Work is presented on the representation and perceptual importance of phase. Based on a standard sinusoidal analysis/synthesis system, the phase alignment of the sound components is analyzed. A novel phase representation, partial-period phase, is introduced, which characterizes phase evolution over time with an almost stationary parameter for many musical sounds. The proposed partial-period phase representation is used to control the phase when synthesizing sounds. Sounds synthesized with varying amounts of phase information are compared in a listening experiment with 11 subjects. It is shown that phase is of great importance to the perception of the sound quality of common harmonic musical sounds, but indications are found that phase is not of importance to the slightly inharmonic piano sounds. In particular, the sound degradation is large for low-pitched sounds, approaching "slightly annoying" when no phase information is used. In addition, a model based on the partialperiod phase representation has a significantly better perceived sound quality than sounds with random phase shifts.
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