Simplified head shapes, such as spheres and ellipsoids, have often been applied in the research of head-related transfer functions (HRTFs). However, the effects of the missing head-shape features in these simplified head models have not been thoroughly examined. Head shapes are represented using spherical harmonics, which allows the simplification of head shapes to be carried out in a controlled and systematic way. The KEMAR head shape is low-pass filtered to different degrees. The errors in both the head shape and the acoustic pressures introduced by the low-pass filters are studied. Guidelines are presented for examining the tradeoff between head-shape simplification and accuracy of pressure estimation. It is concluded that spherical harmonics above degree 11 may be ignored in the computation of HRTFs below 3 kHz.
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