Recent technological advances have driven changes in how media is consumed in home, automotive, and mobile contexts. Multichannel audio home cinema systems are not ubiquitous but have become more prevalent. The consumption of broadcast and gaming content on smart-phone and tablet technology via telecommunications networks is also more common. This has created new possibilities and consequently poses new challenges for audio content delivery such as how media can be optimized for multiple contexts while minimizing file size. For example, a stereo audio file may be adequate for consumption in a mobile context using headphones, but it is limited to stereo presentation in the context of a surround-sound home entertainment system. Another factor is the variability of telecommunications network bandwidths. Object-based audio may offer a solution to this problem by providing audio content on an object level with metadata that controls how the media is delivered depending on the consumption paradigm. In this context, insight into the relative importance of different sounds in the auditory scene will be useful in forming content delivery strategies. This paper presents the results of a listening test investigating categorization of isolated sounds on a Background (BG) — Neutral (N) — Foreground (FG) scale. A continuum of importance was observed among the sounds tested and this shows promise for application in object-based audio delivery.
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