Auditory Demonstration CDs

Hearing a demonstration of an auditory phenomena is an irreplaceable way to get an insight into what it is about. Auditory researchers are less fortunate than their colleagues in visual perception (of static, 2-D scenes at least), since until fairly recently auditory stimuli have been cumbersome to distribute. However, in the media-enriched environment of today, we have many excellent opportunities to share and experience auditory perceptual effects.

This is illustrated nowhere better than in compact disks that demonstrate hearing phenomena. If you've never heard one of these CDs, I can't recommend them too strongly; I got a completely different appreciation of the interaction of critical bands and loudness perception when I listened to the carefully-constructed demonstration on the ASA/IPO CD, for instance. Most other illustrations are similarly edifying and compelling.

On this page, I've gathered together information and pointers on as many CDs that could be termed `auditory demonstrations' as I know of. If you see any omissions, please drop me a line so I can add them. Thanks!

The CDs described in this page are:

ASA/IPO "Auditory Demonstrations"

This well-known and much-used CD was compiled by Houtsma, Rossing, and Wagenaars, and produced under the auspices of the Acoustical Society of America and the Institute for Perception Research (IPO) in Eindhoven.

The following is from, which also includes ordering information:

A useful teaching adjunct for lectures or a course on hearing and auditory effects, and provides signals for teaching laboratories. Contains 39 sections demonstrating various characteristics of hearing [loudness, masking, pitch, timbre, auditory grouping, and some binaural effects]. A text booklet is provided containing introductions and narrations of each topic and bibliographies for providing more detailed information. Issued in 1989.

Bill Hartman <> adds that many people find his review and tutorial article (JASA vol 93, page 1, 1993) on the use of the CD is a useful addition.

Peter Cariani <> adds:

There is also a videotape of the ASA Auditory Demonstrations CD as represented in the running Licklider duplex representation (cochleogram, correlogram) of Richard Lyon and Malcolm Slaney. 1991. "Apple Hearing Demo Reel". I think this may be available through Apple, Cupertino, CA, and/or through the authors.

Malcolm describes how to request this tape on his web page. I followed thes instructions and was promptly and cheerfully sent the video tape along with an accompanying report.

Bregman's "Demonstrations of Auditory Scene Analysis"

The following information is from which will also link you to ordering information.

Demonstrations of Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of Sound.

Albert S. Bregman & Pierre A. Ahad,
Department of Psychology, McGill University.

This is a single CD, 62 minutes in duration, packaged in a double-CD case together with a 78-page booklet of explanations. While it is based on the principles set forth in the book, Auditory scene analysis: The perceptual organization of sound, by A. S. Bregman, the accompanying booklet allows the demonstrations to be understood without reference to the 1990/1994 book. It consists of a set of 41 demonstrations. A lot is now known about the features of the changing spectrum that allow the human brain to solve the ASA problem. The heuristics that it uses are illustrated by these auditory demonstrations.

Deutsch's "Musical illusions and paradoxes"

Musical Illusions and Paradoxes

Explore the world of auditory illusions on this unique CD by Professor Diana Deutsch, the "Escher of the world of music." Included on the CD are full instructions for listening to each illusion, and the CD is accompanied by a booklet explaining the science behind each illusion. The following auditory and musical illusions are presented; Octave illusion; High-Low Scale Illusion; Chromatic Illusion; Glissando Illusion; Tritone Paradox; and Mysterious Melody.

Total playing time 42.21 minutes.

More information may also be available from the publisher, Philomel Records, PO Box 12189, La Jolla CA 92039-2189. Diana is <>.

Update 2004-03: Philomel has released a second CD, "Phantom words and other curiosities", also available at their site.

Duda's "Binaural Demonstrations"

Bob Carlyon <> writes:

There are some very good localisation demos (including the precedence and Franssen effects, and some impressive KEMAR recordings) which accompany an article by R.O. Duda (1996) in Acustica united with acta acustica, volume 82, p346-355. The CD was distributed with that issue the journal so I think you'd have to order a back copy of the journal if you don't have it.

I'm currently looking into the availability of this CD

Moore's "Perceptual consequences of cochlear damage"

from Brian Moore <>:

There is also the CD that I have produced called "Audio demonstrations to accompany perceptual consequences of cochlear damage". It consists mainly of simulations of what it is like to have a cochlear hearing loss. It can be obtained by sending me a cheque for 12 pounds sterling or a check for 20 dollars.
Brian C.J. Moore, Ph.D
Professor of Auditory Perception,
Dept. of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge,
Downing Street, Cambridge CB2 3EB, England
Tel. (+) 44 1223 333574 FAX: (+) 44 1223 333564

"The Musician's Guide to Perception and Cognition" by David Butler

Peter Cariani <> told me about this book which has an accompanying CD of demonstrations covering pitch, loudness, timbre, attention and adpatation. It is available from Shirmer Books (Macmillan) and was published in 1992. lists the book as on back-order, and quotes from the publisher:

Written from a musician's point of view, this book describes what is known of the psychoacoustical features and the cognitive aspects of musical sound. It reviews the literature related to pitch, timbre, loudness, time, space, and the development of cognitive awareness from prenatal responses to adult testing. Critical discussions are augmented by 62 listening examples on the enclosed compact disc.

"Auditory Displays" ed. Kramer

Gregory Kramer has organized a series of International Conferences on Auditory Display ( ICAD). Peter Cariani <> (again!) had this to say about the proceedings (published by Addison Wesley, for the 1992 conference):

Book/CD of various 'sonifications' of data through conversion to acoustic stimuli. Contains an example of a virtual space simulation for enhancing separation of different voices for air traffic controllers. I was surprised at how well it works..... includes this comment from Book News, Inc:

Proceedings of a conference held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, in October 1992. Recognizing how adept people are at interpreting sounds, especially very subtle ones, researchers have been developing tools that promise to be useful in real-time applications, from the monitoring of hospital operating rooms to air traffic control. The display of data through sound provides new tools for recognizing patterns and analyzing data, extending the process of discovery in such diverse fields as parallel computer programming, geophysics, financial analysis, and fluid dynamics. A CD-ROM is included containing the sound examples referred to in the text.
Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.

"The Science of Musical Sound" by J. R. Pierce

This beautiful book, from the Scientific American Library series, had no small influence on my future intellectual inclinations after I was given it during my first year at college. Unfortunately, it predates CDs, but it included demonstrations and examples on a couple of flexidisks (if you remember them). A couple of years ago we were clearing up our lab and unearthed a turntable. One doesn't see these very frequently any more, so I took the opportunity to transfer the disks from the Pierce book onto DAT. I note this here in case anybody is desperate to hear an example from the book but stymied by the equipment requirements.

From memory, there is about an hour of material, including demonstrations of phenomena such as harmonicity and inharmonicity, different tunings, and several fragments of computer music that use effects such as localization and Risset's famous realizations of the endlessly-descending "Shepard tone". lists the 1983 hardback edition of this book as out-of-print, but refer to a 1992 revised edition in paperback. I don't know if it includes the sound examples. If it did, I bet they'd be on CD.

"Sound & Hearing" by R. Duncan Luce

Larry Feth <> told me about this textbook with accompanying CD. lists both the book, "Sound & Hearing: A Conceptual Introduction" and the CD, "Sound & Hearing Demonstration Disk", both from Lawrence Erlbaum, who describe the book at

The major aim of this book is to introduce the ways in which scientists approach and think about a phenomenon -- hearing -- that intersects three quite different disciplines: the physics of sound sources and the propagation of sound through air and other materials, the anatomy and physiology of the transformation of the physical sound into neural activity in the brain, and the psychology of the perception we call hearing. Physics, biology, and psychology each play a role in understanding how and what we hear.

The text evolved over the past decade in an attempt to convey something about scientific thinking, as evidenced in the domain of sounds and their perception, to students whose primary focus is not science. It does so using a minimum of mathematics (high school functions such as linear, logarithmic, sine, and power) without compromising scientific integrity. A significant enrichment is the availability of a compact disc (CD) containing over 20 examples of acoustic demonstrations referred to in the book. These demonstrations, which range from echo effects and filtered noise to categorical speech perception and total more than 45 minutes, are invaluable resources for making the text come alive.

DAn Ellis <>
International Computer Science Institute, Berkeley CA
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