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Perceptual Evaluation and Analysis of Reverberation in Multitrack Music Production

Despite the prominence of artificial reverberation in music production, there are few studies that explore the conventional usage and the resulting perception in the context of a mixing studio. Research into the use of artificial reverberation is difficult because of the lack of standardized parameters, inconsistent interfaces, and a diverse group of algorithms. In multistimuli listening tests, trained engineers were asked to rate 80 mixes that were generated from 10 professional-grade music recordings. Annotated subjective comments were also analyzed to determine the importance of reverberation in the perception of mixes, as well as classifying mixes as having too much or too little overall reverberation. The results support the notion that a universally preferred amount of reverberation is unlikely to exist, but the upper and lower bounds can be identified. The importance of careful parameter adjustment is evident from the limited range of acceptable feature values with regard to the perceived amount of reverberation relative to the just-noticeable differences in both reverberation loudness and early decay time. This study confirms previous findings that a perceived excess of reverberation typically has a detrimental effect on subjective preference. The ability to predict the desired amount of reverberation with a reasonable degree of accuracy has applications in automatic mixing and intelligent audio effects.

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JAES Volume 65 Issue 1/2 pp. 108-116; January 2017
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