Explain Briefly the Physiological Process of Hearing in Humans. Which Factors Affect Our Hearing in Terms of Perception of Loudness and Pitch, and What Part Does Psychoacoustics Play in Our Perception of Sound? Then,

1939 Words Dec 23rd, 2011 8 Pages
Sound Engineering Principles
Module SED1001

Explain briefly the physiological process of hearing in humans. Which factors affect our hearing in terms of perception of loudness and pitch, and what part does psychoacoustics play in our perception of sound?
Then, give an overview of the main historical developments in recording sound. Which development do you think is the most significant and why?

Student n°:1104830

Marking Tutor: Stuart Avery

Date of submission: 23/11/2011

Word count: 1629

It is possible to explain shortly the hearing process, fundamental for any human being, as it follows:

Outer ear
As a sound reaches the ear, this gets directed into the ear canal by the pinna, a funnel-like structure.
The ear canal increases
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Generally speaking, the limit is above 200ms, below that duration, loudness is affected by sound’s length. (5)

The directional perception of sounds in the space is made possible thanks to a subconscious comparison of the nerve signals coming from both ears (Binaural Effect).
The four factors determining such phenomenon are delay time and intensity difference of the signals perceived by each ear, together with phase and timbre.
To get into more detail, the delay time, or time of arrival, for each ear, is different whether the sound source is in front of the listener (0ms of delay between the ears) or next to him or her (up to 0.6 ms), while the intensity of the signal reaching the closer ear is obviously higher.(6)
The signal perceived by each ear also has a different phase, but only if its bandwidth is greater than the distance between the ears, I.e. below 500 Hz.
Finally, the timbre is also important, as the signal will lose high frequencies while reaching the farthest ear.

Environment and reflections
Among the others, the Haas effect also plays an important role in our perception of sound.
Named after the experimenter who quantified this behaviour of our ears, it's now proved that the ear attends to the direction of the sound that arrives first and does not