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Near-field binaural rendering: evaluating the natural channel separation of loudspeakers mounted in a headrest

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This paper investigates the feasibility of binaural rendering using drive units mounted in an automotive headrest without the utilisation of crosstalk cancellation. Binaural audio is being utilised at an increased rate to create spatialised 3D sound experiences, and trends in the automotive industry indicate the desire to mount loudspeakers within vehicle seats for in-car entertainment purposes. When binaural audio is played back over a loudspeaker pair, the effect of crosstalk decreases the listener’s ability to localise the intended positions of the virtual sound sources in the audio signal, leading to the requirement for crosstalk cancellation processing. As a case study, test signals were rendered over loudspeakers mounted in a headrest and measurements of natural channel separation were conducted with a binaural dummy head. Results from these measurements indicate that, in anechoic conditions with no distance between the head and the headrest, there is sufficient natural channel separation for broadband binaural audio reproduction without crosstalk cancellation. The same conditions in a vehicle cabin imply that there is the possibility of band limited binaural reproduction without crosstalk in a reverberant environment. Implications from these findings suggest the possibility of rendering binaural content over headrest mounted loudspeakers without the need for crosstalk cancellation processing.

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