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amps, speakers and test mic's vs. ears, brains and biology

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by will33, Dec 13, 2013.

  1. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Anybody got links to some reading on how we percieve and process sound outside of the usual wikipedia and fletcher-munson stuff? Yeah, you can go googling and find a ton of stuff, a lot of which doesn't have to do with music interperetation specifically, or is some masters thesis you'd have to be a biologist to understand in the first place. :)

    My thinking is this......there are all kinds of tone-shapers and speaker systems out there that many of us like or don't like for various reasons and all sort of methods of "trickery" to make the human ear hear, or not hear, various things. We can take this stuff, make all kinds of measurements of it under all sorts of conditions in an effort to see what it is or isn't doing to try and find out what it is about it that we like or don't like, but it still all boils down to the biology of how our ears and brains pick up, process, and percieve what's happening. Obviously, music isn't test tones, ears are not microphones and brains are not sound cards.

    So, anybody got any links to some reading on this that might be a little more specific to what we do here as musicians, that also, with the help of maybe searching some unfamiliar, subject-specific vocabulary terms, might be understood by a non-biologist?

    Thanks and Merry Christmas.
  2. check out "This Is Your Brain On Music" by Daniel Levitin. I know some real psycho-acousticians (who are TBers) have issues with parts of his methodology and conclusions but it's a good start.

    FWIW Levitin was an engineer/producer here in the SF Bay Area for a number of years so he's knowledgeable about music and music production and recording. He went to Stanford and is now a prof up at McGill U in Montreal.
  3. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Cool, thanks. I'll start there.
  4. jnewmark

    jnewmark Just wanna play the groove. Supporting Member

    Aug 31, 2006
    Stax 1966
    Play guitar.
    Good luck. I started to read this book years ago, Still have'nt finished yet. Not an easy read, imho.
  5. Ask Mike Arnopol, BigE speakers are pushing the envelope of understanding / measuring.
  6. Interceptor

    Interceptor Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Madison, WI
    Just a few ideas:

    http://www.aes.org/aeshc/pdf/frayne_[history-of]-motion-picture-sound-recording.pdf (the references at the end are pretty fun)
    SMPTE (Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers) has an amazing archive. Stuff like white papers written in the '30's! Requires a membership. (I'm a SMPTE member.)
    Go spelunking at the local University library. There are gems there!
  7. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Indeed they are. Also interested in stuff like why smoothing response charts to 1/3 octave is fine because the ear/brain system can't resolve much finer than that anyway. Or like how lots of peaks and dips very close together may measure as severe comb filtering but our brains putit together as being "smooth". Or how if you're standing closer to one PA speaker than the other, your brain latches on to and focuses on the first arrival sound and doesn't hear the far one as being garbled or "late", even though it is. Some of that would also get into the philosophy of not needing fundamentals as the brain "fills it in for you", like psychoacoustic bass enhancers, etc. There are biological reasons why all that works...it's not all in just making a technically "better" speaker..
  8. Interceptor

    Interceptor Supporting Member

    Mar 29, 2005
    Madison, WI
  9. will33


    May 22, 2006
  10. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    If I where you will I would reckon my son Henry is probably the best bloke to talk too on that subject try face booking him, as he is one of those pushing the boundaries of the reproduction technology as Britain's leading in car audio systems designer and ICE sound off champion many times.
    This is the current project for exhibition and inter driver manufacturer competition:
    Other than that talk to Mr Danley of Danley Labs in the US.
  11. Passinwind

    Passinwind I Know Nothing Supporting Member Commercial User

    Dec 3, 2003
    Columbia River Gorge, WA.
    Owner/Designer &Toaster Tech Passinwind Electronics
    Maybe this one? : http://acousticslab.org/psychoacoustics/

    I was lucky enough to work for a few years with a few excellent biologists in the somewhat related field of hydroacoustics. I'll see if I can locate any of my old reference bibliographies, there were a few great old books in there that your local library should be able to get for you.
  12. Here is my take, as a bassist of many decades who happens to have a doctorate in psychometrics/statistics:

    Here is the continuum of perceived tone (often relabeled 'flat and transparent') on Talkbass:

    SUCKS <-------------------------------->Awesome Godliness

    This summarizes the average perception across the population of bassists for almost every piece of gear and every combination of pieces of gear that exists. The distribution of these perceptions is as close to a true normal distribution as you can get (bell curve), within each piece of gear and combinations of pieces of gear (i.e., rigs and basses).

    When you take that 'perception' and correlate it with technical measurements of amps and cabs, the correlation is an almost perfect zero.:p

    The most interesting finding is that the correlation between differences in perception of tone (i.e., the difference between one person's opinion and another's) and getting really pissed off with the other person is almost perfect.

  13. christw

    christw Get low!

    May 11, 2008
    Dayton OH
    I want to be Tesla (tinkerer at Dayton Amp Co)
    I'm in for this thread as I find all of this terribly interesting!
  14. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Skimming through, it looks like there's a lot of good stuff there I could grasp. Textbooks to look for are always good too.

    My only experience in hydroacoustics involves a mans lake cabin we used to help my Mom and Dad take care of when we were kids. The old man had the sunfish trained to where if we banged on the metal dock post with a rock, they could hear it all through the water and knew to come gather around the dock so we could feed them :)
  15. Marko 1

    Marko 1 Supporting Member

    Mar 9, 2009
    N.E. Ohio
  16. JimmyM


    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    I like knowing the tech stuff, and I would encourage anyone to learn it, but there are things that "violate" these technical edicts that I really don't care about. For example, I couldn't care less about beaming, nor do I care much about two-pickup basses having phasing issues, although I do end up most of the time with just the neck pickup on. But that's a sonic choice, not a worry about phasing.
  17. Sid Fang

    Sid Fang Reformed Fusion Player Supporting Member

    Jun 12, 2008
    Helmholtz "On the Sensation of Tone" (1863) is the founding work of psychoacoustics and an astonishing piece of work. The experiments he devised to analyze sound waves without any electronics being available were unbelievably clever, and the low-tech Victorian science somehow makes the basic principles stand out clearly.
  18. Bassmec


    May 9, 2008
    Ipswich UK
    Proprietor Springvale Studios
    We have got this far down this thread and nobody has mentioned this Guy:
    Michael is unfortunately rather dead, but he is still the absolute god of this subject.
    Read everything he ever wrote that you can get your hands on Will 33, or just ask my son Henry what gives, as he has absorbed this subject in its entirety,
    he has Aspergers and has made this subject the focus for his OCD and has used his utterly unreal attention span on this, he has also applied what he has learned to produce one off sound equipment of so far unsurpassed measured ability.
  19. will33


    May 22, 2006
    Again, thanks everybody for adding info.

    Bassmec, glad you're here. I know you have mountains of experience in recording. I rarely use facebook but I'll look up your son on there. Seems to have inherited some of his Dad's mad-scientist type drive and love for music. :)

    @ Jimmy -- your post is somewhat along the lines of what has me thinking on this. There is stuff we find pleasing to the ear whether it obeys all the "rules" technically or not. That is what interests me. BTW, on any 2-pickup bass I've ever had, I've liked them both full on, or biased slightly towards one or the other, but not either soloed single coil, even though that would be technically more accurate or "better".

    I can't remember the thread, but BobbyBld from Peavey wrote something on here just the other day that went something like, "if there's one thing I've learned in this business, it's that sought after tone and technical perfection rarely go hand in hand". That says a lot.

  20. Yeah, this is (as I attempted with a touch of humor above) the point of my post.

    This is, IMO, the prime cause of all the drama in threads about certain cabs (well, mostly one line of cabs:p) where the amateur EE's believe they have 'found the truth' due to a limited array of technical specs. The most kick **s woofer and mid driver don't always sound the most kick **s for sure;)