The Secret Life Of Sound Perception

2453 words - 10 pages

It was only five years ago when I started to understand the importance of sound, but not the way I would have expected. It all began when my friend Marshall Kay invited me over to his shop to take a look at something he had been working on. When I arrived Marshall took me to the back of his shop and into a large room. Once inside I saw a chair which was facing two individual speakers. Marshall asked me to sit down, face the speakers, and close my eyes. He then dimmed the lights and began to play a song. As I listened I was amazed by the quality and clarity of the sound. It was nothing like I had ever heard before. I could hear the sound from directly in front of me, to the far left, far right, and even behind me. I felt like I was in the audience and actually listening to a real orchestra. It was easy to pinpoint both the depth and location of each instrument, and was the most realistic reproduction of sound I had ever heard. After the song was over Marshall asked me what I thought. Initially I was at a loss for words, and could only nod my head. I pulled my thoughts together and began to ask questions. “Is this a trick?” “Where are the other speakers?” He laughed to himself and said “only the two that you see across from you.” Puzzled I racked my brain frantically to comprehend this phenomenon. Marshall explained that our brains are trained to fill in the sound that is not really there, and this was known as a phantom stereo image. I was amazed by how wonderful and exciting this one listening experience had been. I knew right then and there that I was hooked on sound quality and wanted to learn more. I wanted other people to experience the same sensation I had that day. I began to wonder if sound quality really matters, and if people are able to distinguish between varying calibers of speakers.
Some people believe that sound quality does not matter and that all speakers sound exactly the same. However, based on research it has been determined that listeners of average hearing do prefer the exact same sound qualities and that there is a relationship between a listener’s preferences and the measured data of a flat frequency response curve. Even though many cultures appear to prefer different sound qualities, humans do in fact share similar values and perceptions which research has proven. A person’s culture does not dictate their preference of sound quality no matter the genre of music they prefer.
Sound is something that is usually not seen, but only heard. We use it in our daily lives while conversing with a loved one, listening to a favorite song on the radio, and even knowing when we have visitors at the door. Sound is something that everyone can appreciate and enjoy. Most people do not understand what it is or how it works. Sound is made up of a series of vibrations which form waves. These waves travel through the air, in the water and through various materials on earth into our ears. Sound waves travel in cycles and each individual...

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