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Influence of the Quality of Consumer Headphones in the Perception of Spatial Audio

Institute of Telecommunications and Multimedia Applications (ITEAM), Universitat Politècnica de València, Valencia 46022, Spain
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Academic Editor: Vesa Valimaki
Appl. Sci. 2016, 6(4), 117; https://doi.org/10.3390/app6040117
Received: 29 February 2016 / Revised: 4 April 2016 / Accepted: 12 April 2016 / Published: 22 April 2016
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Audio Signal Processing)
High quality headphones can generate a realistic sound immersion reproducing binaural recordings. However, most people commonly use consumer headphones of inferior quality, as the ones provided with smartphones or music players. Factors, such as weak frequency response, distortion and the sensitivity disparity between the left and right transducers could be some of the degrading factors. In this work, we are studying how these factors affect spatial perception. To this purpose, a series or perceptual tests have been carried out with a virtual headphone listening test methodology. The first experiment focuses on the analysis of how the disparity of sensitivity between the two transducers affects the final result. The second test studies the influence of the frequency response relating quality and spatial impression. The third test analyzes the effects of distortion using a Volterra kernels scheme for the simulation of the distortion using convolutions. Finally, the fourth tries to relate the quality of the frequency response with the accuracy on azimuth localization. The conclusions of the experiments are: the disparity between both transducers can affect the localization of the source; the perception of quality and spatial impression has a high correlation; the distortion produced by the range of headphones tested at a fixed level does not affect the perception of binaural sound; and that some frequency bands have an important role in the front-back confusions. View Full-Text
Keywords: headphones; spatial sound; quality; perception; binaural; subjective test; distortion; frequency response; front-back confusion headphones; spatial sound; quality; perception; binaural; subjective test; distortion; frequency response; front-back confusion
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Gutierrez-Parera, P.; Lopez, J.J. Influence of the Quality of Consumer Headphones in the Perception of Spatial Audio. Appl. Sci. 2016, 6, 117.

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