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Perceptual Evaluation of Individualized Binaural Reproduction Using a Virtual Artificial Head

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In binaural recordings, spatial information can be captured by using an artificial head that emulates a real human head having average anthropometric geometries and with ear microphones. Because artificial heads are generic without the individual characteristics of the actual listener, recordings often produce perceptual deficiencies such as front-back confusion and internalized source images. Alternatively, individually measured head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) can be approximately synthesized using a microphone array in conjunction with a filter-and-sum beamformer, called a virtual artificial head (VAH). This approach allows for the possibility of adapting a recording to an individual’s HRTF in the recording studio by an appropriate modification of the directivity pattern of the VAH. In this study, binaural reproductions using the VAH, two traditional artificial heads, and individual HRTFs were perceptually evaluated in the horizontal plane with respect to the original free-field presentation. The results show that individual HRTFs in conjunction with individually equalized headphone transfer function result in the best subjective appraisals. The ratings obtained for the VAH-setup indicate a high level of acceptance among the subjects. Mean ratings were often good to excellent.

JAES Volume 65 Issue 6 pp. 448-459; June 2017
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AES - Audio Engineering Society