Experiments confirm audio manufacturer’s theory that high quality audio affects listener reactions across multiple dynamics
High-quality audio will make people think you’re clever, that what you’re saying is important, and that their communication with you is a good experience. They’ll even like you more, according to a study entitled ‘Good Sound, Good Research: How Audio Quality Influences Perceptions of the Research and Researcher’, published in the Science Communication Journal.
The research confirms feedback from clients responding to the quality of video conferencing systems to market leading audio manufacture Shure – that good audio increases engagement levels, productivity and is better for mental wellbeing than poor audio quality.
The study, led by Eryn Newman from the University of Southern California and Norbert Schwarz from the Australian National University, conducted two experiments to determine the impact of audio quality on listeners’ perceptions of the content, quality and presenters of information.
The first experiment involved presenting identical conference talks in high and low audio quality and then asking listeners to evaluate the research and researcher. The researchers selected two conference talks from YouTube and altered their acoustic quality. Participants watched both talks and rated the quality of the talks, the intelligence of the speaker, how much they liked the speaker, and the importance of the research being discussed.
As shown in Figure 1, the quality of the audio influenced listener perceptions of the content across the board – from whether the talk was good to the smartness of the speaker and the importance of their research. The Figure also demonstrates that for both talks on the subjects of engineering and physics, listeners liked the speaker more when they were given high quality audio to listen to.
In the second experiment, the researchers selected two radio interviews from NPR’s Science Friday and altered the apparent phone line quality of the researcher. Participants listened to both interviews – one presented with high and one with low audio quality – and rated the quality of the research, the competence of the researcher, how good the interview was, and whether they would share the interview on social media.
This time, the outcome was similar with the higher quality audio listers rating the research more highly, the researcher as more competent and the radio interview as better than those listening to a low quality audio recording.
In addition, and very important for business users, was the finding that high quality audio listeners were more likely to share the interview on social media. If this can be translated to a business interaction, this potentially means that calls in high quality audio mean participants are more likely to act on the call and take away a positive impression.
“We’ve known for years that high quality audio is not just a ‘nice-to-have’ – it really does affect people’s perception of you and your company,” says Andrew Low, Global Marketing Manager, Integrated Systems, Shure.
“However, while we also expected the research to uncover the fact that people find it easier to listen to and get more from high quality audio interactions, we were surprised to find that high quality audio makes people actually like you more and can even encourage people to react more favourably to your communications”