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Threshold of Phase Detection by Hearing

For years, the ability to detect phase distortion in musical signals has been a much debated question. Research has been carried out for the purpose of finding a suitable complex signal whose different frequency components could be changed in phase without altering the amplitude spectrum of the signal. Subjective listening tests have been made on a number of listeners in order to find the threshold of phase detection. the test was carried out with high-fidelity headphones and high-fidelity loudspeakers in a semi-reverberant room. It is proven experimentally that phase detection increases in a reverberant room and when using loudspeakers having poor transfer characteristics. It is demonstrated that the ear prefers the frequency content in the negative pressure transient fronts. This demonstrates the importance of absolute phase, for which reason there should be standardization of phase conditions from sound source to sound reproducer.

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