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Backbeat auditory illusion- psychoacoustics?


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I hear this weird phenomenon when listening to music that has a backbeat consisting of kick - kick+snare/clap - kick - kick+snare/clap.

 

On beat two, the snare or clap sample/recording always sound thinner, airier, crunchier, etc. to my ears. The beat four snare/clap, however, always seems to sound a bit more muted, but woodier, with more body and impact.

 

Now, of course if I was listening to other people's music, this could've be done on purpose, perhaps. But in my own, I can have a track with no insert effects, and simply put the same kick drum recording/sample on 1-2-3-4, and the same snare/clap sample on 2 and 4, and still hear this feeling. An oscilloscope and EQ analyzer confirm that they are exactly the same sonically, besides of course the first few beats (where the tail ends of each sample are just beginning to bleed over into each other).

 

For example, take a listen here- http://dl.dropbox.com/u/1715217/Drum_Loop_example.wav

Each clap hit is identical sample wise–

screen1.png.f4761fe14d4e77c0801b24e9d367da83.png

Edit– interestingly, I just noticed that there are slight nuances in the kick with clap in each hit, although they are very similar. I'm unsure if to attribute this to artifacts in the oscilloscope/resolutional issues, or an actual audio difference. Still, I'm certain that my perception of the thinner versus thicker clap is purely psychological.

screen2.png.4e5827810979f0b8deb1aa6ade1c5200.png

Yet I still perceive it as sounding different on 2 versus 4 of the backbeat.

 

Does anyone else hear this? And if so, is there a psychoacoustic explanation for this?

 

Also, if I run the loop a bit and adjust my mind to think what was originally beat 2 is 4, and originally 4 is 2, I begin to hear them swap places in terms of thinness versus body.

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Does anyone else hear this? And if so, is there a psychoacoustic explanation for this?

 

Very interesting topic – interesting enough to have made me add it to reading list for further investigation. To my disappointment I heard nothing close to your description. All uneven beats sounded identical, as well as even beats. I also did a phase inversion test in Audacity where I duplicated the original stereo track, inverted it, cut the first two beats, pasted them in the end, joined them, moved the track in the same position as the original and mixed them together. The result was a flat line, proving that every half-bar is identical.

 

Sounds (or rather seems) like you're experiencing a very personal psychoacoustic phenomenom, for which I have no explanation as I'm very unfamiliar with the subject.

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What happens if you cut out the first kick and start it on the 2nd? Could it be that you ears are changing response to the sound once your brain has learnt the sound, on the first snare/clap your brain had to learn the sound. The second time around it can process it quicker because you just heard it? Maybe.... I'm just guessing tho. I listened and can't hear it but it could also be your environment. I will listen when I get home as I only listened on my iPhone and earbuds.

 

Edit.... I've been pondering this as I cant hear it on my headphones but I remember before my room was treated I used to have I small issue where on a 4/4 beat the first kick would sound punchy and successive kicks wouldn't be as defined. I believe there were some acoustic issues causing this like some kind of build up.

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