Perception of distortion is difficult to determine since it relies critically on signal level. We study a distortion characteristic possessing a relative distortion independent of signal level—a simple change in slope between positive and negative signal excursion. A mathematical analysis is presented, showing the resulting distortion to be mainly even harmonic but with some rectification effects, which need consideration. Various signals are evaluated by informal A/B listening tests, including pure tones and music. Judiciously-chosen signals have distortions that are detectable only if they are above 1%, in keeping with psychoacoustic masking data, while real music signals are considerably more tolerant of distortion up to levels of 5% or more! This implies that, except for crossover distortion, present-day electronic systems are all sufficiently linear.
This paper costs $33 for non-members and is free for AES members and E-Library subscribers.
The Engineering Briefs at this Convention were selected on the basis of a submitted synopsis, ensuring that they are of interest to AES members, and are not overly commercial. These briefs have been reproduced from the authors' advance manuscripts, without editing, corrections, or consideration by the Review Board. The AES takes no responsibility for their contents. Paper copies are not available, but any member can freely access these briefs. Members are encouraged to provide comments that enhance their usefulness.