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Identification and Discrimination of Listener Envelopment Percepts Associated with Multiple Low-Frequency Signals in Multichannel Sound Reproduction

This investigation addressed two primary questions relating to the use of subwoofers in reverberant reproduction environments, the first being whether listeners are able to discriminate between the auditory images resulting from correlated and decorrelated low-frequency signals, and the second being whether decorrelation between drivers produced identifiably greater listener envelopment. For the experiments reported in this paper, octave-band noise samples with center frequencies ranging in third-octave steps from 31.5Hz to 125Hz were presented via a multichannel loudspeaker array. These low-frequency signals could be either perfectly correlated (drivers receiving identical signals) or maximally decorrelated between selected pairs of five loudspeakers positioned according to the ITU standard configuration. Even in a small and highly reverberant listening room, decorrelated signals with center frequencies greater than 50Hz were both discriminably and identifiably different from correlated signals, but only when such low-frequency signals were reproduced via the left and right surround channel drivers.

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