J. Phys. IV France 02 (1992) C1-3-C1-11
LE SON NUMÉRIQUE : UNE ACOUSTIQUE AFFRANCHIE DE LA MÉCANIQUE ?J. RISSET
Laboratoire de Mécanique et d'Acoustique, 31 Chemin Joseph Aiguier, F-13000 Marseille, France
Since 1875, there have been radical innovations in our ways to deal with sound. Sounds could be recorded and converted into electrical vibrations and vice-versa. Electronics made radio and sound recording practical. A new era came about with the advent of digital recording, synthesis and processing of sound, pioneered in 1957 by Mathews. Sounds can now be coded arbitrarily and elaborated with unprecedented precision and flexibility, which seems to free acoustics from the constraints of mechanics. This has opened new applications in speech, music, noise absorption, room acoustics ; as demonstrated by acoustic illusions, it has also greatly improved our understanding of auditory perception, specially in the field of timbre. The limitations of digital acoustics depend upon the differential capacities of perception rather than upon the constraints of mechanics. Yet our auditory perception is geared to a world of mechanically-produced sounds, and mechanics should not be given a cavalier dismissal, as the work of Gibson and Cadoz has suggested : the specifics of mechanical vibrations shed light on the the perceptual organization in the hearing process. In particular, digitally-implemented mechanical models may - at least in certain cases -turn out to be more valuable for the creation of musical sounds than signal-processing models. However the ultimate criterion for endeavours related to hearing remains perceptual.
© EDP Sciences 1992