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)


  1. After playing with it for a bit, I think HK is going to have to provide their own source material. It's very easy to pick material that masks certain things (like the white noise), or pick quiet tracks that make the noise stand out - I'm using some tracks that start off silent; I can easily chase the hum or noise in the quiet part, but once the track kicks in to full range it is much harder to find. Or to pick tracks that are mastered at different levels making the multi track tests skewed.

    I suppose some of my quibbles depend on your goals. Are to trying to "get a high score" and prove how good (or bad) your listening skills are? Or are you trying to make users aware of all these different things that affect sound (Yes, a quiet passage does make it easier to detect noise. Yes, earbuds can't produce sound below 100Hz so you can't hear the EQ changes there).

  2. For Windows Vista/7 Users:
    Some useful feedback and a workaround until we fix this issue in the next build.

    "..People running Vista and Windows 7 are having problems getting the program to work.

    One problem is that it prompts the user for WAV files, then apparently does a copy and rename, placing them into the "programs" subdirectory of Harman International\How To Listen. This is a no-no under Vista and Windows 7. Microsoft has protected the Program Files and Program Files (x86) directories and their subdirectories in Vista and Windows 7 so that only programs running with administrator privileges can do such writes.

    The workaround I use is to create a directory under the root called something like "Old Programs", then install each such misbehaving program into its own subdirectory under that. A user-created directory such as "Old Programs" does not have the protection that Program Files and Program Files (x86) do, making it okay for a program installed under "Old Programs" to write files to its install directory or a subdirectory of that. This worked for me, and also a user on another forum who had the same problem.

    This is a kluge though. The correct solution is to put these files in the user's AppData folder. When this is done, each Windows user has their own unique AppData folder assigned to them at login time, making the program's self-contained multiple-user login feature (which has the password bug as has been noted elsewhere) redundant. This solution should work under XP, Vista and Windows 7. "

  3. Thank You! Your work is greatly appreciated.

  4. I can't download the .dmg file from Google Docs. Could you upload it elsewhere?

    1. Download things from Google can be a bit confusing. Look for a 'file' menu in the top left corner of browser window. Click on that and from there you'll see a menu item to download.

  5. Had them running just recently. It works for me nicely.
    click here

  6. Wow, what a wonderful application. Until now I was quite sure that my audio skills were nothing but very,very,very good. But I've just discovered how easily I can be confused by a simple set of 12 filters with a -6db dips. Gotta keep practicing until I learn How to listen.
    Thanks for sharing, Keep on the good job.
    Best Regards
    Alvaro H Romero

  7. Oh.. Please can I get download window version of it. the link doesn't works.
    and I've serched it on google but I can't find it. it's my mail.

  8. I want to know if I can buy those tracks (wav format) or any format different from mp3. Is it possible?

    Thank you,

  9. Listening program is a unique therapy of brain. It helps in improving your performance in work and life.

  10. Thank you for the info. It sounds pretty user friendly. I guess I’ll pick one up for fun. thank u

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  11. Thank you Harman for this software and Mr Toole, Mr Olive and the rest of the team for all your research work.


    You have good insight on the issue, i have bookmarked your site. I have to show my friend this.

  13. You know what would be amazing? This as an app for android and iphone. Train on the go!

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