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Gnostic

Aural Perception

14 posts in this topic

I was listening to a particularly murky recording the other day and I did something I rarely do. I used my media players equalizer and turned the treble way up.

Because the equalizer is hidden within the player I forgot I'd left it set.

In short when I returned later and listened to a few tracks I thought how much more vibrant the system was sounding than usual.

Eventually got to a track with an already piercing treble and realized my mistake.

Switched equalizer off. System sounded bloody awful, like I'd thrown a duvet over each speaker.

Within a couple of hours however it had once again become the model of clarity.

What is going on ? I mean my system is either muddled and confused or it is clean and clear.

It can't be both, or can it.

Do our favourite components sound as good as we think or are we simply willing them to sound good.

Help.:shock:

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A can of worms here, I think. ;)

I think the ear/mind can adjust remarkably well to changes. Things like tonal balance and colouration where no information is added/subtracted can be adjusted to in quite a short period of time. Also a heightened treble can give the illusion of more detail/rez - but it is an illusion (although one that some hifi manufacturers take advantage of!), the info is still there, just not so obvious.

I remember when I had Quad 63 stats, I went around to a friend who had the older Quad 57 - urrghhh .... they sounded horribly coloured compared to my 63s, but within a few minutes that was forgotten and in some ways the older speakers gave the new ones a bit of a thrashing.

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JANDL100 wrote:

A can of worms here, I think. ;)

I hope not. I don't want this thread to become a believer/sceptic punch up. I asked this question in all seriousness.

I was genuinely shocked by how muffled the system sounded and later by how it seemed perfectly normal again.

Clearly the system didn't sound different, my perception merely changed.

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I think your brain (when we have one) compensates, or probably adjusts to what it is hearing until you accept the information you are receiving. That is until something so obviously wrong comes along that you can not accept it. That is also I believe why a lot of quick fire A/B dems give at best misleading, and at worst false results. We have a tendency to take change as better, especially brighter changes, as it gives the false impression of more detail. I am fairly sure its sometimes used to the demonstrators advantage when they are setting up auditions. By careful placement in the playing order they can 'push' the sound artefact's of the ''chosen'' kit.

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A few years ago they did an experiment where individuals were fitted with glasses that inverted everything they looked at. Everything was upside down. Within a few days the brain had sorted everything out and these people were then seeing everything normally. Removing the glasses then inverted everything again until the brain corrected the issue. I think we under estimate how well our brain helps our senses to adjust to the things in our environment we cannot escape from. I learned to tune out the noise a 3.5kva petrol generator made that I was required to sleep only a few yards from. If the generator developed a fault (or ran out of fuel) I would wake up immediately. I personally try not to assess anything in isolation. When I wasevaluating a modified componentI had a stock original to comapre it to. When listening to my Denon DVD2900 which is a work in progress, I go back to my Sony ES CD player as a reference every so often. The brain needs to be challenged or it becomes lazy.

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Everything we hear is a processed event. The processing goes on in the squidgy stuff between our ears. The idea hearing is a simple model of sound waves bouncing off eardrums sending impulses to our brains really is far too simplistic. There’s much more to it.

So, adjustment of this sort is nothing remarkable, quite normal.

Other examples include digital signal processing effects, which exploit the brains processing of sound to manufacture a desired perception, and the influence of personal expectation on perceived sound e.g. auto-suggestion.

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Cable Monkey wrote:

A few years ago they did an experiment where individuals were fitted with glasses that inverted everything they looked at. Everything was upside down. Within a few days the brain had sorted everything out and these people were then seeing everything normally. Removing the glasses then inverted everything again until the brain corrected the issue. I think we under estimate how well our brain helps our senses to adjust to the things in our environment we cannot escape from. I learned to tune out the noise a 3.5kva petrol generator made that I was required to sleep only a few yards from. If the generator developed a fault (or ran out of fuel) I would wake up immediately. I personally try not to assess anything in isolation. When I wasevaluating a modified componentI had a stock original to comapre it to. When listening to my Denon DVD2900 which is a work in progress, I go back to my Sony ES CD player as a reference every so often. The brain needs to be challenged or it becomes lazy.

Yes, I have developed that facility with certain members of my family.

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This is why neutrality is perhaps overrated. How can you tell what is neutral anyway, when after 10 mins it starts to sound normal. This is the danger in doing fast A-B comparisons, they can be extremely mis-leading.

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JANDL100 wrote:

A can of worms here, I think. ;)

I think the ear/mind can adjust remarkably well to changes. Things like tonal balance and colouration where no information is added/subtracted can be adjusted to in quite a short period of time. Also a heightened treble can give the illusion of more detail/rez - but it is an illusion (although one that some hifi manufacturers take advantage of!), the info is still there, just not so obvious.

I remember when I had Quad 63 stats, I went around to a friend who had the older Quad 57 - urrghhh .... they sounded horribly coloured compared to my 63s, but within a few minutes that was forgotten and in some ways the older speakers gave the new ones a bit of a thrashing.

Ah! So could this be an explanation for that running-in or burn-in excusethat audiophiles like to use for when a new audio component is not living up to expectations? A few (hundred) hours later and all is forgotten and that new audio component becomes the next best thing and thrashes the component they replaced.;)The mind is wonderful thing isn't it yet we know so little about how it works.:)

Enjoy the musicâ„¢

Lawrie:D

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Lawrie wrote:

Ah! So could this be an explanation for that running-in or burn-in excusethat audiophiles like to use for when a new audio component is not living up to expectations? A few (hundred) hours later and all is forgotten and that new audio component becomes the next best thing and thrashes the component they replaced.

Not so sure about that....i know i have swapped between old and new boxes of the same model and still heard a significant difference...but do agree that tastes change and sometimes we are more accomodating...certainly when just stumping up the odd £1000 here and there..lol

:brick:

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Lawrie wrote:

JANDL100 wrote:
A can of worms here, I think. ;)

I think the ear/mind can adjust remarkably well to changes. Things like tonal balance and colouration where no information is added/subtracted can be adjusted to in quite a short period of time. Also a heightened treble can give the illusion of more detail/rez - but it is an illusion (although one that some hifi manufacturers take advantage of!), the info is still there, just not so obvious.

I remember when I had Quad 63 stats, I went around to a friend who had the older Quad 57 - urrghhh .... they sounded horribly coloured compared to my 63s, but within a few minutes that was forgotten and in some ways the older speakers gave the new ones a bit of a thrashing.

Ah! So could this be an explanation for that running-in or burn-in excusethat audiophiles like to use for when a new audio component is not living up to expectations? A few (hundred) hours later and all is forgotten and that new audio component becomes the next best thing and thrashes the component they replaced.;)The mind is wonderful thing isn't it yet we know so little about how it works.:)

Enjoy the musicâ„¢

Lawrie:D

It explains short term adjustments. It doesn't explain changes over the longer term which is normally when burning in is proported to happen

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As Mosfet said, it's a hugely complicated sense with both physical response and mental calculation having huge impact on perceived sound.

I spent a whole day reading about hearing a few months ago and it staggered me, a lot of the science was a bit tricky to switch over to layman's terms but it's worth reading about nonetheless.

Great place to start is here.

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