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Modeling Auditory Localization of Subwoofer Signals in Multi-Channel Loudspeaker Arrays

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For economical reasons home entertainment surround sound systems are usually equipped with a single subwoofer channel. The main argument for this procedure is the believed inability of the auditory system to localize low frequencies in small reverberant rooms. However a psychoacoustic localization test that was conducted using a standard 5-channel set-up with subwoofers showed that the listeners were able to determine the lateral displacement left center or right of the loudspeaker presenting the test stimulus (an octave-band noise burst at 31.5-Hz, 63-Hz or 125-Hz center frequency). Using a binaural model simulating human perception recordings of subwoofers signals at different positions were analyzed. As expected the interaural level differences remained nearly constant for different subwoofer positions in the low frequency range. On basis of interaural time differences however the model was able to predict the position of the loudspeaker regarding the left/right dimension verifying the outcome of the listening test. The results indicate the importance to consider more than one subwoofer in multi-channel audio systems.

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