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  1. #1
    Music / Hi-Fi enthusiast Les Adams's Avatar
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    Ear Shape! Does it make a difference?

    I wasn't quite sure which heading to post this under, but I guess our ears are "audio"!

    Does anyone know if there has been a study of how the shape of our outer ear affects the sound we perceive?

    I am aware that if I push my ears forward with my fingers, I get a significant increase in high frequencies. Also, cupping both ears from behind makes a dramatic change in all areas we like to discuss, like soudstage, imaging and general tonal balance.

    Given that we have different shape and size ears to each other, can and does this account to some degree for why we have different tastes in loudspeakers, or why we perhaps like a system that to others may sound bright (or dull).

    If this is the case, then how can any of us tell if a system sounds "flat" because what sounds "flat" to one shape of ear may not to another?

    Some people have ears that are almost flat to the side of their head while others stick out! Do these people with sticky-out ears hear more treble than "flat" eared people?

    Does Prince Charles therefore perceive high frequencies louder than the rest of us !!!!!

    Maybe if we want a brighter sound we can simply pin our ears forward - much cheaper than buying new kit! - Somebody could make a fortune manufacturing audiofile ear clamps with varying degrees of adjustment!!!

    Yes, there is a funny side to this, but I ask it as a serious question.

    Any ideas?
    Last edited by Les Adams; 10-16-2007 at 06:51 PM.
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  2. #2
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Thats the best thread started on this site since the last year!
    I had the same idea, and even made a ear adjustment thingy out of foam. I like the sound better with my ears tilted forward, but it looks kind of stupid and one could say that it is just a little bit over the top and that this hobby really does damaga braincells.

    Nevertheless a cool topic on a dead site!
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    absolutely

    Quote Originally Posted by Les Adams
    I wasn't quite sure which heading to post this under, but I guess our ears are "audio"!

    Does anyone know if there has been a study of how the shape of our outer ear affects the sound we perceive?
    I have mentioned several times on this site in the past that an audiologist friend of mine insists that the shape of your ears can account for a bigger difference in what you hear than even room acoustics, or any choice of equipment by itself, perhaps even more. He showed me a short study of sensitivity to various frequency ranges and how things change - my ears are practically glued to my head and I don't pick up as much treble as some might - which could explain why I prefer gear that some describe as "bright" and why "warm" equipment sounds unnatural to me.
    Of course, the shape of your ears is only part of the equation, the mechanics inside the ears come into play as well, even the density of the skin/cartlidge etc, all comes into play. Want another level of complexity? Your left and right ear will hear differently as well and your brain kind of "averages" things out.

    The differences and variances by themselvesare quite minor but cumulatively present an entirely different reference point. The brain makes adjustments and over the course of your life you accept what you hear as being normal - but the point of the article was that everybody starts at a different point of reference. Some people might be indifferent to slight attenuations or emphasis at certain frequencies, while for others it crosses a threshold of intolerance. If we were to translate that to a frequency response, some people might be flat or "hear flat", others won't as you suggest.

    This is nothing new, but since ears are very hard to upgrade, the industry assumes people's hearing is a constant, unvariable consideration, when in fact it is not.

    This is part of that "personal preference" and subjectivity in audio - makes some arguments between audiophiles even more ridiculous.

  4. #4
    I took a headstart... basite's Avatar
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    obviously it makes a difference, but not always 'better'
    Life is music!

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  5. #5
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Holy frick!!!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by Les Adams
    I wasn't quite sure which heading to post this under, but I guess our ears are "audio"!

    Does anyone know if there has been a study of how the shape of our outer ear affects the sound we perceive?

    I am aware that if I push my ears forward with my fingers, I get a significant increase in high frequencies. Also, cupping both ears from behind makes a dramatic change in all areas we like to discuss, like soudstage, imaging and general tonal balance.

    Given that we have different shape and size ears to each other, can and does this account to some degree for why we have different tastes in loudspeakers, or why we perhaps like a system that to others may sound bright (or dull).

    If this is the case, then how can any of us tell if a system sounds "flat" because what sounds "flat" to one shape of ear may not to another?

    Some people have ears that are almost flat to the side of their head while others stick out! Do these people with sticky-out ears hear more treble than "flat" eared people?

    Does Prince Charles therefore perceive high frequencies louder than the rest of us !!!!!

    Maybe if we want a brighter sound we can simply pin our ears forward - much cheaper than buying new kit! - Somebody could make a fortune manufacturing audiofile ear clamps with varying degrees of adjustment!!!

    Yes, there is a funny side to this, but I ask it as a serious question.

    Any ideas?
    More business for cosmetic surgeons??

    Les, prove you're not one of them.

  6. #6
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    Thats the best thread started on this site since the last year!
    I had the same idea, and even made a ear adjustment thingy out of foam. I like the sound better with my ears tilted forward, but it looks kind of stupid and one could say that it is just a little bit over the top and that this hobby really does damaga braincells.

    Nevertheless a cool topic on a dead site!
    OMG! Now they'll be selling "Ear clip ons" that improve the sound of your system.

    "Yeas sir, step up to our designer line of Ear extensions. These will improve the high end for you. Those over their help with the mid-range. But if you really want your system to sound it's best, we have these custom foam ones. Each pair adapts to your ears to fit perfectly. Then the foam sets and hardens. See how the sound canal has a clockwise swirl for the left ear and a counter clockwise swirl for the right? That gives the sound a symmetrical feel to it. Otherwise it could spin around and make you dizzy."

    So cool. I'm sure it's true, but I couldn't pass up this chance to make an @$$ of myself. Hey, can I be made of foam too?
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by GMichael
    OMG! Now they'll be selling "Ear clip ons" that improve the sound of your system.

    "Yeas sir, step up to our designer line of Ear extensions. These will improve the high end for you. Those over their help with the mid-range. But if you really want your system to sound it's best, we have these custom foam ones. Each pair adapts to your ears to fit perfectly. Then the foam sets and hardens. See how the sound canal has a clockwise swirl for the left ear and a counter clockwise swirl for the right? That gives the sound a symmetrical feel to it. Otherwise it could spin around and make you dizzy."

    So cool. I'm sure it's true, but I couldn't pass up this chance to make an @$$ of myself. Hey, can I be made of foam too?
    Where can I get them? I've gots load of money. I needs it.

  8. #8
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mikemorrow
    Where can I get them? I've gots load of money. I needs it.
    They are in the isle next to the porcelain lifts that keep your speaker wires from touching the ground. Just down the hall from he wooden knobs.
    Funny thing is though, these may actually DO something.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  9. #9
    Shostakovich fan Feanor's Avatar
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    Likely vendor

    Quote Originally Posted by mikemorrow
    Where can I get them? I've gots load of money. I needs it.

    GM is deep in negociation with Machina Dynamica to sell his product ...

  10. #10
    Music / Hi-Fi enthusiast Les Adams's Avatar
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    Hold on guys, remember who started this thread! If there is a buck to be made it's gonna be mine! I have already been in contact with the patent office and registered the idea of a device to fit to, on or around the ear for the purpose of shaping sound for audiophiles. So BACK OFF!

    I have another idea. Salesmen in hi-fi stores could be trained and qualified in ear shape. By measuring the size, angle and shape of a customer's ear, they will be able to design a whole system to suit.

    I am going to set up a course so that retailers can send their salemen along, probably for a weekend with lots of beer and wine (to encourage attendance and to study the affects of alcohol on hearing) and my experts will train them on how to measure the ear correctly. By then I will have developed some kind of compass-like device for truly accurate measurement of all parts of the ear, inner and outer including lobes and angle. At the end of the course they will get a diploma in ear analysis for audiophiles (EAFA).

    I am going to set up EAFA schools all over the world and I will be retired and filthy rich in 12 months... yipeeee !!!
    STEREO

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    AV
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    Gale Satellites for rear L + R

    Interconnects are Van Den Hul 102 mk3

  11. #11
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Les Adams
    Hold on guys, remember who started this thread! If there is a buck to be made it's gonna be mine! I have already been in contact with the patent office and registered the idea of a device to fit to, on or around the ear for the purpose of shaping sound for audiophiles. So BACK OFF!

    I have another idea. Salesmen in hi-fi stores could be trained and qualified in ear shape. By measuring the size, angle and shape of a customer's ear, they will be able to design a whole system to suit.

    I am going to set up a course so that retailers can send their salemen along, probably for a weekend with lots of beer and wine (to encourage attendance and to study the affects of alcohol on hearing) and my experts will train them on how to measure the ear correctly. By then I will have developed some kind of compass-like device for truly accurate measurement of all parts of the ear, inner and outer including lobes and angle. At the end of the course they will get a diploma in ear analysis for audiophiles (EAFA).

    I am going to set up EAFA schools all over the world and I will be retired and filthy rich in 12 months... yipeeee !!!
    The company is all yours. Just let me take care of the supply end of things. I can negotiate with suppliers to get our costs down. You take care of the marketing, but please, I have good ideas too. Don't forget to listen to what input I have as well. I already have ideas on how we could use this foam to help stop diarrhea in the world.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  12. #12
    Stereo value > car value texlle's Avatar
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    Just remember your Q-tips after you jump out of the shower! Hehe...extract that earwax for optimal listening, fellow audio enthusiasts.
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  13. #13
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by texlle
    Just remember your Q-tips after you jump out of the shower! Hehe...extract that earwax for optimal listening, fellow audio enthusiasts.
    Q-tips make things worse, it pushes the wax towards the eardrum. A spray bottle with a long skinny nozzel and warm water does the trick nicely. Its what my doctor uses, and I now use at home.
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  14. #14
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Q-tips make things worse, it pushes the wax towards the eardrum. A spray bottle with a long skinny nozzel and warm water does the trick nicely. Its what my doctor uses, and I now use at home.
    Eeeeeeeeewwwwwwww....

  15. #15
    Suspended topspeed's Avatar
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    You know, someone once marketed a product like this a couple of years ago. Sorry Les, no patent for you. The things looked like dumbo ears and clipped onto your head just behind your ears.

  16. #16
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by topspeed



    You know, someone once marketed a product like this a couple of years ago. Sorry Les, no patent for you. The things looked like dumbo ears and clipped onto your head just behind your ears.
    I know ths guy. He has a kick ars system. Bose cubes as mains, and KLH for center & rears. He uses 7, 4" down firing subs. All driven by an Emerson "all in one" receiver with built in 8-track, casset and record changer.

    The ears make it all sound great.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  17. #17
    Do What? jrhymeammo's Avatar
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    Very cool thread, and I say this cuz I used to think abou that too. Problem is that if I had started this thread, members would think,

    "Oh boy, there he goes again.."



    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    Q-tips make things worse, it pushes the wax towards the eardrum. A spray bottle with a long skinny nozzel and warm water does the trick nicely. Its what my doctor uses, and I now use at home.
    hmm..........

    JRA

  18. #18
    Bill L
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    I've noticed that when I'm listening to music and yawn, that for a brief time in the middle of the yawn, the music sounds slighty louder and high frequencies seem to sound better (probably has something to do with stretching the eardrum).

    Therefore, I recommend that if you want to get the best out of your music, you should listen to it when you're dead tired.

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