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Psychophysics, auditory neurophysiology, and high-fidelity audio

Many misconceptions and mysteries surround the perception and reproduction of musical sounds. Specifications such as frequency response and certain common distortions provide an inadequate indication of the sound quality, whereas accuracy in the time domain is known to significantly influence audio transparency. While the upper frequency cutoff of human hearing is around 18 kHz (or even lower in older individuals) a much higher bandwidth and temporal resolution can influence the perception of sound. Non-linearities and temporal complexities in the auditory system negate the simple f ~ 1/t reciprocal relationship between frequency and time. In our group's research -- which lies at the intersection of psychophysics, human hearing, and high-end audio --  we measure the limits of human hearing and relate them to the neurophysiology of the auditory system. These experiments also help to define the criteria for perfect fidelity in a sound-reproduction system. Our recent behavioral studies on human subjects proved that humans can discern timing alterations on a 5 microsecond time scale, indicating that that digital sampling rates used in common consumer audio (such as CD) are insufficient for fully preserving transparency.

Publications:

Temporal resolution of hearing probed by bandwidth restriction, M. N. Kunchur, Acta Acustica united with Acustica 94, 594–603 (2008). pdf file

Probing the temporal resolution and bandwidth of human hearing , M. N. Kunchur, Proc. of Meetings on Acoustics (POMA) 2, 050006 (2008). pdf file

Audibility of temporal smearing and time misalignment of acoustic signals, M. N. Kunchur, Technical Acoustics, 17 (2007).  pdf file

FAQs (this document answers FAQs, and provides some tutorial information for the above papers), M. N. Kunchur, web article (last updated July 15, 2009). pdf file

Article in popular HiFi magazine summarizing principal results and implications of above papers , by George Foster, HIFICRITIC Vol3/No2  pg.7 (2009). pdf file

Auditory mechanisms that can resolve ultrasonic time scales, M. N. Kunchur, invited panel lecture at the 128th AES Convention in London (2010).  pdf file

Music in the Human Experience: An Introduction to Music Psychology, by Donald A Hodges and David C. Sebald, pg.96, Ch. 6 (2010). pdf file

Conference presentations and panels:

Served on the "High Resolution Audio" panel at the 128th Audio Engineering Convention, May 22-25, 2010, London, U.K. (http://www.aes.org/events/128/calendar/calendar.cfm, W6)..

Temporal Resolution and the High-Frequency Limit of Hearing, at the 31st Annual Midwinter Research Meeting of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO), February 16-21, 2008, Phoenix, Arizona, USA.
(M. N. Kunchur, Bulletin and Abstract Book of the 31st Annual Midwinter Research Meeting of the ARO, edited by Peter A. Santi, vol. 31, pg. 318, February 2008.)

Probing the temporal resolution and bandwidth of human hearing in "Session 2aPP: Psychological and Physiological Acoustics: Potpourri" at the 154th annual ASA meeting in New Orleans, November 28, 2007.
(2aPP1: M. N. Kunchur, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 122, No. 5, Pt. 2, pg. 2967 November 2007.)

An upper bound on the temporal resolution of human hearing in “Session 2aPP: Psychological and Physiological Acoustics – Spatial Hearing and Temporal Processing” at the Fourth Joint Meeting: ASA (Acoustical Society of America) and ASJ (Acoustical Society of Japan) in Honolulu, HI, on November 29, 2006.
(
2aPP29: M. N. Kunchur, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., Vol. 120, No. 5, Pt. 2, Pg. 3085, November 2006.)

The perception and high-fidelity reproduction of music, special one-hour invited tutorial talk given in “Session T1: Acoustics and the Perception and Reproduction of Music” at the Annual March Meeting of the American Physical Society (APS), Los Angeles, CA, March 20, 2005. (M. N. K. was also the organizer and chair of this symposium.)

Music perception and reproduction, presented at the 2003 Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Section of the American Physical Society (SESAPS), Wilmington, NC, October 2003.

Syllabus of Musical Acoustics course

Colloquia and seminars:

Download recent colloquium abstract.

 

High-fidelity audio, psychoacoustics, and how our hearing works, colloquium at Fergusson College, Physics Department, on Dec. 11, 2010.

High-Fidelity Sound Reproduction and how our Ear and Brain Perceive Musical Sounds, colloquium at S. P. College, Physics Department, on Dec. 16, 2010.

High-fidelity audio, psychoacoustics, and how our hearing works, colloquium at National Chemical Laboratory, on Dec. 13, 2010

The Physics of Music,
public lecture at Science Cafe organized by EngenuitySC, on March 9, 2010.

 

High-fidelity audio, psychoacoustics, and how our hearing works, Audio Engineering Guest Lecture given in the USC Dept. of Electrical Engineering, Columbia, Feb. 2, 2010.

 

High-fidelity audio, psychoacoustics, and how our hearing works, seminar at University of Georgia, on October 8, 2009.

 

High-fidelity audio, psychoacoustics and how our hearing works, Music Composition Seminar given at USC School of Music, on January 30, 2009.

 

Psychoacoustics and how our hearing works, seminar at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, on January 5, 2009.

 

Psychoacoustics and how our hearing works, seminar at University of Pune, on January 1, 2009.

 

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium at Indira Gandhi Center for Atomic Research, on December 23, 2008.
 

Temporal resolution and bandwidth of hearing, "Hearing and Donuts Seminar" given at University of Wisconsin at Madison, on April 11, 2008.

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, seminar given at Argonne National Laboratory, on April 15, 2008.

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium given at Northern Illinois University, on April 18, 2008.

 

Temporal resolution and bandwidth of hearing, presentation to the Bose Corporation in the USC Nanocenter, Jan. 23, 2008.
 

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium given at University of Pune, Department of Physics, on January 5, 2007.

 

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium given at University of South Carolina, Department of Physics and Astronomy, on February 15, 2007.

 

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium given at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, on August 21, 2007.

 

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium given at Instituto de Fisica, Universidad San Louis Potosi, San Louis Potosi, Mexico, on August 29, 2007.

 

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, colloquium given at Bhabha Atomic Research Centre on December 18, 2006.

High-fidelity audio and the resolution of time in human hearing, institute-wide ASET (Advances in Science, Engineering, and Technology) colloquium given at Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIFR) on December 22, 2006.

 

The perception and high-fidelity reproduction of music, seminar given at Department of Biomedical Engineering, University of California, Irvine, March 22, 2005.

Hi-fidelity music reproduction and the human audibility of ultrasonic frequencies, colloquium given at University of South Carolina, September 22, 2005.

 

Guest lecturer at the Columbia Student Chapter of the Audio Engineering Society (AES).

 

The perception and reproduction of music, Iowa State University, Ames, December 6, 2004.

 

The perception and reproduction of music, University of Georgia, Athens, October 14, 2004.

 

Music perception and reproduction, Tata Institute of Fundamental Research, Mumbai, August 11, 2004.

 

Music perception and reproduction, Bhabha Atomic Research Centre, Mumbai, August 9, 2004.

 

The perception and electronic reproduction of music, University of Pune, Pune, August 6, 2004.

 

Music perception and reproduction — time is not always one over frequency, Rutgers University, Physics colloquium, October 29, 2003

 

The Science of Hearing, Music Preception and Music Reproduction, University of South Carolina, Department of Physics and Astronomy, March 20, 2003.

 

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