Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Welcome to My Blog on The Science of Sound Recording and Reproduction

This blog is concerned with all matters related to the quality of recorded and reproduced sound. Some of the topics I hope to cover in upcoming posts include recording technology, listening tests, loudspeakers, headphones, automotive audio, and acoustical interactions between loudspeakers and listening rooms.

I am an audio scientist by profession, and in matters related to the sound quality, I prefer to make conclusions based on hard scientific evidence gathered through properly controlled listening tests and meaningful objective measurements. Unfortunately, most of the audio industry doesn't operate this way. Why not? Quality subjective and objective measurements require significant investments in time, facilities, and expertise, whereas opinions on sound quality cost almost nothing.  Sometimes you get what you pay for.

I'm particularly  interested in the psychoacoustics of audio (i.e. the relationship between the human perception and measurement of sound). Here, controlled listening tests play an important role  since they permit scientists to make accurate, reliable and valid correlations between listeners' preferences and the variables being tested (e.g. different loudspeakers, room treatments, etc). From these listening tests  will hopefully emerge  a set of measurement and design rules from which the audio chain can be consistently optimized to produce a quality listening experience. 

I hope the reader will find this blog educational and entertaining.

Note:  The above photograph shows a listener auditioning different loudspeakers in Harman International's Multichannel Listening Lab.  Loudspeaker positional effects are controlled by an automated speaker mover that shuffles each loudspeaker into the same exact position within 3 seconds. During the test, an acoustically transparent but visually opaque curtain (shown in the up position here) is dropped in front of the loudspeakers so that the listener is not biased by visual factors such as loudspeaker size, brand, price,etc.

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