Sounds Realer Than Reality

June 5, 2002 | Source: Science Online

Scientists can generate imitations of real-life sounds significantly more convincing than actual recordings of the events they are intended to mimic.Experimental psychologists Laurie Heller and Lauren Wolf at Brown University found that listeners rated some artificially generated sounds — simulating “walking in leaves” by running fingers through cornflakes, for example — as more convincing than the real ones.

Enhancing the sound envelope (slower changing component) results in better perception of actions such as walking, while augmenting the faster acoustic portions of a sound apparently helps people identify what materials are involved in an event. The researchers say the findings are a step toward understanding what acoustic clues the brain uses to interpret sounds.

When Sound Effects Are Better Than The Real Thing, Acoustical Society of America meeting presentation