Sunday, April 3, 2011

Welcome to How to Listen!

How to Listen is a desktop software application developed by the Harman International R&D group for the purpose of training and selecting listeners used in audio product research, development, and testing. The software consists of a number of training exercises where different kinds of timbral, spatial and dynamic distortions commonly found within the recording and audio chains are simulated and added to music. 
The listener’s task is to identify, classify or rate these distortions according to a number of well-defined perceptual attributes and scales. The software automatically adjusts the difficulty of each training task based on the listener’s performance. 
We are happy to offer a free beta version of this software to audio enthusiasts in the hope that they will use it to improve their critical listening skills and appreciation for high quality sound reproduction. Enjoy!
  • Supports 2-channel stereo and multichannel wav files (up to 24 bit, 96 kHz)
  • includes Session and Practice Modes
  • Currently supports two training tasks (more will be added in the next release) that include the following:
Band Identification
    • Peaks, Dips, Peaks & Dips, Low and High pass filters
Attribute Task
    • Bright-Dull
    • Full-Thin
    • Coloration
    • Reverberation
    • Noisy/Noise-free
    • Hum/Hum-free
    • Left/Right Balance (stereo mode)
    • Front/Rear Balance (surround mode)
More information about  How to Listen can be found here.

Download How to Listen
You can download public release versions of How to Listen for Mac OS X and Windows OS computers below.  A copy of the user’s manual (PDF) can be downloaded separately here.  

Main features/fixes in version 2.04
1. Windows - The noise and hum attribute tests are now working.
2. Mac - The noise and hum attribute tests are now working.
3. Known Issues -  For Mac and Windows you may need to manually change the permissions to read/write in the Application Folder and Application Data and Support folders. (See the section "Manually Setting Folder Permissions"  on page 6 of the user manual ) After updating to version 2.04 from 2.03,  make sure you create a new username account when logging in the first time (see section "Update from an Older Version of How to Listen" on page 7 of the user manual.)

Version 2.0.4  Beta (4.3.11)

Version 2.0.4 Beta (4.3.11)
  • Requires Mac OS 10.5 Leopard or higher

  •  Requires Windows XP SP3 or higher

Program Material

Music samples included with How to Listen are provided by Bravura Records. These high resolution recordings from Bravura are recorded and mixed live as 24 bit/192 kHz files by the legendary recording engineering/producer Bill Schnee, who has been Grammy-nominated 11 times for Best Engineered Recording and has won twice for Aja and Gaucho, both from Steely Dan. Bravura recordings are made using musicians with real talent, recorded in real-time. To find more information about Bravura Records please visit their website:

 Descriptions of the recordings provided by Bravura Records are below:

Track 1: How Long by Bill Cantos
Bill is an extremely gifted singer, songwriter, arranger, and pianist. His fabulous arranging skills are truly shown on this classic pop hit from the 70’s.

Track 2: Clap Hands by George Krikes (Kreekus)
George is a young indie/pop artist with a smooth voice, who’s a great arranger and a wonderful songwriter. His appeal will span a broad demographic.

Track 3: Four Wheel Drive by Paul Thorn
Paul is a brilliant singer/song writer who forms his unique brand of American storytelling from the world around him. Descriptive terms such as inspiration, eccentricity, and character all tell part of this story. But hearing him live says it all!

Track 4: Fiesta Linda by Open Hands
Led by the legendary Abraham Laboriel of whom Larry Carleton once said. “There are a lot of great bass players in this world, but there is one, and only one Abraham Laboriel.” Everything this band plays embraces the joy of music making to the fullest!

At this time, we cannot provide technical support for the software. We welcome any comments, suggested features and improvements, and encourage you to report any bugs by sending an email to: Please describe the problem in detail and include:
  1. The version of How to Listen you"re using
  2. Your OS version (Mac or Windows)
  3. The sound file format (if the problem is related to sound playback)