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Spaciousness and Envelopment in Musical Acoustics

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Conventional wisdom holds that spaciousness and envelopment are caused by lateral sound energy in rooms, and it is primarily the early arriving lateral energy that is most responsible. However by definition small rooms are not spacious, yet they can be loaded with early lateral reflections. This paper briefly presents the perceptual mechanisms for spaciousness and envelopment. The perceptions are found to be related most commonly to the lateral (diffuse) energy in halls at the ends of notes (the background reverberation) and less often, but importantly, to the properties of the sound field as the notes are held. A measure for spaciousness, called laterial early decay time (LEDT), is suggested. Results of this measure in several halls are given. A good match between the new measure and subjective impressions of the halls is found.

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