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J Voice. 2006 Dec;20(4):513-26. Epub 2005 Dec 1.

Comparison of the produced and perceived voice range profiles in untrained and trained classical singers.

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National Center for Voice and Speech, The Denver Center for the Performing Arts, Denver, CO 80204, USA.


Frequency and intensity ranges (in true decibel sound pressure level, 20 microPa at 1 m) of voice production in trained and untrained vocalists were compared with the perceived dynamic range (phons) and units of loudness (sones) of the ear. Results were reported in terms of standard voice range profiles (VRPs), perceived VRPs (as predicted by accepted measures of auditory sensitivities), and a new metric labeled as an overall perceptual level construct. Trained classical singers made use of the most sensitive part of the hearing range (around 3-4 kHz) through the use of the singer's formant. When mapped onto the contours of equal loudness (depicting nonuniform spectral and dynamic sensitivities of the auditory system), the formant is perceived at an even higher sound level, as measured in phons, than a flat or A-weighted spectrum would indicate. The contributions of effects like the singer's formant and the sensitivities of the auditory system helped the trained singers produce 20% to 40% more units of loudness, as measured in sones, than the untrained singers. Trained male vocalists had a maximum overall perceptual level construct that was 40% higher than the untrained male vocalists. Although the A-weighted spectrum (commonly used in VRP measurement) is a reasonable first-order approximation of auditory sensitivities, it misrepresents the most salient part of the sensitivities (where the singer's formant is found) by nearly 10 dB.

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