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Audibility of a CD-Standard A/DA/A Loop Inserted into High-Resolution Audio Playback - September 2007
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Reflecting on Reflections - June 2014
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Quiet Thoughts on a Deafening Problem - May 2014
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Consistency of High Frequency Preference Among Expert Listeners

Consistency is one of the most fundamental skills of the recording professional. This is particularly important in tasks that involve the shaping of timbre. A study was designed that allows expert listeners to control a simple shelving equalizer that alters the high-frequency content of high-quality stereo program material over repeated trials. Fifteen trained subjects performed the test. Results indicate that there was an expectedly large range of preference for high frequency content. This was, however, also accompanied by a somewhat large variance. Unlike previous studies, consistency of high frequency preference was shown to be less related to the subjects' experience than other balancing tasks.

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Subjective Evaluation of High Resolution Recordings in PCM and DSD Audio Formats

High-resolution audio production and consumption are increasing attraction supported by releases of the relatively affordable audio recorders from multiple manufacturers and broader bandwidth of the Internet. However, differences in audio quality between high-resolution audio formats are still not well known, especially between the different audio formats available for the audio recorders. In order to evaluate the differences between subjective impression of the sounds recorded using high resolution audio formats, three audio formats—PCM (192 kHz/24 bits), DSD (2.8 MHz), and DSD (5.6 MHz)—recorded with multiple studio-quality audio recorders were evaluated in a double-blind A/B comparison listening test. Six sound programs evaluated by forty-six participants on eight attributes revealed statistically significant differences between PCM and DSD but not between the two sampling frequencies (2.8 MHz and 5.6 MHz) of DSD.

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The Acceptability of Speech with Interfering Radio Program Material

A listening test was conducted to investigate the acceptability of audio-on-audio interference for radio programs featuring speech as the target. Twenty-one subjects, including naïve and expert listeners, were presented with 200 randomly assigned pairs of stimuli and asked to report, for each trial, whether the listening scenario was acceptable or unacceptable. Stimuli pairs were set to randomly selected SNRs ranging from 0 to 45 dB. Results showed no significant difference between subjects according to listening experience. A logistic regression to acceptability was carried out based on SNR. The model had accuracy R2 = 0.87, RMSE = 14%, and RMSE* = 7%. By accounting for the presence of background audio in the target program, 90% of the variance could be explained.

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The Effect of Dynamic Range Compression on Loudness and Quality Perception in Relation to Crest Factor

Two listening tests were carried out to find the changes in perceived loudness and perceived quality as the crest factors were changed for three genres (rock, electronic, and jazz) as a result of limiting, a type of dynamic range compression. The stimuli ranged from crest factors of 15 dBFS to 9 dBFS with a 1 dBFS increment. Loudness and quality had significant differences between the crest factors suggesting that a change in crest factor affects both. Correlations between loudness and quality were present for rock and jazz however not for electronic suggesting that genres can affect how we perceive quality.

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Hyper-Compression in Music Production: Listener Preferences on Dynamic Range Reduction

Achieving “loud” recordings as a result of hyper-compression is a prevailing expectation within the creative system of music production, sustaining a myth that has been developing since the mid-twentieth century as a consequence of the “louder is better” paradigm. The study reported here investigated whether the amounts of hyper-compression typical of current audio practice produce results that listeners prefer. The experimental approach taken in this study was to conduct a subjective preference test requiring listeners to make a forced choice between seven levels of compression for each of five musical programs that differed in musical genre. The presented seven versions of each musical program were carefully matched in loudness as the versions were varied in compression level, and so differences in loudness per se cannot account for the differences in preferences choices observed between musical programs. In addition, it was found that subject factors such as age group, and speculatively the amount of exposure to different genres, were of considerable influence on listener preferences.

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An Approach to Quantifying the Latency Tolerance Range in Non-Collaborative Musical Performances

Latency is a well-known issue in collaborative music performances over networks such as the Internet. The effects of latency in performances over networks has been researched for the last decade, however, relatively few researches deal with the question of how musicians cope with their own latency in non-collaborative performances (performing music solo). This paper introduces the new concept of Latency Tolerance Range (LTR) and describes a methodological approach in order to develop a listening test, the results of which may demonstrate the influence of the musicians’ performed instruments (chordophones, aerophones, and membranophones) on latency perception.

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Emotional Impact of Different Forms of Spatialization in Everyday Mediatized Music Listening: Placebo or Technology Effects?

Do the spatial cues conveyed by different audio playback technologies alter the affective experience of music listening or is this rather a matter of quality expectations leading to “placebo effects”? To find out, we conducted a 2-factorial between-subjects design study employing “spatialization type” (stereo headphones / stereo loudspeakers / live concert simulation) and “spatial quality expectations” (yes / no) as independent experimental factors. Three-hundred-six subjects rated the perceived intensity of emotional expression when listening to four different musical pieces as well as the overall audio quality. While we observed significant effects of spatialization type on perceived affective expressivity of music and spatial audio quality, expectation-related placebo effects affected perceived spatial audio quality only. Results are discussed in terms of their significance for music and media research.

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Data-Driven Modeling of the Spatial Sound Experience

Since the evaluation of audio systems or processing schemes is time-consuming and resource-expensive, alternative objective evaluation methods attracted considerable research interests. However, current perceptual models are not yet capable of replacing a human listener especially when the test stimulus is complex, for example, a sound scene consisting of time-varying multiple acoustic images. This paper describes a data-driven approach to develop a model to predict the subjective evaluation of complex acoustic scenes, where the extensive set of listening test results collected in the latest MPEG-H 3-D audio initiative was used as training data. The results showed that a few selected outputs of various auditory models may be a useful set of features, where linear regression and multilayer perceptron models reasonably predicted the overall distribution of listening test scores, estimating both mean and variance.

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Investigation into Vertical Stereophonic Localization in the Presence of Interchannel Crosstalk

Listening tests were carried out on 12 subjects, using stereophonic loudspeakers arranged vertically in the median plane, to determine the threshold at which the amplitude of a delayed upper loudspeaker had to be reduced in order for stimuli to be fully localized at a lower loudspeaker. The test stimuli used were seven octave bands of noise (125, 250, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 Hz) and one broadband source (125 ¬ 8000 Hz). The effect of frequency on the threshold was found to be significant (with the 1000 and 2000 Hz bands having the lowest thresholds) while the effect of delay time was non-significant. The threshold for the broadband stimulus was found to be significantly lower compared to each of the noise bands.

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The Perceptual Effects of Horizontal and Vertical Interchannel Decorrelation Using the Lauridsen Decorrelator

The perceptual effects of interchannel decorrelation, using a method proposed by Lauridsen, have been investigated subjectively, looking specifically at the frequency dependency of decorrelation. Twelve subjects graded the perceived auditory image width of a pink noise sample that had been decorrelated by a Lauridsen decorrelator algorithm, varying the frequency-band, time-delay, and decorrelation factor for each sample. The same test has been carried out in both the horizontal and vertical planes. Results generally indicate that decorrelation is more effective horizontally than vertically. For horizontal decorrelation, the higher the frequency, the more effective the decorrelation, with a longer time-delay required for lower frequencies. In contrast, the vertical width produced by vertical decorrelation is better perceived at lower frequencies than higher ones.

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