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An Assessment of Virtual Surround Sound Systems for Headphone Listening of 5.1 Multichannel Audio

It is now common for broadcast signals to feature 5.1 surround sound. It is also increasingly common that audiences access broadcast content on portable devices using headphones. Binaural techniques can be applied to create a spatially enhanced headphone experience from surround sound content. This paper presents a subjective assessment of the sound quality of 12 state-of-the-art systems for converting 5.1 surround sound to a 2-channel signal for headphone listening. A multiple stimulus test was used with hidden reference and anchors; the reference stimulus was an ITU stereo down-mix. Dynamic binaural synthesis, based on individualized binaural room impulse response measurements and head orientation tracking, was also incorporated into the test. The experimental design and detailed analysis of the results are presented in this paper.

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