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The Effect of Room Acoustics on MP3 Audio Quality Evaluation

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The impact of using loudspeaker versus headphone playback on the subjective quality of compressed audio is investigated. It is shown that reverberation and to a lesser extent cross-talk, which both are introduced naturally in loudspeaker playback, can effectively hide coding artifacts. In double blind listening tests subjects had to rate MP3 coded excerpts at various bit-rates. The excerpts were played back over headphones. Reverberation and cross-talk were introduced artificially to simulate loudspeaker playback, so that their impact could be assessed separately. Results show that quality scores of the reverberated excerpts were significantly higher than for the corresponding 'dry' excerpts for 64 kb/s bit-rate while these differences diminished with increasing bit-rate. This indicates that coding artifacts can become less audible in reverberant listening conditions.

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