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Auditory Spatial Impression

The auditory event perceived by a human is not only determined by the sound signal emitted by the source, but also by a variety of environmental parameters. These parameters include not only characteristics of the sound source such as directivity, position, and orientation, but also the physical parameters of the room, namely geometrical and acoustical properties of surrounding surfaces. Whereas the characteristics of the sound source mainly affect perceptive attributes such as localization and timbre, the later properties cause perceptive effects often referred to as -spatial impression.- Auditory spatial impression can be defined as the concept of the type and size of an actual or simulated space at which a listener arrives spontaneously, when he/she is exposed to an appropriate sound field. Two main perceptive attributes of the auditive event contributing to the spatial impression can be identified. These are reverberance and auditory spaciousness.: In the presentation, some psychoacoustical fundamentals of listening in reflective environments aredescribed. An attempt is made to define the terms introduced above in a consistent manner. Some examples of physical properties of the sound field that influence these perceptive attributes are given and the effect of room reflections on distance perception is discussed.: A computer model for the simulation of listening in spaces is introduced. These kinds of computer models can serve as flexible tools for psychoacoustical experiments, since the acoustical environment can be controlled completely, is highly reproducible, and can be varied in a systematic manner. Results of some early psychoacoustical studies with this system are presented by comparing subjective simulations to real-room measurements. An attempt is made to identify physical properties of the environment that show an influence on auditory spatial impression.

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