Hi everyone!

So, I've been reading this amazing book my Michel Chion, "Audiovision" in which the author considers that the time domain prevails in sound, most specifically within sound fragments, whereas the spatial dimension doesn't seem to exist at all. The visual examples mentioned are 1) someone observing the whole of a scenario, to a detail of that scenario and 2) someone observing something that turns to be his focus of attention. Trying to achieve some like this with sound would result only in a time flow.

I'd love to know what all sound designers out there think about this and if someone thinks there is a way of somehow carrying spatial dimension through sound.

About example 1 I thought to myself if the character is observing, for example, a room full of random objects and he starts to focus his attention, let's say, to a ticking watch on the other side of the room. If the sound of the ticking starts to be heard when the character notices it and starts to pay attention, being that sound balanced between the room space, character and/ or audience P.O.V., would these sound fragments carry somewhat spatial information? I'm guessing it does, although the time domain would always be there.

1 Answer 1


Your interpretations of the examples make sense to me. I think sound can carry spatial information (we can usually tell where a sound comes from, and in what kind of space it is), and vision can carry time information (all movement indicates time).

But i think the way we use our senses is the cause of the bias that Chion speaks of. For example, if we hear a sound, we instinctively want to gather more spatial information with our eyes. Maybe our ears tell us that the clock is a grandfather clock, is to our right, and is in a medium sized, tiled room - but our eyes will tell us exactly what the clock looks like, the colour of the floor, what's beside and above the clock, and countless other details that our ears have no way of perceiving.

Our ears, on the other hand, are so much more sensitive to rhythm. Maybe because we spend our entire lives with our heart beating down there in our chest. If the clock was even slightly fast or irregular, our ears would pick it up straight away; i don't think our eyes would. And without our ears, maybe we wouldn't even realise it was there in the first place.

So i guess it's our body using the best tools for the job. But yeah, i would say that panning, eq and reverb are definitely forms of spatial information. Great topic! I think psychoacoustics is so relevant to what we do.

  • Thanks!, great answer! And now, could sound fragments not carry / transmit time domain information? :) Apr 16, 2012 at 22:08
  • Would a very static sound serve that purpose? Apr 16, 2012 at 22:14
  • Nice answer! The third paragraph bit reminds me of doing computer sequences - or windshield wipers. Sometimes the edits between shots cause a visual rhythm of a computer screen graphix to skip weirdly because the editor wasn't paying attention to the shot's content (and sometimes they can't because of the complex graphix). But then when we try to frame-match our repetitive 'beep' sound to what's in the edit, the rhythm catches our ear wrong because it's broken up all the time. SO we indeed go for a rhythm and feeling sync sometimes rather than the absolute sync. Apr 16, 2012 at 23:42
  • @Stavrosound Thanks! That is an interesting point, about the aural rhythms we expect vs. the visual rhythms as they're cut. @Melissa I think anything that "happens", even a 1 sample piece of audio, has time information. Maybe a long, monotonous tone would carry less rhythmic, and therefore time, information. It still has some, though. Anything that's measured in Hertz (all sound) inherently carries time info. Apr 17, 2012 at 0:03

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