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Ariel Bitran
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What They're Teaching Kids in College

As I was reading my Psychology textbook for class, I came across this statement in the section about audition:

"As people get older, their sensitivity to sound declines, especially at the higher frequencies. For this reason, there is sometimes little point in a 30- or 40- year-old buying expensive stereo equipment, since what makes the equipment expensive is often its exquisite ability to reproduce high frequencies accurately. In many cases the middle-aged stereo buyer will be deaf to these frequencies and so probably will not be able to tell the difference between the expensive stereo and the cheaper one!"

This excerpt is from Psychology by Gleitman, Reisberg, and Gross, for my Intro to Psychology class.

Any thoughts?

ohfourohnine
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

Just one more brick in the wall. Of course it's pap, but if that were the worst example of the half truths and outright lies being foisted off in institutions of "higher learning" these days, we'd be lucky.

A question for you, Ariel: Are you willing to refute the author's conclusion at the possible risk to your grade?

Kal Rubinson
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

It is an example of editorializing in a text book. While one always tries to 'humanize' the information, especially at an introductory level, statements like this are a bit irresponsible since it offers an opinion not based on fact or, even, accepted wisdom.

Kal (who hopes he has not fallen into the same trap)

Ariel Bitran
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:
A question for you, Ariel: Are you willing to refute the author's conclusion at the possible risk to your grade?

Definitely. I'll talk with my teacher about it today. I'll keep you updated with what the academic world has to say.

Jan Vigne
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

The advice should appear in an anatomy class rather than psychology I would think. Psychology of what? Buying habits of the 30 year old?

Take the paragraph to an economics prof. In Economics 101 it should read, "As people get older, their sensitivity to sound declines as their financial status improves. Especially at the higher frequencies of dividends. For this reason, there is always a point in a 30- or 40- year-old buying expensive stereo equipment, since what makes the equipment expensive is often its exquisite ability to show you can buy something your friends cannot. In many cases the middle-aged stereo buyer may be deaf and so probably will not be able to tell the difference between the expensive stereo and one that can be brought home in the back of his 7 series BMW!"

Possibly that is in an anatomy book and is being taught to the med students.

jkalman
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:
As I was reading my Psychology textbook for class, I came across this statement in the section about audition:

"As people get older, their sensitivity to sound declines, especially at the higher frequencies. For this reason, there is sometimes little point in a 30- or 40- year-old buying expensive stereo equipment, since what makes the equipment expensive is often its exquisite ability to reproduce high frequencies accurately. In many cases the middle-aged stereo buyer will be deaf to these frequencies and so probably will not be able to tell the difference between the expensive stereo and the cheaper one!"

This excerpt is from Psychology by Gleitman, Reisberg, and Gross, for my Intro to Psychology class.

Any thoughts?

It is actually quite an illogical argument. The writer even contradicts himself/herself. The person states, "what makes the equipment expensive is often its exquisite ability to reproduce high frequencies accurately," ("often," not always). So if this is only one reason for HiFi equipment being expensive, not all the reasons, it shouldn't take too much intelligence to derive the argument that perhaps those middle-aged and older people are buying expensive equipment for those "other qualities" that the equipment offers to the listener (like perhaps clarity, detail and transparency in the mid-range, among other things)? It really doesn't take any great leap of intelligence to make that argument against what appears to be a heavily biased, anti-HiFi writer.

The writer disregards his/her own admission that high frequency reproduction is only one aspect of expensive stereo equipment, and bases his/her assumption that there is "sometimes little point in a 30- or 40- year-old buying expensive stereo equipment" only on the premise that high frequency reproduction is significantly more important to people buying HiFi equipment than any other qualities the expensive equipment have that are improved over the cheaper stereo equipment. This ignores the idea that perhaps those other reasons are more important and more influential than high frequency reproduction, since they CAN be heard by practically anyone.

I think what we have here is a psychologist whose wife/SO won't let him purchase high end equipment, so he has found a way to rationalize his own inability to be assertive with his wife/SO by being passive aggressive towards high-end audio equipment and people who purchase high-end audio equipment (this is implied in the argument). That, or her/his SO (Significant Other) keeps buying HiFi equipment and she is venting in an inappropriate manner (also passive aggressively instead of being assertive about her personal feelings with her SO). Both of these are known in the psychology community as "transference." Bad psychologist, no soup for you!

Just a little free psychotherapeutic analysis on my part for the author. Perhaps this will be just the push he/she needed to feel safe enough for a cathartic experience... Let the healin' begin.

bobedaone
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

That's a pretty ridiculous statement. I don't recall ever coming across something like that in my intro class. As you climb the ladder, that sort of thing tends to diminish (though not entirely disappear). Unless your professor is a hi-fi hater himself, I'm sure he'll see how erroneous that piece of text is. Maybe he'll even change the book for later semesters! Hey, it happens.

I enjoyed Introduction to Psychology enough to concentrate in Biopsychology, and later Neuroscience.

mchale
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:

This excerpt is from Psychology by Gleitman, Reisberg, and Gross, for my Intro to Psychology class.

Any thoughts?

They should focus their collective efforts on Psychology, apparently engineering & acoustics aren't their thing

It does seem irresponsible to make such an assertion. I thought this might be appropriate:

"One of the most salient features of our culture is that there is so much bullshit. Everyone knows this. Each of us contributes his share. But we tend to take the situation for granted. Most people are rather confident of their ability to recognize bullshit and to avoid being taken in by it. So the phenomenon has not aroused much deliberate concern, nor attracted much sustained inquiry."

From 'On Bullshit' page 1

LM2940
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:
"As people get older, their sensitivity to sound declines, especially at the higher frequencies. For this reason, there is sometimes little point in a 30- or 40- year-old buying expensive stereo equipment, since what makes the equipment expensive is often its exquisite ability to reproduce high frequencies accurately. In many cases the middle-aged stereo buyer will be deaf to these frequencies and so probably will not be able to tell the difference between the expensive stereo and the cheaper one!"

That statement has NO place in a psychology textbook!
But I do have a question for the older gentlemen in this forum: Have you noticed a decrease in sensitivity to high frequencies as you've aged?
I was in a public place with my uncle[70 y/o] recently and I kept hearing a high pitched "whistle"[probably about 15k or so] but he could not hear it. Of course, he's not an audiophile so he didn't think much of it but I was concerned about being in the same situation at his age.

mchale
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:

I was in a public place with my uncle[70 y/o] recently and I kept hearing a high pitched "whistle"[probably about 15k or so] but he could not hear it. Of course, he's not an audiophile so he didn't think much of it but I was concerned about being in the same situation at his age.

I was hanging out with a buddy over the weekend and his younger brother who is in high school was telling me about the "mosquito tone" that him and his buddies use so their teachers don't know when they're texting each other. Gotta love it! I did a little research and turned up a wiki:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Buzz

Just for the record, I heard it

Ariel Bitran
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

Here you can listen to the different 'mosquito tones' so you can all test your abilities on those frequencies

Mosquito Tones

Editor
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:
Here you can listen to the different 'mosquito tones' so you can all test your abilities on those frequencies
Mosquito Tones

14.9kHz was easily audible to my 59 year-old ears. I had to turn up the volume to hear the 15.8kHz, though. (Didn't blow the tweeters on my office computer speakers, fortunately.) Couldn't hear the 16.7kHz at all. :-(

Thanks Ariel.

John "Bat Ears" Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

CECE
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

Let's test Mf since he seems to hear stuff no mortal can........his should go out past 20kHz. You know the plugs, the wires, this and that odity. Hearing loss doesn't impair creative writing though, does it? Hearing tests for all reviewers, it's only fair, publish teh result on everything they talk about, it gives a REFERENCE for teh reads as they ponder the writings of them. When they make claims, of things heard, look at teh cahrt, and wonder, hmmmm, me thinks not. Talk about a way to give truth in advertising, let's do it. It should become the drug test of any audio reviewer!!! If they make such absurd claims, this test should certainly provide a backing for it.

gkc
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

Hi, Ariel. This is a great post, one to get the juices of all music lovers flowing. The premise is so ludicrous that the real debate ought to be whether it deserves a reply. But it's a slow night, and I haven't passed out yet, so I'll try to take it seriously.

First, you don't spend the big bucks for "exquisite highs." You spend the big bucks for bass, if you are a music lover. And a smooth midrange with some bite, when the music provides it. The money is in balance. You can get "exquisite highs" for WELL under a grand. The money goes into cabinet resonance control (bass), some versatility in room-loading (bass), and overall balance. IF you are a music lover. If not? The money goes into brand ownership and furniture.

Second. We are all trapped inside our own heads. We have no way of comparing frequency ranges we can't hear to those we can. Most of us who quest for the perfect sound want to get the live acoustic event into our living rooms. Most of us. NONE of us put out the big bucks for "exquisite highs," because if we can't hear them, where are they? If I can only hear to 14 kHz in a concert hall, how can I go higher in my living room?

Third. 95% (or more) of the music (any music, whether it be Mahler or Ice-T) resides in the midrange -- about 100 Hz to about 8,000 Hz. If the midrange isn't right, "exquisite highs" won't help.

Fourth. This is a variation of the ol' woodies-vs.-music-lovers argument. I have already lost patience with it.

Cheers, and happy tunes. Endure the bad textbooks, and you may get an education.

Monty
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

I couldn't hear the 14.9 tone. Maybe I'll take up model railroading.

bobedaone
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

I'm posting right now to enhance my college student street cred. 18.8 for me.

CECE
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

My cheap computer speakers can't go as high as I can hear. It ain't my ears it's the equipments. When I run a test tone on the "real system", I can hear way up there....Test all Stereophile reviewers, if they claim to hear things that they do, claim to hear subtle nuance things. Is it real or is it creative writing? Measurments matter. Someone who claims to hear what a connector or piece of wire sounds liek, better have some incredible hearing range.

smejias
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

I almost smashed my head against my desk when Ariel came in and told me about this.

Anyway, on my cheap computer speakers (Dell Model A215, made in China), with NYC honking its face off outside, I can hear the 17.7kHz tone.

gkc
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

Unfortunately, DUP, hearing is cognitive processing as well as physical stimulation. With the cognitive baggage many numbers-slaves bring to the task, there is (somewhat ironically) no chance of objective assessment. Now, I'm sure you can hear a midge jerking off in the next room, but can you assess the reproduction of music ? Michael, Art, Wes, John, Stephen, and Sam can.

There is much, much less difference between a 14 kHz tone and a 17khz tone than there is between a 6kHz tone and a 9kHz tone, especially when they are all buried within the fabric of a musical composition. So, the point is not how high you can hear , but how well you can listen. And, how well you can record the complete experience for others to enjoy and evaluate. Do all that, my son, and you, too, may be able to write for Stereophile someday. As things stand now, you are in no position to evaluate the evaluators. Just read, enjoy, and strain for the high notes.

ethanwiner
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:
there is sometimes little point in a 30- or 40- year-old buying expensive stereo equipment


Yikes, the writers should stick to a subject they actually know something about. Better not tell Bruce Swedien or Bob Olhsson or Bob Katz or any of the many dozens of other middle aged and still fabulously successful pro mix engineers that they shouldn't bother with good sounding gear.

I'll be 58 in a few months, and I like to think I can hear fine detail a lot better than most people.

--Ethan

drowland3550
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College

Here's an odd result. I can hear every tone except for 22.4khz and 15.8khz.

LM2940
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Re: What They're Teaching Kids in College


Quote:
Here you can listen to the different 'mosquito tones' so you can all test your abilities on those frequencies

Mosquito Tones

That is a VERY entertaining site! Thanks for the link! I can hear all but the very highest file [22357.mp3]. Although I did have to turn the volume up a bit louder to hear the higher tones.

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