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Evaluation of a New Active Acoustics System in Performances of Five String Quartets

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An innovative electro-acoustic enhancement system, based on measured high-resolution impulse responses, was developed at the Virtual Acoustics Technology (VAT) lab of McGill University and was permanently installed in Multi-Media Room, a large rectangular scoring stage. Standard acoustic measures confirmed that the system was able to effectively improve room acoustic conditions in both spectral and spatial parameters. Subjective evaluation was conducted with twenty professional musicians from five string quartets on three different acoustic conditions. Spatial impression, stage support and tonal quality were found to be three most dominant perceptual dimensions, while ‘naturalism of reverberation’ was the most salient attribute affecting musicians’ preferences. Results showed a strong preference for enhanced acoustics over natural acoustics of the space.

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