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Psychoacoustics 1: Introduction, the ear

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Visit https://alexisbaskind.net/teaching for a full interactive version of this course with sound and video material, as well as more courses and material.

Course series: Fundamentals of acoustics for sound engineers and music producers
Level: undergraduate (Bachelor)
Language: English
Revision: January 2020
To cite this course: Alexis Baskind, Psychoacoustics 1 – The ear, course material, license: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.


Course content
1.What is psychoacoustics?
Psychophysics and psychoacoustics - Physical and perceptual attributes - Why is psychoacoustics important for music production?
2.The physiology of the ear
Inner ear, middle ear, outer ear - Inner hair cells - Corti organ
3.Hearing damages
Ear fatigue - ear damages

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Psychoacoustics 1: Introduction, the ear

  1. 1. Alexis Baskind Psychoacoustics 1 Introduction, the ear Alexis Baskind, https://alexisbaskind.net
  2. 2. Alexis Baskind Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear Course series Fundamentals of acoustics for sound engineers and music producers Level undergraduate (Bachelor) Language English Revision January 2020 To cite this course Alexis Baskind, Psychoacoustics 1 – The ear, course material, license: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA. Full interactive version of this course with sound and video material, as well as more courses and material on https://alexisbaskind.net/teaching. Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear Except where otherwise noted, content of this course material is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution- NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  3. 3. Alexis Baskind Outline 1. What is psychoacoustics? 2. The physiology of the ear 3. Hearing damages Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  4. 4. Alexis Baskind What is Psychoacoustics? • Psychoacoustics is a sub-branch of psychophysics, a branch of science concerned with the relationships between physical stimuli and subjective mental phenomena like perception. • Psychoacoustics focuses on the auditory perception: how a sound signal with given characteristics is perceived by the ear? Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  5. 5. Alexis Baskind What is Psychoacoustics? • There is an equivalent of several objective characteristics of sound in the auditory perception, for example: – Level => Loudness – Fundamental Frequency => Pitch – Frequency Relationships => Intervals – Amount of high frequencies in the spectrum => Brightness • The relation between objective parameters and their perception by audition is however rarely easy Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  6. 6. Alexis Baskind Why is Psychoacoustics important for Music Production? • Many techniques used in music production result from findings from psychoacoustics • The results of research in psychoacoustics tell us, what we can hear and what we cannot Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  7. 7. Alexis Baskind Why is Psychoacoustics important for Music Production? • In music production, it’s a mistake to consider only objective characteristics of sound and signal, since the relationship between those and hearing can sometimes be very complex • It is very useful to know how the ear system works, in order to reach quicker a given goal while producing music Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  8. 8. Alexis Baskind Outline 1. What is psychoacoustics? 2. The physiology of the ear 3. Hearing damages Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  9. 9. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear Video Laura J. Martin, « Hearing and the Cochlea », MedilinePlus, National Library of Medicine MedlinePlus brings together authoritative health information from the National Library of Medicine (NLM), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and other government agencies and health-related organizations.
  10. 10. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear • The ear has two tasks: – to transform ear pressure information into nerve impulses – to participate to the sense of balance (thanks to the so- called vestibular mechanism in the inner ear) • The ear is made of three parts: outer, middle and inner ear
  11. 11. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear The ear conch and the ear canal collect sound (like a funnel) and conduct it until the ear drum. Moreoever, the ear conch filters sound according to the direction of arrival (see „Spatial Hearing“) Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  12. 12. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear The eardrum vibrates with sound pressure, and transmits this vibration to the bones in the middle ear
  13. 13. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear The bones in the middle ear (called malleus, incus and stapes) make the oval window vibrate…
  14. 14. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear The main function of the middle ear is to optimize the sound transfer from a gaseous outer medium (air) to a liquid inner medium. Without it, only a fraction of the sound energy would be transmitted to the inner ear. Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  15. 15. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear …thus transmitting the vibration to the organ of Corti in the cochlea (in the inner ear)
  16. 16. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear The vibration of the organ of Corti depends on the frequency. Low frequencies have to travel all the organ to reach the end => Frequency decomposition (like a filter bank)
  17. 17. Alexis Baskind The physiology of the ear Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear The organ of Corti has tiny hairs called hair cells which role is to transform the vibration into nerve impulses that will be transmitted to the the central nervous system.
  18. 18. Alexis Baskind Outline 1. What is psychoacoustics? 2. The physiology of the ear 3. Hearing damages Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  19. 19. Alexis Baskind Hearing damages Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear The hair cells can hardly regenerate: when they’re damaged, its finished => Protect your ears ! Organ of Corti (of a mouse) in good condition The same after an exposure to a very loud noise
  20. 20. Alexis Baskind Hearing damages Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear Hearing loss can result (among others) of: • Long-term exposure to loud sounds, or short-term exposure to very loud sounds: Ex: . a gunshot (140-170 dB SPL) can damage hearing immediately . an ambulance siren (120 dB SPL) can damage hearing after 7 minutes exposure per day . A loud rock music concert (110-130 dB SPL) can damage hearing after 3.5-30 minutes exposure per day . Listening to iPod or similar with earphones at maximum volume (> 100 dB SPL) can damage hearing after 5 minutes exposure per day . Listening to iPod or similar with earphones in the street (≈85-95 dB SPL) can damage hearing after 4 hours exposure per day
  21. 21. Alexis Baskind Hearing Damages and Ear Fatigue • Producing Music every day may not entail long-term hearing damages, but is anyway quite exhausting for the ear. • With increasing ear fatigue, the accuracy of the perception and the attention decrease This means: regular breaks are important! Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  22. 22. Alexis Baskind Hearing damages Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear Hearing loss can result (among others) of: • High pressure differences (air plane, deep water, high altitudes) • Age • Genetics • Diseases • Drugs • Some medications and chemicals (classified as “ototoxic”: some antibiotics, aspirin, quinine...
  23. 23. Alexis Baskind Conclusion • The ear is made of three parts: outer, middle and inner ear • Outer and middle ear aim at adapting and transmitting sound as vibrations to the cochlea in the inner ear • The hair cells in the cochlea transforms those vibrations into nerve impulses • The Cochlea does a “frequency analysis” of the sound • The hair cells are fragile and cannot be regenerated, except (and only partly) in the first hours after an ear trauma • An ear injury is an absolute emergency and needs a quick and professional treatment Psychoacoustics 1 – Introduction, the ear
  • Febha

    Jun. 2, 2020

Visit https://alexisbaskind.net/teaching for a full interactive version of this course with sound and video material, as well as more courses and material. Course series: Fundamentals of acoustics for sound engineers and music producers Level: undergraduate (Bachelor) Language: English Revision: January 2020 To cite this course: Alexis Baskind, Psychoacoustics 1 – The ear, course material, license: Creative Commons BY-NC-SA. Course content 1.What is psychoacoustics? Psychophysics and psychoacoustics - Physical and perceptual attributes - Why is psychoacoustics important for music production? 2.The physiology of the ear Inner ear, middle ear, outer ear - Inner hair cells - Corti organ 3.Hearing damages Ear fatigue - ear damages

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