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Sound Board: High-Resolution Audio

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[Feature] In audio, high-resolution sound should be natural, resembling real life and many of the terms we use to qualify it, such as clarity, focus, transparency, and definition are borrowed from vision. If sound is natural, objects should have clear locations (position and distance) and separate readily into perceptual streams, particularly where environmental reverberation causes multiple arrivals closely separated in time—temporal resolution of microstructure in sound being analogous to spatial resolution in vision.

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JAES Volume 63 Issue 10 pp. 831-832; October 2015
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Alex U. Case
Alex U. Case

Comment posted November 14, 2015 @ 17:46:08 UTC (Comment permalink)

Terrific piece, Bob.  Thanks.  

Finally an article that is willing to 'stick our heads under the lid of a piano.'  We recording engineers know that there is a vivid detail in close-microphone placement that can be appealing when used well and is essential to the 'better than the real thing' aesthetic of pop music production.  The change in timbre and detail with distance is not explained by high frequency attenuation due to air alone.  The suggestion of connecting assessment of high resolution to 'added distance' is very intriguing and feels spot on to me.

Ammar Jadusingh
Ammar Jadusingh

Comment posted November 27, 2015 @ 23:34:56 UTC (Comment permalink)

I am at a loss as to what this would have to do with end users/consumers needing higher that 16/44 playback for consumer systems/rooms? Where  is the reliable audible evidence that higher "resolution" media is in any way necessary here?

Conflating audio and visual perception is a bad idea. Please see JJ Johnstons powerpoint Audio vs Video - the same or different?

As to why a piano, etc. sounds "not so real" when playing back with 2 ch stereo, based on phantom center/holographic constructs, well, that has far more to do with the limitations of stereo soundfields, as explained in AES paper 5202: and scant to do with needing more stereo "resolution", IMHO.

Alex U. Case
Alex U. Case

Comment posted February 17, 2016 @ 17:00:14 UTC (Comment permalink)

My apologies to author Bob Stuart.  It seems my supportive comments on what I regard as an intriguing new angle on an important, if well-explored topic, provoked some negative reaction.  I don't believe you asked for a specific end user resolution but suggested the jury is still out for production resolutions upstream of the release format. Neither you nor I conflated visual cues with aural.  And I believe we both know a little bit about stereo.

Your piece struck a chord with me in your comments on the sound of a piano up close (I have no interest at all in the visual image thereof).  The signal from a mono microphone placed very close to the soundboard of a piano — and I would extend that concept to the very near field of any sound source -- can have a finely etched timbre that pop engineers so often exploit when concocting artistically valid, but rather unrealistically hyped production styles.  Close microphone craft exploits this phenomenon constantly.  Pulling the mono microphone back as little as a foot or more, even in an acoustically dry recording space, can diminish that detail.  I've always felt it wasn't completely explained by the slight magnitude response changes (irregular but slight high frequency roll-off) due to air absorption for these distances, at these temperatures/pressures/humidities.  Time smearing seems worth exploring to me.  The cascading accumulation of time smearing seems worth exploring to me.

Defining and learning to hear the qualities described as 'added distance' for microphone placement, never bothering with what it looks like, seems a worthy path of research. I've got to think other practicing audio engineers have had similar aural observations.  I'd love to hear your observations if you have.

[full dislosure:  I've been sticking my head under the piano since I was a wee one.  So the concept may have irrational appeal for me.]

Ammar Jadusingh
Ammar Jadusingh

Comment posted March 8, 2016 @ 18:09:03 UTC (Comment permalink)

Alex, my comments are about the presented paper. Within the second sentence, reads: "What is High Resolution? The term is borrowed from optics." Then goes on to talk about light, cameras and displays.

The part about the piano is immediately preceeded by: "If a reproducing system..."

Hopefully this clears up my commentary.

David Vega
David Vega

Comment posted December 13, 2016 @ 17:51:53 UTC (Comment permalink)

Thanks! Are very useful these docs.

Where can I find more information on naturalness?

David Vega












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