Do You See/Hear What I Do?

The other day I was talking to someone about how it's hard to discern what good sound is for different people. I said that his 28 year old eardrums are likely in better condition than my much abused 48 year old ears and that likely we aren't hearing the same frequencies when we listen to music. 

I'd bought a new pair of headphones that had been reviewed well, but I found them to be too prominent in the higher frequencies and not round enough in the lower ones. These were being compared to another pair of headphones that were nice and round at the bottom, but lacking a bit in detail. After a couple of weeks of using the new pair, they sounded great. I'd attributed this to them possibly being "burned in" but when I went to listen to the older pair that sounded great before, now they sounded like they had way too much low end. 

Clear © 2012 Skip hunt + from the LithoFusion Collection

What I'm guessing is that my brain simply re-calibrated it's perception mechanisms to now favor the new headphones instead. That added another factor to consider to how the world's input is being perceived on an individual basis, regarding not only the condition of your own personal physical biology, but how your brain is processing the data. 

Later, I was carrying over that idea to color and how different people have varying degrees of eye-sight sensitivity and wondered if "Red" looks the same to me as it does to most people. Or, what color-blind people see when they look at my vivid color images that I carefully composed based on specific color combination. 

Some viewers of my photographic work simply love the rich and vivid color palettes, while others feel they're way over-saturated to the point of being distracting. At first, I wondered if they were not seeing the same thing that I am due to differences in computer monitor quality and settings. I've looked at my work on other's computer screens and it rarely looks exactly like what I see on my own devices, so electronic quality differences is certainly a factor in how an image is perceived.

When all the varying factors are considered, ie. electronic viewing and hearing devices, age and general physical health of human perception mechanisms, and then toss in how each individual has a different set of learned systems that dictate how the gathered perceptive data is processed… 

I wonder how anyone can truly know if what they are seeing, hearing, tasting, and feeling is anywhere close to what anyone else is perceiving?  

~ Skip Hunt