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Loudspeakers by Keith Holland, Philip Newell

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Chapter 9

Subjective and objective assessment

9.1 The general situation

The human hearing system is quite extraordinarily sensitive and complex. It has a frequency range of around eleven octaves if one considers physical sensation as part of the process, and a dynamic range such that the lowest audible sounds have power levels of only 10−12 compared to the loudest sounds before the threshold of pain in the ears. That is a power ratio of one million, million times (one trillion in American English). At the lowest detectable sound pressure levels, the lateral movement of the ear drum, (or tympanic membrane) is less than the diameter of a hydrogen molecule, and if the average ear were only 9 or 10 decibels more sensitive, we would experience a ...

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