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Auralization-An Overview

This paper is intended as an introduction to the field of auralization and the papers of the special session on auralization at the 91st Audio Engineering Society convention. Auralization is a word used in analogy with visualization, to describe the aural creation of environments (by computer). It can also be thought of as true acoustical computer aided design. Together with new hardware implementations of convolution signal processing, auralization forms the basis of a powerful new technology for room simulation and aural event generation. The history, some trends, problems, and possibilities of auralization are described. The discussion primarily deals with simulating auditorium acoustics and loudspeaker installations. The advantages and disadvantages of various approaches are discussed, as are possible testing and verification techniques. Demonstrations of the qualities of auralization have been made, yet the verification of the technology's ability to accurately reproduce the subjective impression of the sound is lacking. This limits the credibility of auralization as a design tool, and is the foremost problem to be attacked at this time. The verification problem also applies to the basic room impulse prediction programs. The combination of auralization with transaural reproduction and active noise control, should make it possible to expand its use beyond the laboratory and beyond simple headphone reproduction. A large number of interesting applications outside room and psycho-acoustics research are conceivable, the most interesting of which are probably its use in various training and sales situations and in virtual reality systems.

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