How ears shape audio

September 27, 2021
 by Paul McGowan

14 comments on “How ears shape audio”

  1. While we can learn what an instrument sounds like, and recognize as such, our ears with their uniqueness (and affects of age) may account for differences in our listening preferences (of speakers and equipment)

    1. I get that sometimes. Wondering if I have been going to too many loud rock concerts the last few years. Hearing loss is a given as we age. Hope I can still enjoy my hi end system as my ears change.

      1. Yah, it’s a drag. I got mine from decades of being in too many loud musical situations and/or auto races. Definitely has put a damper on listening. Good luck.

  2. Many decades ago I was at Chicago CES audio show with a couple of friends listening to early Magneplanars. Some one had passes out golden plastic ears at the show that could fit over our ears. Next to us was a well known audio reviewer/recording engineer and he was giving Wendel Diller a hard time. Finally one of my friends took his golden ear and handed it to the reviewer saying ‘ here, you need this more than I do’.

    1. Good afternoon Hahax!
      What you said in your comment, reminds me of a conversation I had with a cab driver some 23 years ago.
      I had him to drive me to Stereo Types in Daytona Beach Florida.
      I told him that I was concetering buying myself a tube amp.
      He asked me why.
      I told him that tubes have a warmer and much sweeter sound then transistors do.
      He told me that he couldn’t tell the difference.
      But when I asked him why, he told me that, he was tone depth.
      I was only 26 years old then.
      I thought to myself, “is there really a such thingg as being tone depth?”
      I’ll lieve this to all of my Audiophile friends here at PS Audio to figure outt.

  3. They actually had big ears in the 1980s you funnel more music into your ear canal you looked wacky though lol. It was the biggest improvement in sound bang for the buck than any big-ticket upgrade could be. Just cup your ears and see.

  4. Vincent Van Gogh was an persuasive argument for balance controls if I ever heard one

    and the why he became an artist rather than a musician, because he didn’t have an ear for music.

  5. Paul just touched on one of my most interesting topics.
    Perception whether it be audio or visual.
    The humans ability to perceive is incredibly intricate and interesting and yet one of the most flawed systems around.
    Just look at our politics and religious systems and tell me perception is not exquisitely complicated and often flawed.

  6. I only hear out of one ear and use a set of hearing aids that wirelessly transfers sound from the left side to the right side. I use them whether I’m listening to live music or music through my (mostly PSAdudio) system, and I can usually tell the difference. Whether or not I’m missing a true stereo experience I can’t tell, because my left ear has never worked. But whatever the case, I still enjoy the music.

    1. The device you are using is an interesting item and is called a “CROS” hearing aid.
      CROS stands for:
      Contralateral Routing of Off Side Signal
      Simply its an electro-acoustic funnel. It does not restore binaural hearing or the ability to localize as a function of time of arrival of the signal to the ear, but the qualitative difference between the the transferred signal and the non-transferred signal may assist in placing the auditory event.
      Glad to hear it is helpful.


  7. All the effort that goes into itemizing the gear we use for listening, although not a waste of time, offers limited insight into the evaluation capabilities of reviewers.

    What if they published the results of their hearing tests in an easy to understand way. Knowing a reviewer’s ability to hear through the frequencies could go a long way towards making sense of their observations.

  8. What your audio system puts out is something you hear and potentially feel. If it sounds to you like the live performance sounds to you it is a great audio system. My ears have changed as do all others, over the years. Hearing aides or cupping your hands over your years can make the sound a bit clearer if you have lowered high frequency sensitivity. Making the sound still louder also help your ears pick up those frequencies that are lowered in your hearing capability. Needing glasses to drive does not fix a dirty windshield. A poor audio system is sort of like a dirty or distorted windshield.

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