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Evaluation of a New Active Acoustics System in Music Performance of String Quartets

A new active acoustics enhancement system was developed that utilizes measured room impulse responses to generate virtual sound field in a performance space. Three acoustical conditions were prepared to represent distinct room acoustics characteristics including reverb time, clarity, stage support, early lateral energy and inter-aural cross correlation coefficient. Eleven professional string quartets were invited for subjective evaluations where they responded to surveys after performing in each acoustic condition. The results showed a strong preference for the enhanced acoustic conditions over the inherent acoustics of the space. Factor analysis revealed three primary underlying perceptual dimensions: stage support parameters, spatial impressions and tonal balance. Moreover, ‘Quality of reverberation,’ ‘Amount of reverberation,’ ‘Hearing other musicians’ and ‘Height sensation’ were the four salient attributes that were highly correlated with musicians’ preferences.

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