Strange music artifact

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Jim of Seattle
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Strange music artifact

Post by Jim of Seattle » Tue Nov 19, 2019 9:12 am

Have you ever noticed how music sounds about half a step lower if heard faintly? For example, say I have music piped through my headphones, but I'm not yet wearing them. I play something, and I can faintly hear the music playing from the headphones, maybe eight feet away. It sounds half a step lower than it's supposed to. Then I don the headphones and the music suddenly sounds like it's now in the correct key. I've noticed this odd artifact my whole life. Can anyone explain what causes this effect?
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Pigfarmer Jr
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Tue Nov 19, 2019 10:05 am

Could it be the Doppler effect such as displayed by a moving train blowing its whistle? But that would only be with moving sound sources, right? So if you bring the headphones to your ear it may appear to change in pitch. Maybe?
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Jim of Seattle
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by Jim of Seattle » Tue Nov 19, 2019 12:22 pm

That's not it. It's not the act of moving the headphones, it's that the music sounds lower when heard faintly from the stationary headphones
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by jast » Tue Nov 19, 2019 3:54 pm

Interesting, I've always felt that music sounds a tiny bit higher played at very high volumes...

The other thing is easy to explain, though. Those weak sound waves simply get more tired on their way to you.
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by fluffy » Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:17 pm

I've never noticed a pitch change but there's a lot of weird psychological effects that can occur based on perception, like hearing different frequency ranges might affect the perception for the same reason pianos use stretch tuning. Not to mention the whole Laurel/Yanny thing, which is absolutely frequency-range-dependent.

Do you have perfect pitch, by any chance? I do, and that might be a factor.

(also for the doppler effect to be an issue you'd need the headphones to be moving at 20 meters per second to get a half-step change)
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by crumpart » Wed Nov 20, 2019 12:27 am

Holy shit brains are weird. I just looked up the Yanny Laurel thing again (which I’d only ever heard as Yanny myself), and found this slider on the NY Times that changes the frequencies so you can hear both.
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by fluffy » Wed Nov 20, 2019 1:03 am

At around the same time as Yanni/Laurel there was this gem which was less well-circulated:



Does it say "brainstorm" or "green needle?" It depends on which of the two you're thinking of!
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by Pigfarmer Jr » Wed Nov 20, 2019 5:30 am

fluffy wrote:
Tue Nov 19, 2019 5:17 pm
(also for the doppler effect to be an issue you'd need the headphones to be moving at 20 meters per second to get a half-step change)
To be fair, we work really, really fast to meet deadlines, sometimes. Gotta get those headphones on in a hurry. ;)

(I said sometimes.)
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Re: Strange music artifact

Post by ujnhunter » Wed Nov 20, 2019 10:18 am

I only hear Laurel... or Yaley when sliding towards "Yanny". So weird. Also that Brainstorm/Green Needle thing is weird too... You can get it to say Brain Needle or Green Storm. I feel weird now...
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