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Ways to improve hearing ability? - Page 4

post #46 of 55
I haven't heard any of these but a fundemental point is that we can train/learn - and our learning ability does extend to some aspects of audio

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post #47 of 55
I would recommend learning an instrument. Not only is it a very rewarding experience but it also allows your ears to really get accustomed to the small nuances in sound and will ultimately allow you to pick up more detail in music.
post #48 of 55
I think the best way to judge a the quality or the effectiveness of an headphone can be done only by a specialist.. i did that choice by taking one of my friend who is good at music as he is classically trained. so i think we should make some efforts to learn one or the other instrument. Thanks
post #49 of 55
Thread Starter 
I will probably be picking up the Piano. I have a non-audiophile friend who has been playing for a long time and when she tried out some headphones at a store, it seemed like she was very comfortable at hearing differences unlike me who has to struggle. Coupled with many of you guys recommending me to pick up an instrument, i am convinced it will help me hear things in more detail. Thank you very much to everyone for your suggestions and input!
post #50 of 55
another trick you need to do, to really fine tune yourself, as the distance varies between you and the noise; take special note to the tone of the sound.

the further away the sound is, sometimes the tone will try to change.
you have to manually adjust yourself so you hear the same 'tone' from the sound - no matter what the distance is (because either you can hear the noise or you cant)
post #51 of 55
I don't think that playing an instrument helps in judging sound quality, because musicians are located on the other side of the instrument than the audience, and some studies show that usual instruments have a very different spectral balance according to the direction of sound emission.

Think about brass instruments. They are very directive. They mostly radiate sound forward. The sound that the player is used to hear is very different from the "right" sound. Asking a brass player to judge the sound of speakers would be like asking someone who has listened to speakers from behind all his life !

Even violin has a very chaotic response according to the direction. They radiate a lot of high frequency frontwards and upwards, above the audience, where the microphones are often located. Sound engineers must take this into account. A microphone recording violins from above the audience will get harsh sounds compared to the one that the audience listens to, which is in turn different from what the violonist hears.

Soundstage is also very different. A concertist is used to hear instruments all around him or her, including behind. That's not a good reference for judging the soundstage balance !

Sean Olive has published an article about hearing training. His findings show that trained listeners, blind listening to speakers, give much more stable and reproductible ratings than untrained listeners : Audio Musings by Sean Olive: Part 2 - Differences in Performances of Trained Versus Untrained Listeners

The funny part is that audio reviewers scored lower than audio retailers ! The score is an indication of reliability, but I didn't understand well how the score is calculated. It seems that it is not a DBT performance, but rather a indication of the reliability of the listeners ratings against themselves. Higher scores would mean repeatable ratings, and lower score variable ratings.

In may 2009, Sean Olive said that he was considering publishing his training software : "Harman's How to Listen" - Hydrogenaudio Forums

I recently posted some samples in order to help people training with ABX tests. They are not representative of all sonic differences that one is supposed to hear, but unlike most ABX tests, they focus on hardware differences rather than mp3 differences. They feature two vinyl vs CD comparisons, one comparison between two different masters, a comparison between two headphone amplifiers, and a comparison between analog and digital mixing.

Very easy : vinyl vs CD. Vinyl taken near the end of a 33 rpm side, where distortion is maximum. The frequency responses differ by about 10 or 15 dB.


Very easy : two different masters, both taken from CD. The frequency responses differ by about 5 or 10 dB.


These two tests are not really aimed at testing the hearing ability, but rather to familiarize the listener with the ABX software and procedure, and to make him or her confident with the process of DBT.

More difficult, vinyl vs CD, but taken from the beginning of a 33 rpm side, where distortion is minimal (this is the same vinyl / CD couple as above !). The frequency responses are within 3 dB.


The difference is still plainly audible, but this time, it is small enough to confuse the listener in the ABX process. It is necessary not to rush, to be careful about listening fatigue, and to maintain the attention focused on the difference in order not to make mistakes.

Now, the two difficult tests :


This is the comparison between two headphone amplifiers. The signal was taken from the output while the amplifier was feeding the headphones. The frequency responses are within +/- 1 dB for musical frequencies, with a +2 dB at 16 kHz in the Marantz file for those who can hear it.
Some listeners find this test more difficult than the next. It may be due to the fact that the difference is mostly located in low frequencies, while the other tests have all significant differences in the high frequencies.

Clue : in the Marantz file, the bass semiquavers running from an ear to the other sound heavier (+1 dB at 100 Hz). In order to succeed the ABX, I had to rise the playback volume.

Another difficult test : an analog mix emulated on Pro-tools. Taken from the digidesign challenge.


The Jazz2B file has barely +1 dB at 10 kHz, but frequency response might not be the main difference.

All these files have been successfully ABXed by several listeners.
post #52 of 55
If you cant hear a difference even after a reasonable time why not simple sell it
to spend your money in somewhere you would notice the difference.
And starting playing an instrument to be able to hear nuances in you equip. does really sound absurd to me.
After all you have lots of choices for a new hobby.
post #53 of 55
Originally Posted by Uncle Erik View Post
Start playing an instrument. If you've always been curious about the guitar, trombone, drums, or whatever, buy one and take lessons. It's an indirect effect, but it will work wonders on your ears. You'll get an entirely different perspective on music and you'll start to pick up on the finer points of reproduction.
I plan to take this advice...
post #54 of 55
A little late but somehow missed this thread:

1. Learn an instrument as suggested by Uncle Erik.
2. When going to a restaurant try to listen in on what other people are saying. Focus on someone and try to hear them.
3. Buy a program like "Golden Ears".
4. On orchestral CD's, try to listen to each individual instrument on the soundstage and draw them out.
5. Listen to loud CD's at a low volume and try to get used to it.
6. Bob Katz recommends listening to Chesky Demo CD's and studying the aspects of the recordings. He also recommends Golden Ears.
post #55 of 55
what's "Golden Ears"? a friend of mine has the full "perfect pitch" CD serie, he told me that if you really work on it it's fantastic!
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