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The Future of Sound


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8 replies to this topic

#1
Shimmy

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Why is everyone obsessed with HD tv and 3D tv, and no money or research seems to be going into improving sound quality. With the right investment sound could overtake vision as the best sense. In the long run it might require a little physical altering of peoples ears but the potential is limitless. Imagine if we could distinguish between sounds 100 times better than we can now. Music would become even more incredible and real life in general would just become infinitely more enjoyable. Perhaps in the distant future smell could also become this useful and entertainment would make full use of the sense, but that's a long way off and for the next 2 - 3 hundred years it's definitely about sound. Currently we hear sound in a continuous frequency scale, whereas we see vision as a continuous scale too but in the form of discrete colours in our mind. What I expect will happen in the next 50 years is we will reverse this. We will hear in colours and we will see in volume, not literally but analogously. So perhaps it won't be colours we think of when we hear but an entirely new concept that we could call for example "sound colours", and when we see, we won't call it volume but perhaps something like "visual amplitude". Another concept that not many people consider, is that if all the senses unite above a certain amplitude, in a similar way to the grand unifying theory uniting all the forces above a certain energy level. It seems likely that above a certain volume, brightness, odour etc, sound, light, smell, taste and touch are actually all the same thing. This would explain why when we come across something of incredible power it's almost as if all our senses are simultaneously engaged.

#2
Dead Redshirt

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Can we really? Sound is very subjective compared to vision. It's hard to believe anything could be improved in sound beyond more channels, where it's easier to create a better picture using resolution. The big problem right now is compression. There's an overuse of compression degrading what could be awesome recordings, trading them for loudness.
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#3
Shimmy

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Well with vision we have three things we can tell, the wavelength, the intensity and the direction (which part of the retina it hits). With sound we also have three things, the intensity (loudness), the frequency and again the direction (using both ears the brain can compare individual volumes and figure this out (not quite effectively as with light but on the plus side a full spherical range as opposed to the limited visual range). So technically we have just as many properties to analyse, in essence they are actually the exact same 3 properties - wavelength directly proportional to frequency (assuming constant c) and all (only real difference is ones longitudinal, ones transverse and one travels through a medium, one essentially is the medium). You could probably successfully argue that the ear isn't quite as sophisticated as the eye but maybe we can change that in the future. So basically anything we can do with vision, we should be able to do (with some fine tuning biological adjustments) with hearing, and should eventually be able to see a full 3d environment around us with hearing (like a lot of animals are very close to - some bats and to some extent dolphins/whales, whether we make use of sound reflection is optional I guess). We clearly need to do more.

#4
Markomarkh

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Maybe we will get devices that can be plugged into the ear that enhances sound, we will hear frequencies of what a cat can hear or dog as their hearing is a 100 times better than ours so I heard! Also google have patented a bone vibration device that can make you hear music without earphones. Look it up.

#5
StanleyAlexander

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Music will be crazy when we can hear up to dog levels.  How about if we could hear below 20Hz?  What if we could perceive a sound at 4Hz?  Four cycles per second?  It could be integrated with the rhythm somehow.

 

How about when our minds are running on a much faster computational substrate?  We might listen to songs that last a tenth of a microsecond.  Or songs with microsecond intricacy that last for an hour.


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#6
CamGoldenGun

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Sound for human hearing is pretty much mastered. We have a range from 20hz-20,000hz which most microphones pick up and most speakers deliver (even crappy $20 speakers). Engineers worked thousands of hours to create CD quality but people who have records would still rather listen to those than a digitally encoded version of the same song. We've had surround sound for years but it's pretty much a novelty until we can get surround vision (so if we hear something creaking behind us, we can turn around and see something, not a wall or someone sitting behind us).

 

The new sound concept sounds a bit backward, if not medically or drug-inducing. It sounds like reverse form of a medical condition called synesthesia, or in this case, chromesthesia. It may be a psychedelically good time but for everyday function it's not very useful.

 

Being able to hear like a dog could be useful but other than eavesdropping or looking for someone, what would be the benefit?



#7
GailG

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Can this be really possible?


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#8
Markomarkh

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Yes it could be possible, to hear like a dog would open up a better range of sounds, and we could make music with these new sounds we ain't heard before ie making new genres of music that is better quality than any of today's normal range of music!

#9
EpochSix

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Consider what music is on a strictly material and fundamental level, creative organizations of sound, a musician is a choreographer, designing dance routines for the surrounding air molecules. Sound is merely a pressure wave sent through a medium, an oscillation of air molecules being translated by the ear or some other device into what we call music. Wearing headphones is like placing little factories in your ears, outside your ear the sound remains ambient and scattered, while the inner ear is subject to the activity of the speakers within your headphones, vibrating away, toying with the molecules floating around your ear canal. By playing music you’re rearranging the atmosphere around you, filling the air with creatively designed vibrations translated by the ear as song. One of the huge differences between listening to music with a pair of really good headphones and listening to music with a really good stereo system is that with a stereo system your entire body is feeling the music, especially the lower frequencies, the bass. Sitting in a car with a really good sub woofer and listening to something like dubstep can be quite an experience, it’s basically turns the seat into a massage chair. There have been plenty of times where I’ve been waiting at an intersection and a car with a good sub woofer pulls up behind a few cars back and it’s so bass heavy that I can feel it in the vehicle I’m in 10 meters away. Take this realization and expand upon it, imagine music specifically designed to affect not only your ears but your body as well. The Mass Effect games played with this idea a bit, you hear characters in the game talking about sensory bands like Expel 10. Characters describe it as music that gets inside of you and imposes a full sensory experience. Feelings like this can be achieved in the real world by experimenting with recreational drugs and music. Psychedelics especially seem to evoke an enhanced musical experience, music can have extremely significant effects on visions and hallucinations, shaping the experience around the sound you’re hearing. It can get to the point where soundscapes featuring textured sounds, like running water or blowing wind, can actually be felt or be perceived as the sense of touch pertaining to the particular sound. It’s a rather surreal experience. I imagine there must be a way to elaborate on these effects, to design music designed to elicit feelings beyond sense of sound, feelings more intense and diverse than rumbling bass. Perhaps you could take a drug specifically designed to play on these sorts of ideas before listening to music designed to cooperate with the effects of that drug, this is already an idea played with by psychedelic inspired music like psytrance or ambient. Maybe a clothing or spray on substance could be designed to interpret input sound data and output particular feelings of texture on the surface of the skin through means of vibration or temperature change, or other small mechanisms prodding away at your body in harmony. Maybe in a future where uploading data straight to your body / brain, a future with more sophisticated brain-computer interfaces, a file different from today’s mp3 or FLAC could be designed to incorporate full sensory experiences as well as music. After all every sense we have can only be experienced through means of electrical signals being translated by our brains.




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