SOUND QUALITY VS. SOUND IDENTITY
At the 5th Audio Branding Congress in Moscow a study was presented, that was conducted by Christoph Anzenbacher in cooperation with the University of Vienna and the Macromedia University for Media and Communication Cologne. The topic is ‘the perceptibility of audio logos under everyday conditions of transmission and reception’.
On the basis of the masking effect in everyday life, the study concentrates on testing the transmission capacity of audiologos and acoustic components that appear more rubust and flexible in different acousic environments.
The results of this study will be published as an article in the Audio Branding Academy Yearbook 2013 / 2014. And there is also the possibility of using an interactive matrix to listen and compare the selected audio logos with associated spectrograms and frequency characteristics.
Summary of the results:
Owing to the existing spectra of the 10 audio logos and their analysis as well as a perception experiment (n = 162), the following criteria for a robust audio message can be established:
1) Spectral peaks
The more the spectral energy is concentrated on a few peaks, the higher the expectation that the audio logo can transmit effectively and in addition penetrate denser ambient noises (e. g. a whistle motif).
2) Spectral components above 1000 Hz
Energy components above 1000 Hz make an audio logo particularly robust (e. g. Glockenspiel), since the surrounding sound sources in the lower range usually do not radiate as well (or the transmission range is limited, especially in the case of telephones), and the ambient noise is often concentrated in the low-frequency range (e.g., the Audi audio logo is usually completely masked or can only be poorly transmitted).
3) Broadband sound
Audio logos with broadband sound transmit well in most cases, but are more quickly masked. The energy components remaining after the transmission are usually weak and therefore often remain below the masking curve of the ambient noise.
Speech and a singing voice (preferably with strong frequency components above 1000 Hz) is easier to understand owing to human brain’s ability to bring spoken phrases to completion when it comes to speech perception.
It was shown that testing the transmission capacity of audio logos can be useful in determining how robust and unique they are. This combination is especially relevant in view of communication in the context of new media applications and their loudspeakers (mobile devices, embedded systems, desktop systems). In view of a corporate sound, these criteria should undoubtedly be taken into account in practice, especially when diverse media is planned for use or to optimizing the sounds for use at special points of contact. What remains to be considered is whether to focus on sound quality or rather sound identity, or, even better, how to combine these two criteria without suffering considerable losses.
Anzenbacher, C., Reuter, C. & Oehler, M. (2014). Sound Quality vs. Sound Identity. The perceptibility of audio logos unter everyday conditions of transmission and reception, in: Bronner, K., Hirt, R. & Ringe, C. [Hrsg.]. Audio Branding Academy Yearbook 2013/2014, Baden-Banden: Nomos.