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Author Topic: Keeping it Real II: In-Ear Monitoring And The Acoustic Reflex Threshold  (Read 1289 times)

M. Erik Matlock

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Keeping it Real II: In-Ear Monitoring And The Acoustic Reflex Threshold
Considering some of the complex mechanisms performed by the human brain that affect localization and our perception of loudness.
By Becky Pell • November 8, 2018

Editor’s note: This is part two of a three-part series. Part one was featured in LSI October 2018 and can also be found on ProSoundWeb.

Have you ever noticed how you and the band can take a break from rehearsing, come back half an hour later, and when put in your in-ear monitors (IEMs), everything feels louder? And then how after a few moments it settles down and feels normal again?

It’s because of a reflex action of the stapedius muscle in the middle ear. When this little muscle contracts, it pulls the stapes or “stirrup bone” slightly away from the oval window of the cochlea, against which it normally vibrates to transmit pressure waves to be converted into nerve impulses. This action, which is a response to sounds between 70 to 100dB SPL, effectively creates a compression effect that results in about a 20dB reduction in what we hear.

However, the muscle can’t stay fully contracted for long periods, so after a few seconds, the tension drops to around 50 percent of the maximum...

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