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The Practical Effects of Lateral Energy in Critical Listening Environments

Limited information exists on the practical effects of lateral reflections in small rooms design for high-quality sound reproduction and critical listening. A study is undertaken to determine what affect specular and diffuse lateral reflections have on a trained listener. A task-based methodology is employed in which a highly trained subject is asked to perform a task commonly seen in their daily work. The physical conditions of the listening environment are altered to minimize, maximize and diffuse side-wall reflections. Results correlate the presence of strong lateral energy with an initial reduction of subjects’ ability to complete the task within normal tolerances, but adaptation soon occurs, restoring the subjects to practically normal pace and accuracy.

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