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Detection of High-Frequency Harmonics in a Brief Complex Tone

Prior investigations have generally failed to confirm or deny the perceptual influence of high-frequency harmonics contained in musical sounds. Because harmonics that are beyond the frequency range of auditory detection influence the resulting waveform, they may alter the perception of a sound’s tonal character. This study found no evidence that capable listeners noticed an effect of high-frequency harmonics within a brief complex tone. With regard to the influence of high-frequency harmonic content on timbre perception, subjects were capable of performing the assigned task, the presentation technology was adequate for delivering reliable stimuli, the stimuli were appropriate for the interests of the study, and yet, there were no indications that the presence of high-frequency harmonics influenced listeners’ perception of the timbre of a complex waveform.


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