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A new approach to predicting listener's preference based on acoustical parameters

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Since its conception, the study of room acoustics has explored the links between acoustical parameters and subjective preference. While there have been attempts to combine such metrics, e.g. Frick’s combination of six acoustical parameters to predict ‘acoustic quality’, no reliable method for prediction of listeners’ preference has been univocally ascertained1 or included in any ISO standard2. In this study an alternative perspective is presented - to derive a simple descriptor, ‘Preference Rating’ (PR), through meta-analysis of metric-preference relationships, within the context of Rock and Pop venues. A statistical approach has been taken to determine the relative importance of a chosen set of factors in the form of mathematical weights. Results of this pilot study indicate that preference may be predicted by using eight acoustical parameters: Reverberation Time (RT), Bass Ratio (BR), Tonality (TN), Definition (D50), Early Decay Time (EDT), Bonello Distribution (MD), Background Noise and Surface Diffusivity Index (SDI). Quantitative data and subjective evaluation data describing 20 venues (provided by Dr. Adelman-Larsen3) were used to validate this new approach and showed strong correlation in 85% of the scenarios. This suggests that the rationale behind the presented method is meaningful and can be used to set a base upon which further testing and development can be conducted to improve the reliability of such empirical approach.

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