In musical perception, a proportion of the reflected sound energy arriving at the ear is not consciously perceived. Investigations by Wettschurek in the 1970s showed the detectability to be dependent on the overall loudness and direction of arrival of reflected sound. The relationship Wettschurek found between reflection detectability, listening level, and direction of arrival correlates well with the subjective progression of spatial response during a musical crescendo: from frontal at pianissimo, through increasing apparent source width, to a fully present room acoustic at forte. “Dynamic spatial responsiveness” was mentioned in some of the earliest psychoacoustics research and recent work indicates that it is a key factor in acoustical preference. This article describes measurements of perception thresholds made using a binaural virtual acoustics system—these show good agreement with Wettschurek’s results. The perception measurements indicate that the subjective effect of reflections varies with overall listening level, even when the reflection level, delay, and direction relative to the direct sound are maintained. Reflections which are perceptually fused with the source may at louder overall listening levels become allocated to the room presence. An algorithm has been developed to visualize dynamic spatial responsiveness—i.e., which aspects of a three-dimensional (3D) Room Impulse Response would be detectable at different dynamic levels—and has been applied to measured concert hall impulse responses.
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