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Old 16th July 2005
Gear Guru

good stuff. So if Place Theory is correct and higher volumes excite adjacent cillia in the cochlea that would not only explain why pitch perception goes out the window when things get loud, it would also explain why headphones are worse than speakers for this - because they are attached to the head and can vibrate the cochlea directly. This totally makes sense to me.

On the other hand, everybody here says "sharp" and Johnny T specifically reports bass frequencies going sharp, whereas the chart by Karjalainen shows frequencies below 2k perceived as going _flat as SPL goes up

according to the chart, 60db is the perfect level for pitch perception. I will try that on monday's vocal session and see if the singer goes for it. heh

JoeQ, pitch and tempo are different....they are linked by speed of the recording medium, but they are not necessarilly dependant (i.e. you can do a pitch shift while keeping tempo constant).
Try doing that on a tape deck. The only reason you can change pitch and tempo separately is because your DAW is interpolating the samples -essentially creating new information. From a physics point of view, they are the same thing. A kick drum twice a second is a disco beat. A kick drum 52 times a second is a G#.

Anyway, I don't think pitch is really changing with the headphones- just the perception of pitch


Regarding the concept of singing closed loop to a pitch shifted you wouldn't just naturally start singing a little flat to compensate, you need that closed loop feedback on every note to know if you're in tune or not. You're a drummer, well imagine playing drums to a headphone feed that is delayed by 200 ms (not in time with the music). You now need to play well ahead of the music in order to make the playback you hear sound's your playing going to be? I bet you won't be 'in the pocket'...just like a singer won't be solidly 'in tune'.
Point taken. But 200ms is an unfair analogy. To be 10 cents flat (which at 1kHz doesn't happen until you get to 90db according to Karjalainen's chart) is more like having a 2 or 3 ms delay, which people compensate for all the time. People using native DAWs, guitarists sitting a few feet from their amps. Hell, I have a big thick ride cymbal that takes a couple of milliseconds to react- I literally have to get a little bit 'on top' with my right hand on a fast song.

besides, you are not actually singing to a pitch shifted source (stick the mic from your tuner into the cup of your earphones- is it sharp?) - only your perception of pitch is changed and that should change for everything you hear. The only thing I can think of is if maybe singers can "feel" the pitch of their vocal cords and rely as much on that feedback as the feedback they get from their ears.

This thread makes me wonder how anybody can play music at all. If you are on stage with a band, and it's really Loud and you are several yards away from other sound sources and they from you- the timing and the pitch is going to be All Off. Then of course, the people on the dance floor in front of the band will think you are playing too fast and will stop dancing. The people outside in the parking lot will think you are playing too slow and won't bother to come in. It obviously can't work.

I had better cancel tomorrow night's gig.