A study of the effects of interaural crosstalk on normal spaced-speaker stereo listening environments is presented. Interaural crosstalk detrimentally affects both imaging and frequency response. Imaging is affected by restriction of the sound stage to between the speakers and by the loss of realism and preciseness of the sonic images. Interaural crosstalk also creates very severe comb filtering in the frequency response of the direct sound field in which the listener's ears are placed. Furthermore, the amplitude and frequency characteristics of the response comb filtering are found to depend heavily on the positions of the panned images, and are at their worst for a centered image. The interaural crosstalk signal can be thought of as a high level early reflection coming from the direction of the opposite speaker, but whose timing and amplitude depend on the signal in the opposite channel. Current studio monitoring design techniques tend to accentuate the problems of interaural crosstalk. Preliminary psychoacoustic test results of a simple method to minimize the effects of interaural crosstalk in a nearfield stereo/binaural loudspeaker monitoring setup are described. The results show accurate horizontal imaging and localization over a 120° frontal angle for both intensity-difference and delay-difference stereo program material. The method depends on the use of a flat vertical boundary erected between two front-positioned, side-by-side nearfield monitor loudspeakers. The listener is situated facing the monitors with his/her ears on opposite sides of the boundary. Advantages include: independent control of amplitude, phase, and delay at each ear; solid frontal out-of-head imaging for side-to-side head shifts and head rotations; extremely good center image; creation of realistic lateral beyond-the-speaker acoustic images; minimization of crosstalk frequency-response comb-filtering effects; and excellent results with both stereo and binaural program material.
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