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Relevance of Headphone Characteristics in Binaural Listening Experiments: A Case Study

Listening experiments typically target performance and capabilities of the auditory system. Another common application scenario is the perceptual validation of algorithms and technical systems. In both cases, systems other than the device or subject under test must not affect the results in an uncontrolled manner. Binaural listening experiments require that two signals with predefined amplitude or phase differences stimulate the left and right ear, respectively. Headphone playback is a common method for presenting the signals. This study quantifies potential headphone-induced interaural differences by physical measurements on selected circum-aural headphones and by comparison to psychoacoustic data. The results indicate that perceptually relevant effects may occur, in binaural listening experiments, traditional binaural headphone listening, and virtual acoustics rendering such as binaural synthesis.

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AES - Audio Engineering Society