work for me, he suggested I use noise cancelling headphones. The higher than normal ambient noise level can cause a temporary threshold shift. I was starting to work immediately upon my arrival at his studio and didn't want any issues with my hearing, so I bought some noise cancelling headphones. I don't fly very often, but like to block the noise when I do.
This is a quite interesting - thanks for sharing.

I wonder if getting any sort of (minor) ear fatigue is automatically a sign that you have damaged your hearing in some way? Also, back to flying, is there any data on cabin crews and hear damaging? I don't think I have ever seen them wear any sort of hearing protection but it could be that I just never noticed.
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post #2899 of 3772 Old 05-31-2019, 10:17 PM
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Also: the SPL required to damage our hearing increases the lower the frequency goes. We are more resilient to the low frequencies.

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post #2900 of 3772 Old 06-01-2019, 07:17 AM
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Also: the SPL required to damage our hearing increases the lower the frequency goes. We are more resilient to the low frequencies.
Would love to see any data on that.
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post #2901 of 3772 Old 06-01-2019, 09:43 AM
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Would love to see any data on that.
I don't have any. Saw it here a while back.

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post #2902 of 3772 Old 06-01-2019, 12:06 PM
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Here is a little summary I prepared for a SMPTE committee back in 2014. My new book has additional information, especially Chapter 17.

It shows very clearly that bass frequencies are not the major problem.
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post #2903 of 3772 Old 06-01-2019, 12:38 PM
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Interesting the note about ototoxic drugs. Some info on that: https://www.salemaudiologyclinic.com...c-medications/
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post #2904 of 3772 Old 06-01-2019, 12:53 PM
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Here is a little summary I prepared for a SMPTE committee back in 2014. My new book has additional information, especially Chapter 17.

It shows very clearly that bass frequencies are not the major problem.



Thanks for that Floyd. I read it with interest. (I have tinnitus and go through some miserable bouts of hyperacusis - I'm actually undergoing some treatment for it now).


I've known a couple of film mixers who developed tinnitus and even hyperacusis, seemingly from the job and who had to quit mixing (though as you point out in the article, it may be exacerbated by whatever other sound exposure they'd had).


Although we are less sensitive to bass frequencies, and it's common wisdom that those are not the frequencies that do the damage, I've found for myself that "bass is the enemy" to my hearing comfort. If I'm at a movie theater, I do not normally find the dialogue and higher frequencies bother me, but if there is significant bass - really low rumbles, explosions etc, that sends my tinnitus in to overdrive. Similarly, at bars if music is playing on a sound system it seems to be when there is significant low bass frequencies that it becomes uncomfortable for me. Same with those "boom" cars in which almost nothing but deep, low bass escapes to surround unlucky listeners on the sidewalks. Drives my tinnitus nuts.
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post #2905 of 3772 Old 06-01-2019, 04:31 PM
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Here is a little summary I prepared for a SMPTE committee back in 2014. My new book has additional information, especially Chapter 17.



It shows very clearly that bass frequencies are not the major problem.
Wow..a wealth of info. Thank you.
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post #2906 of 3772 Old 06-02-2019, 12:18 AM
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Here is a little summary I prepared for a SMPTE committee back in 2014. My new book has additional information, especially Chapter 17.

It shows very clearly that bass frequencies are not the major problem.
Thanks for posting this. I think you may have posted it before as I checked my computer and I found I already had a copy. I know I've read it as I have parts of it highlighted but I will read through it again (I wish I could remember everything important that I've read!)
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post #2907 of 3772 Old 06-02-2019, 09:27 AM
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I find the high frequencies annoying when played too loud in the Cinema which I attribute to distortion because, I am not sensitive to this at home at similar volume levels.


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Thiel speakers are being auctioned off. If there is any one in this group who likes Thiel speakers and wants to get one, this may be a good time.
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post #2909 of 3772 Old 06-02-2019, 11:28 AM
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I find the high frequencies annoying when played too loud in the Cinema which I attribute to distortion because, I am not sensitive to this at home at similar volume levels.


- Rich
Cinema sound quality is a lottery. There are standards, but they use the wrong target curve and do not apply it consistently. I explain it in nauseating detail in Chapter 11 of the third edition of my book. Things should change, but there is huge inertia, money and some egos in the way.

As it stands, cinema sound is only for cinemas. Now that we watch movies at home it means that someone has to "repurpose" film sound for distribution to homes, etc. - anywhere that is not a cinema. It is not always done, or done well, as is evident when playing some movies in a truly good system at home. Sadly, music video concerts suffer greatly from inconsistent sound quality.

I participated in a combined SMPTE/AES event in Hollywood a few days ago where the emphasis was on the creation of programs not aimed at cinemas - Netflix was a participant, as was a Sony person substantially responsible for repurposing - mastering if you like - cinema soundtracks for home theaters. Dynamic range is reduced, dialogue levels modified to compensate for lower than reference playback, some mods of immersive "steering" for home systems, and so on.

My role at this event was to explain what the X-curve is, and how very different it is from practice in what I called "the rest of the audio world". It would be great if everybody aimed at the same sound quality target. BTW, subjectively highly-rated audio in both large and small venues is strongly associated with the delivery of a flattish, smooth, direct sound. The X-curve cannot do this. Complicating things is the fact that room curves are not reliable indicators of sound quality and they dominate existing calibrations.

As for cinema sound often appearing to be too bright, or having distortion, it totally depends on the cinema you attended. Many facilities have B-chain systems (loudspeakers, amps and room) that were optimum for analog soundtracks but they are stressed in the age of digital soundtracks and the expanded (upwards of course) dynamic range and average sound levels. So, distortion is a possibility, including amp clipping. In addition there is the "knee" in the X-curve at 2 kHz that I know I often hear as a highish frequency coloration.
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post #2910 of 3772 Old 06-02-2019, 03:35 PM
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Thiel speakers are being auctioned off. If there is any one in this group who likes Thiel speakers and wants to get one, this may be a good time.

It should be noted: These are not the Jim Thiel time/phase coherent designs, but the ones that came after - designed by Mark Mason who came from what one might call "the NRC-school" of design (I just noted that those who used the NRC facilities tended to converge on some design principles).



The Mason-designed Thiels, while they were briefly in the marketplace, actually got very good reviews and measured really well! In fact, more "textbook" well than Jim Thiel's designs IIRC. (And I'm a fan of Jim Thiel's speakers, as I own some).
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cea 2034 , double-blind , listening tests , loudspeaker measurements , spinorama

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