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Appearance means more than sound when judging music

A study by Chia-Jung Tsay of University College London researched how appearance affects perception of sound by performing a study on controlled groups, including a a group of professional musicians, to identify which performer was selected by judges as the winner of a previously held music competition.  The people were given the choice to either watch a silent video of a performance or hear the audio only of a performance and decide who the judges picked as the winner.  Most people chose to listen to the audio, which resulted in selecting the winner at a rate significantly below chance, even for the professional musicians.  When decisions were made by watching the silent video, even just black and white outlines, the groups selected the correct winner at a significantly greater than chance rate.

What does this mean?  What we see affects how we hear things.  While you can measure sound, and that is sound science, sound biology plays a different but significant role in hearing.  Can we make the leap and say this translates to how your audio gear looks?  Will a better looking product be perceived as sounding better than the identical sounding but not as attractive product?  Tell us how you judge the quality of your audio products and let us know your thoughts.






Having a life-long love of high-quality audio and gadgets, average_joe got back in touch with his audiophile side after a hiatus caused by life. His focus became headphones and related gear as the size and price fit his life better than home audio. He believes the entire audio chain is important, and likes to continue to think past the headphone and on into the head, as he believes understanding the details of how we hear will lead to a better audio experience.


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