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How do Humans Perceive Simultaneous Sounds?

Noral D. Stewart noral at ix.netcom.com
Fri Mar 26 15:02:02 EST 1999

You did very well to come up with 30 milliseconds.  That is the number I
would have given you.  We sometimes allow a little more in practical
situations, not more than 50 ms.  Look for some books on architectural
acoustics, specifically room acoustics.  This is an important factor in
the design of rooms for music and speech clarity.  I am forwarding your
post to alt.sci.physics.acoustics where others may have comments.

Noral Stewart

John Segrave wrote:
> Hi,
> I am a final year computer science student in Ireland.  My research thesis
> is to develop a program that lets musicians play music together across a
> computer network (not the internet unfortunately!).
> One question I have been unable to answer is this (I hope this is within the
> domain of audiology!):
> What is the longest time delay you can have between two different sounds
> starting, such that the ear still thinks they started simultaneously?
> For example:  If a guitar player and a drummer are sitting in a room and
> they start playing a tune, then the ear should perceive them to be in sync.
> (even though there is a short time delay before the sound waves from the
> guitar reach the drummers ears, and vice-versa).
> However, if the drummer and the guitar player were very far away from each
> other, that delay would be much longer.  So how long would the delay need to
> be before they can no longer play together?  (because the delay is messing
> up their ability to be in sync).
> I have tried to perform some simple tests at home, and have arrived at a
> rough figure of about 30 milliseconds, but I am no audiologist!!  I was
> hoping someone in this newsgroup might know something about this aspect of
> human hearing.  Maybe someone could suggest a book that deals with this kind
> of topic?
> I have searched the web, but have found nothing so far.  Any help you can
> offer would be very much appreciated.
> Thanks!
> John Segrave
> segravej at tcd.ie

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