The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126164   Message #2802979
Posted By: GUEST,Mr Red
04-Jan-10 - 10:39 AM
Thread Name: Why music sounds worse.
Subject: RE: Why music sounds worse.
Before Ralphie ROARS into action

I have been saying this for years. It is not just the compression, though the compression has a beneficial effect in that it puts up the average versus the peaks. The inner ear has a fluid whos viscosity increases when the brain detects loud noises. But it responds to the average (RMS that is) and has a time constant of the order of 300-500mS. This means that the peaks do the dammage and the brain can't catch-up within a second (approx until the bulk of the viscosity change nears the asymptote of the exponential increase).

The aesthetic problem is that the as the viscosity changes it clamps the hairs for safety and the little ones don't get to move much or to put it another way, the higher viscosity damps transmission of sound down the cochlea. That means the higher frequencies are suppressed. HiFi is less Hi, when volume is Hi! Fletcher-Munson curves showed that 50 years ago.

Another fact that dear Ralphie hasn't quite got his head round yet is that if you constantly listen to one volume (or frequency distribution) then the brain compensates as best it can and tries to make sense of the lower Fi (attemptoing to boost the higher frequencies). That then becomes the norm. So when you then are presented with a similar scene (visual) at a lower volume the brain is already compensating for a lower Fi that is not there. It sounds tinny to those ears! I have heard him remark just so!

Another effect that demonstrates the power of the brain to compensate, yet not realise what it is doing is: "Mortimer's Reflex". In a loud environment we raise our own volume. I do it when wearing earplugs, others do it when wearing earphones with music playing. I am sure we all can cite examples where have heard the increased in a person's volume even though we can't hear the noise they can.

I am sure there will be rejoinders - by loud people who like loud music. That is they way they like it. That is why they get angry and loud when they are reminded of the dangers and the anti-social aspects of sharing an environment. I bet Radio3 wouldn't let them get away with it.