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Auditory Adaptation to Loudspeakers and Listening Room Acoustics

Timbral qualities of loudspeakers and rooms are often compared in listening tests involving short listening periods. Outside the laboratory, listening occurs over a longer time course. In a study by Olive et al. (1995) smaller timbral differences between loudspeakers and between rooms were reported when comparisons were made over shorter versus longer time periods. This is a form of timbral adaptation, a decrease in sensitivity to timbre over time. The current study confirms this adaptation and establishes that it is not due to response bias but may be due to timbral memory, specific mechanisms compensating for transmission channel acoustics, or attentional factors. Modifications to listening tests may be required where tests need to be representative of listening outside of the laboratory.

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