Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › The Objectivist Audio Forum: Post #5 : Is Is Possible To Hear Something That Can't Be Measured?
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:

The Objectivist Audio Forum: Post #5 : Is Is Possible To Hear Something That Can't Be Measured? - Page 3

post #31 of 170
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post
I propose that it's not that we can't measure things that some can hear, but we've not yet learned "how" to quantify/measure/isolate everything that we can hear. We're getting closer and closer though. Our understanding of HRTF is pretty complete, for example, but we do not yet have total understanding of how someone's brain processes sound. I think also we can often overlook seemingly inconsequential things that many can hear, such as extremely minor deviations in frequency response, for example. Another thing to keep in mind is that we, as a species, are sometimes pretty good as comparators, but typically very poor in realizing absolutes, due to accommodation.

Hi KW

Nicely said.

Can you add anything to the definition of "what is this thing that can be heard, but cannot be measured"?

Everyone, including myself, is talking about a "something." Let's try to define it. What is the "something"? If it can be heard, it can be described. If it is heard as the 'difference' between sounds, what is this difference?

I have never heard the thing that can't be measured so I can't describe it. What I can describe is something I "thought" I heard between two USB cables. What I thought I heard was a (slightly) clearer, brighter presentation from an old 1.1 ferrite beaded cable (from an old CD burner) over a new 2.0 cable. It certainly sounded like something that would be measurable if I had the equipment. There was a frequency response in the brightness that should be measureable and maybe a clarity in the bass that might show up on a spectrum analyzer as having less fuzziness around the fundamental notes.

USG
post #32 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post
Totally out of my depth now -- we need some neuroscientists here. I'm going to hit the books and see if I can move to enlightened layman status from my current idiot status in this field.
Out of mine as well (I am a biologist trained in proteins analysis). Like my prof. once told my class, if any of us figures out how the proteins in a brain cell works, there will be a Nobel's price waiting on the doorstep. I doubt that we will see that question being answered anytime soon.
post #33 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by upstateguy View Post
Hi KW

Nicely said.

Can you add anything to the definition of "what is this thing that can be heard, but cannot be measured"?

Everyone, including myself, is talking about a "something." Let's try to define it. What is the "something"? If it can be heard, it can be described. If it is heard as the 'difference' between sounds, what is this difference?

I have never heard the thing that can't be measured so I can't describe it. What I can describe is something I "thought" I heard between two USB cables. What I thought I heard was a (slightly) clearer, brighter presentation from an old 1.1 ferrite beaded cable (from an old CD burner) over a new 2.0 cable. It certainly sounded like something that would be measurable if I had the equipment. There was a frequency response in the brightness that should be measureable and maybe a clarity in the bass that might show up on a spectrum analyzer as having less fuzziness around the fundamental notes.

USG
Again, I do fundamentally believe our instrumentation is easily sensitive enough in all observable parameters to measure everything we hear and perceive. We just haven't learned what things to integrate and measure together. Personally, based upon my experience, I think the thing to which you refer is really a collection of many subtle sub-things, and further, that collection of sub-things can vary from person to person & situation to situation.

Remember, our brains are wonderful mismatch detectors and the differences that we detect from one sampling to another can easily be a collection of subtleties. In order to measure these subtleties, we need to understand the nature of the collection/set so we can focus our instrumentation on the proper areas. Once we've identified the set, can we find a meaningful, repeatable way in which to correlate, quantify, and integrate these data, thusly ending up with useful measurement.
post #34 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by MoonShine View Post
...Albert Einstein: "As our circle of knowledge expands, so does the circumference of darkness surrounding it".
...I do believe that we have a good understanding of the functions, capabilities, and limitations of the human ear (and therefore can measure anything that can be physically perceived) ...
Great Einstein quote. And I agree with you about our brain processing being the crux of this, BUT I can't let you say "and therefore can measure anything that can be physically perceived". If you mean "we can measure today, using today's theories and instruments", then I have to say there is a leap of faith in there.

We think -- we are pretty sure -- we understand everything that physically happens when the headphone gets a signal, transduces, soundwaves hit the ear, etc. But there may be a force or something yet to be discovered. We did not know 2 of the 4 currently recognized forces of nature as late as 1940.

We have a model of the ear. That's it. You simply cannot claim you can measure everything the ear can receive -- and I am talking physics here, not perception in the brain. Maybe we got it all. Maybe we don't. Some fish have magnets in their noses. There could be an instantaneous chemical process in the ear -- triggered by a soundwave -- that for a microsecond creates a ferrous molecule that reacts to a magnetic pulse off the wires of the headphones.

Would you bet your life that this does not happen?

If someone discovers this in 2018 we will say "Ah ha!". It will be called "magnet hearing" and will be the basis of a new type of hearing aid.

Science fiction? Maybe. Did anyone think of the transitor effect before those guys at Bell Labs. No.

I have the entire history of science on my side. We may physically perceive something that we have never measured, thought to measure, or even new existed.

Since listening tests wrap up both this concept AND the perception/reaction concept, let's do listening tests! Engineering bench measurements are for the designers and builders of hi fi ... we are the consumers, we should listen.

Listening test to us are like taste tests to the food industry. The right way to go.

I will argue this point until hell freezes over; then I propose to do battle on the ice.
post #35 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post
Again, I do fundamentally believe our instrumentation is easily sensitive enough in all observable parameters to measure everything we hear and perceive...
I am a scientist, well-trained. Not a nut. But your belief is just that -- a belief. "All" observable parameters that we know of. See my answer to MoonShine.

How can we be so relaxed when in the last 60 years we discovered two new forces of nature? OK OK they operate only at the particle level ... but still.

The fact that we can hear things we can't measure means either: (a) it is about perception after the physical act of hearing, i.e, brain chemistry, or (b) there is a force, or an effect, so short-lived or so strange or so subtle, that we have not discovered it yet.

You can reject the premise, and say we cannot hear what we cannot measure. But let's accept the premise for now. Can't hurt -- we are going to test it. That's what experimentation is all about! Then it's (a), or (b), or both.

You cannot rule out (b). No way. You can hope. But no scientist should rule out (b). And I am talking science, not divine intervention or other things that people believe ... I have no comments on those beliefs. Just science.

Here's the beauty part: it doesn't matter. Occam's razor is my friend here. Listening tests tell the story for us, indifferent to whether the cause is (a) or (b).

We do know that measurements showing poor numbers means most ears will not like the sound of the gear, that's why engineers make the measurements, and I suppose we could take measurements as shortcuts to avoid listening to bad things ... but the wisdom of the community has already told us what the short list is.

So to answer questions where people say they hear a difference and we can't measure it, what else is there to do? Listen!

Listening tests cater to both (a) and (b).
post #36 of 170
kwkarth -- sorry, I did you a dis-service. You introduced a choice (c) that I did not pay attention to, and it is a valid explanation.

(c) is: we can measure what it is that people claim they hear, just it is very subtle. We need to make a lot of very detailed, clinical measurements of physical parameters and combine them, weight them, integrate (your word) them, correlate them, in ways we have never done before. Because the ear is more sensitive than we imagine ... the problem is when we say "that difference [we just measured] is inaudible"!

Your position is that we have all the measurements, but the wrong conclusion.

Could be. Good point. I see it. I'll add (c) to my list.

But I still have the razor -- (a) or (b) or (c) ... doesn't matter.
post #37 of 170
Wavoman,
I completely agree with you. My statements are only my suppositions based on my life experience thus far. I am certainly open to, and expectant of discovering new things in all realms of science. When we design experiments, we have to begin with some suppositions, then as we measure, evaluate, and perhaps discover, we redesign the experiment to embrace the new discovery and move forward.

History/experience should only be used as a guide post, not a hitching post.
post #38 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by kwkarth View Post
History/experience should only be used as a guide post, not a hitching post.
Wow what a great line! I am stealing it. You have been notified!

Playing hooky, gotta go back to real work.
post #39 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post
Wow what a great line! I am stealing it. You have been notified!

Playing hooky, gotta go back to real work.
I got it from someone else too, and while I don't remember to whom belongs the credit, I will always remember the concept.
post #40 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by wavoman View Post
Great Einstein quote. And I agree with you about our brain processing being the crux of this, BUT I can't let you say "and therefore can measure anything that can be physically perceived". If you mean "we can measure today, using today's theories and instruments", then I have to say there is a leap of faith in there.

We think -- we are pretty sure -- we understand everything that physically happens when the headphone gets a signal, transduces, soundwaves hit the ear, etc. But there may be a force or something yet to be discovered. We did not know 2 of the 4 currently recognized forces of nature as late as 1940.

We have a model of the ear. That's it. You simply cannot claim you can measure everything the ear can receive -- and I am talking physics here, not perception in the brain. Maybe we got it all. Maybe we don't. Some fish have magnets in their noses. There could be an instantaneous chemical process in the ear -- triggered by a soundwave -- that for a microsecond creates a ferrous molecule that reacts to a magnetic pulse off the wires of the headphones.

Would you bet your life that this does not happen?

If someone discovers this in 2018 we will say "Ah ha!". It will be called "magnet hearing" and will be the basis of a new type of hearing aid.

Science fiction? Maybe. Did anyone think of the transitor effect before those guys at Bell Labs. No.

I have the entire history of science on my side. We may physically perceive something that we have never measured, thought to measure, or even new existed.

Since listening tests wrap up both this concept AND the perception/reaction concept, let's do listening tests! Engineering bench measurements are for the designers and builders of hi fi ... we are the consumers, we should listen.

Listening test to us are like taste tests to the food industry. The right way to go.

I will argue this point until hell freezes over; then I propose to do battle on the ice.
I see. A "new wavelength" that we may not be aware of yet(consciously, at least). Good point.
post #41 of 170
I work with engineers who laugh at some of my audio experiences. They’ve printed out countless articles proving audio is all the same and there’s no audible difference in cables, power cords, digital sources etc.


So I’ve asked them if they ever heard a beautiful, detailed sound stage where the band is distinctly placed before you compared to a presentation where the band sounds like it’s playing in a phone both- Yes is the response.

Then I ask what is that parameter and how do you measure it. I’ve never gotten an answer- more like hmmm interesting question.


Mitch
post #42 of 170
Quote:
Listening test to us are like taste tests to the food industry. The right way to go.
I must say I disagree with this statement. Even comparing a chemical sense like taste to one like hearing, two senses with different detection mechanisms and very, very different modes of perception is disingenuous in my opinion. Taste (especially in conjunction with smell) is a much more concrete type of perception than hearing. It is more "real". Taste and smell are caused by the presence of real chemicals on the tongue and in the nose, chemicals that activate specific receptors in specific ways. Anyone who tries hard enough can will themselves into hearing anything they want in a piece of audio equipment. It isn't so easy to alter your taste or smell perception. I would even say that out of all the senses, hearing is the least accurate and most fallible. (This isn't to say that other perceptions can't be affected by internal biases or feelings, hence the need for DBT tests, but in my experience, hearing is especially prone to this.)
post #43 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by monolith View Post
Be definition no, it is not possible to hear something that can't be measured. The only problem is the sensetivity of measuring devices, and knowing what you're listening/measuring for.
So the Romans were all deaf?
post #44 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiccoloNamek View Post
I must say I disagree with this statement. Even comparing a chemical sense like taste to one like hearing, two senses with different detection mechanisms and very, very different modes of perception is disingenuous in my opinion. Taste (especially in conjunction with smell) is a much more concrete type of perception than hearing. It is more "real". Taste and smell are caused by the presence of real chemicals on the tongue and in the nose, chemicals that activate specific receptors in specific ways. Anyone who tries hard enough can will themselves into hearing anything they want in a piece of audio equipment. It isn't so easy to alter your taste or smell perception. I would even say that out of all the senses, hearing is the least accurate and most fallible. (This isn't to say that other perceptions can't be affected by internal biases or feelings, hence the need for DBT tests, but in my experience, hearing is especially prone to this.)
Great post! Very important point! I agree totally -- we have no argument. I did not mean to claim that listening tests would be as easy as taste testing, but still the food industry is showing us the way!

See what I mean? You actually help my point! The fact that taste is so reliable means the food industry could just use chemical measurements ... heck, if it measures "salty" then it must be, and everyone will react the same way (which you point out). But even with that reliability to bank on, the food industry relies on taste tests for marketing!

We must rely on listening tests, scientific controlled and analyzed, listener blind. Your excellent point on the variability of hearing is exactly one I made previously re the statistical methods -- you can't aggregate listening tests the way you do agricultural tests. Everyone is different. But analytical methods exist that allow a valid analysis (individual block designs, sample size one, etc.), and in most cases you don't even need to compute them -- when you look at the data the answer hits you right between the eyes ... I mean ears, in this case.
post #45 of 170
Quote:
Originally Posted by braillediver View Post
...ask what is that parameter and how do you measure it. I’ve never gotten an answer- more like hmmm interesting question.
Oh that's wonderful! Brilliant and clever. I wish I could see their faces!
New Posts  All Forums:Forum Nav:
  Return Home
  Back to Forum: Sound Science
Head-Fi.org › Forums › Equipment Forums › Sound Science › The Objectivist Audio Forum: Post #5 : Is Is Possible To Hear Something That Can't Be Measured?