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Virtual Reality Perspective on Headphone Audio

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This paper addresses the headphone presentation of virtual audio environments and the headphone playback of multichannel recordings. It briefly reviews the role of sound in virtual reality applications, highlighting some shortcomings of the current sound-for-VR products. The implementation cost of the standard head-tracked spatializing algorithm is considered. A look at cost reduction raises the question of cue ranking. The author argues that the basic head-movement deltas -out trump- the other cues. This prompts some reflections on the binaural, transaural and Q-biphonic techniques, as well as on the more recent bifield proposal. Next, the paper presents a new strategy for VR sound. The revised scheme uses a multichannel internal representation of the sound field at the listener's head. Its merits include lower implementation cost when rendering multiple sources and good adaptability to the consumer headphone-surround application. Finally, the importance is emphasized for reserving a 6th channel for height in future multichannel formats, such as the proposed high-quality audio variant of DVD.

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