Basics of Psychoacoustics
Knowing the basic principles of psychoacoustics and audio skeuomorphism can help you recognize human emotions and reactions to everyday noises while knowing how we interpret and react to sound can bring many benefits to your final set-up. Here we will talk about the basics of Psychoacoustics and how it can help you create a better auditory experience for your clients.
Psychoacoustics is the scientific study of sound perception and audiology. This includes music, speech, and any sound frequency that travels through our ears. It establishes relationships between physical parameters including sound pressure, level and frequency, and subjective hearing impressions such as pleasantness, pitch, and perceived volume. The human hearing range depends on both the pitch of the sound and the loudness of the sound. Pitch, high and low, is measured in Hertz (Hz) while loudness is measured in decibels (dB). The audible human range of hearing is between 20Hz to 20,000 Hz.
Our ears do not perceive all frequencies equally and are most sensitive in the high mid-range, so the key to achieving a pleasant mix is an even balance of frequencies. Metrics such as loudness, sharpness, and tonality provide a linear representation of human hearing perception. Human auditory perception is global and considers all the different parameters, creating the need to combine the different metrics to get a good estimation of the human ear perception.
Audio skeuomorphism is another sound design concept referring to sounds that mimic real-world sounds digitally. Some examples include the sound of an item being tossed in the trash when you drag an unwanted file into the recycle can on a computer. Sound designers and composers will use this to create background texture and bring the visual environment to life, often bringing emotional responses that are impactful.
So how does psychoacoustics affect the audio-visual world? Understanding the science behind the sound will allow you to create better music and effects in the studio. If you are looking to hire an audio-visual team, knowing the basics of psychoacoustics can help you evaluate the equipment they have and make the best decisions based on what you are trying to convey to your audience.