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Localization of a Source of Sound in a Room

The acoustical cues used by a human listener to localize a source of sound are greatly modified by reflections from the surfaces of a room. As a result, localization in a room requires the auditory system to use data selection processes that discount or otherwise reweight acoustical information. The precedence effect is an example in which transient information is given much higher weight than steady-state information. Other reweighting processes apply when there is no transient information. This paper reviews the data that are available from psychoacoustical experiments, where quite a lot is known for a rather limited set of stimuli and conditions. It is argued that one cannot understand all of the data except by a flexible model of localization, with processing that can be adapted to the signal and experimental conditions. The data argue against hard-wired models of localization and of the precedence effect. They argue in favor of more central processes based upon plausibility of localization cues.

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