Can externalizing dialogue when in the presence of stereo background noise improve speech intelligibility? This has been investigated for audio over headphones using head-tracking in order to explore potential future developments for small-screen devices. A quantitative listening experiment tasked participants with identifying target words in spoken sentences played in the presence of background noise via headphones. Sixteen different combinations of 3 independent variables were tested: speech and noise locations (internalized/externalized), video (on/off), and masking noise (stationary/fluctuating noise). The results revealed that the best improvements to speech intelligibility were generated by both the video-on condition and externalizing speech at the screen while retaining masking noise in the stereo mix.
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