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Windowed Sine Bursts: In Search of Optimal Test Signals for Detecting the Threshold of Audibility of Temporal Decays

A slow decay in an audio signal is perceived as ringing and is commonly caused by room modes. This affects the perception of intelligibility, clarity, definition, and spatial rendering. A method has previously been devised to find the threshold of audibility of the decay in low-frequency narrow-band signals. One of the test signals in the large-scale listening test will be a low-frequency sine burst, but spectral spreading at the start and end of the test signal acts as an additional non-modal cue. This effect is removed by windowing, for example a half Hann. The aim of this paper is to determine the window length required (threshold) to render the end of the test signal free from audible spectral spreading. The Parameter Estimation by Sequential Testing (PEST) method and calibrated headphones (to remove factors associated with the listening environment) are used in subjective listening tests. The window length threshold is found to be constant above 200 Hz but rises exponentially towards low frequencies, and is replay level dependent. Threshold may be related to the absolute threshold of hearing, masking curves and/or auditory filter bandwidth.

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