Written by 1:06 am Digital

Quantifying Ecstasy

Can the subjective audio experience be quantified? Dr. Charles Zellig and Jay Clawson believe that it can. I’m withholding judgment until I’ve read all four installments of their articles.

AR-ecstcy2.jpgIn the latest issue of The Absolute Sound #218, I have two pieces – a review of the Studio Electric Monitor speakers and a survey of Mac music playback software, but the principal reason I want to direct your attention to issue #218 is an article entitled “Computer Audio Sound Quality” by Dr. Charles Zellig, and Jay Clawson. The first of a four-part article, it promises, “to maximize CD and high resolution digital audio sound quality.”  (Imagine your best John Wayne voice), “That’s a tall order, stranger…”

Once I read far enough to find out that both review evaluation computer systems used for the rest of the article were home-brew PCs, the article lost much of its personal relevance for my own Mac-centric world. But one piece of evaluation methodology I found fascinating was their one to two-hundred point rating system for establishing sound quality.

The red mark on the scale in figure 2, right around 170 level, reads “Emotional Threshold.” It immediately reminded me of Harvey Rosenberg’s concept of “musical ecstasy.”  Zellig and Clawson describe this moment as, “the point at which one becomes truly transported by the music.” Harvey would have said, “It’s when you get off…” with a smile that could also be interpreted as a leer…

I’m looking forward to reading the next three installments of what appears to be a fairly epic sonic journey. It’s a shame they’ll be at least a month apart, since TAS is only published ten times a year. A lot can happen in 120 days in the computer world…

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