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Author Topic: Two Ears- Two Sounds?  (Read 2720 times)

klaus

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Two Ears- Two Sounds?
« on: April 04, 2011, 10:00:45 pm »

Halocline wrote the following today in another forum thread:

Quote
Interestingly, I got the mics back and connected [the mics] to a good preamp, put on some headphones and crumpled a bit of paper and jungled a set of keys in front of each mic. They did sound different. Then I turned the headphones around and some of the difference stayed in the same ear...I guess the lesson of the day was that my ears are not identical.

Which leads me to share how I found out how different my left ear is from my right. Others who did this test confirmed these findings:

To understand how unique the timbre and frequency response of each of our ears are, sit in front of a decent hifi or monitor speaker (the other one being disconnected) while a mono recording of a vocal track is playing back. Now put one finger in one ear for about thirty seconds, then reverse the ear that is plugged. It will be an eye-opener.

Speaking of eyes, an equally highly individual perception and transmission through our sensory system will be found when testing the other of our stereo-sensory organs, the eyes: With one eye closed, look at a well-lit off-white wall for about 10 seconds. Then reverse the eye that is closed/sees the wall. The hue of the white will change quite noticeably.

Invariably the next question will be: which of the ears/eyes hears or sees the "true" sound/color?

My philosophical answer: both- objective reality only exists in our (subjective) perceptions.

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Klaus Heyne
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franman

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Re: How Different Are Our Ears?
« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2011, 10:21:47 pm »

I would like to think that I have pretty decent hearing and I can confirm when listening with just one ear, the difference in timbre and spectral balance is quite noticeable.

The brain is amazing and it can compensate for this and still allow you to 'hear' dead-on mono when your system is properly balanced (level and response) and hear the 'pull' to one side when things are off by as little as 1dB in a certain mid frequency band

It's hard to understand when I realize my two ears are way more different in response than 1dB at certain mid frequencies!! (but it's true). Also, as these discrepancies in hearing response develop very slowly over time, our brain has time to compensate and keep those of us who listen critically for a living, hearing the world in stereo balance.

fm
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Francis Manzella
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OOF!

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Re: Two Ears- Two Sounds?
« Reply #2 on: April 15, 2011, 06:50:14 pm »

This topic has been quite dear to me over the last 5 years or so.  As my tinnitus and hyper-acusis get more severe each year my ears grow further apart with regards to frequency. I put up Dreams, by Fleetwood Mac:  With my right ear towards the monitor I hear plenty of hi-hat.  When I turn my left ear towards the monitor the hi-hat completely disappears.  I mean completely.
Yet, my commercial mixes have never sounded better and are still improving.  I can't imagine how my brain is compensating but it is.  I have my monitors positioned a bit more closely than I normally would, and I do spend a lot of time in mono.  Pushing back from the console to get some extra distance also helps me confirm the left side.
I'm interested to check out the visual test you mention Klaus- very interesting as well!
thanks,
David Lawrence
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Gio

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Re: Two Ears- Two Sounds?
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2011, 09:33:00 pm »

This became all too apparent to me once I really learned how to listen. I had the headphones on backwards listening to a mix one day and that's when it dawned on me.  It really freaked me out at first, but then I though how impossible it would actually be for both ears to hear things identically. The human body is not symmetrical, so why would our eyes and ears work the same! 
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maarvold

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Re: Two Ears- Two Sounds?
« Reply #4 on: April 17, 2011, 07:25:19 pm »

One aspect that hasn't been mentioned is the difference between left brain (logical side, controls right side of the body) and right brain (emotional/intuitive side, controls left side of the body).  I believe this is why, for me, there are certain instruments that sit better in the mix on one side of the pan field or the other. I also believe that it stands to reason that this would affect how we interpret what we hear from one ear or the other.
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klaus

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Re: Two Ears- Two Sounds?
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2011, 09:48:34 pm »

One aspect that hasn't been mentioned is the difference between left brain (logical side, controls right side of the body) and right brain (emotional/intuitive side, controls left side of the body). [...] I also believe that it stands to reason that this would affect how we interpret what we hear from one ear or the other.

That is (at least to me) a novel connection between the specialised functions of the right and left brain hemisphere and right and left directional hearing. I wonder whether brain physiology supports this?
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Klaus Heyne
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