Psychoacoustics – cocktail party effect in this case.
Cocktail party effect, discovered 1953, describes the ability of the human auditory system to focus its listening attention on a single talker, among a mixture of conversations and background noises, ignoring other conversations.
How pronounced is this effect?
Within such selective perception, the hearing reaches noise suppression from 9 to 15 dB, i.e., the acoustic source, on which humans concentrate, subjectively seems to be many times louder than ambient noise of the same level. This even holds if ambient noise is louder than the information by a similar amount (»negative S/N«). On the other hand, a microphone recording would capture mainly background noise, as any selective perception does not apply.
How is this related to acoustic transparency of a room?
To come to the point: within a room, a related side-effect of the classical cocktail party effect results in greatly suppressed perception of spatiality - the subjective audible information sounds virtually dry, and with minimum reverberation.
A microphone positioned at the same location would capture blurred, slushy, and over-reverberating information instead. That very sound you know from bootleg recordings or YouTube live videos.
How is this related to practical application of room simulations models?
Various users have reported that during the progress of a mixing session, they are tempted to increase the wet signal over and over again. When returning from the cafeteria, they found their mix totally swamped with reverb. But after just about 30 seconds of listening, everything seemed to be ok again. Their advice: when mixing with QUANTEC, take regular short pauses, then return with “fresh ears” for a second opinion.
Once again, your ideas seem to be ahead of the pack …
That’s by no means my merit! – It was surprise to me too, that even within the scope of cocktail party effect, skillfully-designed room simulation models behave just like real rooms, i.e. they supply the human hearing system with all the essential clues.
If those essential clues are missing or incomplete, as it’s the case with most of my competitors’ reverberation devices and algorithms, the human auditory system reacts just like a microphone: the sound is unintelligible, slushy, and with far too much reverberation.
- Cocktail party effect
- Solving the Cocktail Party Problem -
How we can focus on one speaker in noisy crowds?
Cocktail party effect from neurologists’ point of view
- Sebastian Bernhard / pixelio.de (header image)
- Neuron, Zion-Golumbic et al.
- Figure 1C, Neuron, Zion-Golumbic et al.