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1) Audio Quality

The subject of this white paper is audio quality in networked systems. One might think that everybody in the audio industry knows what the words ‘audio’, ‘quality’ and ‘system’ mean. The length of this first chapter proves otherwise; the words can be - and very often are - perceived in different ways by different individuals, often causing discussions about a system’s audio quality and sound quality to end up in endless repetitions of the words ‘is’ and ‘is not’.

1.1 Audio

In the field of neurosciences, the human hearing system is named 'human auditory system'. It's a bio-mechanical system that converts acoustic audio waves reaching the human ears through the air and the scull's bone structure into coded neural firing patterns. Auditory nerve strings transfer them to the central auditory nervous system in the human brain, with the latter interpreting the firing patterns to produce a hearing sensation. The hearing sensation is invoked by the heard audio signal, but it is influenced by all other sensations in the brain - from memory, but also from other real-time sensory organs such as vision, smell and touch.

In this white paper, all phenomenon, processes, systems and characteristics pertaining to generating, processing and transporting signals in the audible range of the human auditory system are referred to by the adjective 'audio'.

(adjective) designates objects (eg. signals, processes, devices, systems) or characteristics (eg. frequency, level, time) to pertain to signals in the audible range of the human auditory system.

table 101: audio designation examples

term meaning
audio signal the portion of any time-variant signal that falls in the audible range of the human auditory system, capable of invoking a hearing sensation. The signal can be acoustic, electronic or digital.
audio process generation, transport, change and/or storage of an audio signal.
audio system a system that processes audio signals.
audio characteristic a (physical) feature of an audio signal (eg. level, frequency, time).
audio system characteristic a (physical) feature of an audio system (eg. dynamic range, frequency range, time range).
sound source a human voice, musical instrument or any phenomenon that generates an audio signal.

>>1.2 Sound

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