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Influence of head tracking on the externalization of speech stimuli for non-individualized binaural synthesis

Abstract : Binaural reproduction aims at recreating a realistic audio scene at the ears of the listener using headphones. In the real acoustic world, sound sources tend to be externalized (that is perceived to be emanating from a source out in the world) rather than internalized (that is perceived to be emanating from inside the head). Unfortunately, several studies report a collapse of externalization, especially with frontal and rear virtual sources, when listening to binaural content using non-individualized Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs). The present study examines whether or not head movements coupled with a head tracking device can compensate for this collapse. For each presentation, a speech stimulus was presented over headphones at different azimuths, using several intermixed sets of non-individualized HRTFs for the binaural rendering. The head tracker could either be active or inactive, and the subjects could either be asked to rotate their heads or to keep them as stationary as possible. After each presentation, subjects reported to what extent the stimulus had been externalized. In contrast to several previous studies, results showed that head movements can substantially enhance externalization, especially for frontal and rear sources, and that externalization can persist once the subject has stopped moving his/her head.
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Etienne Hendrickx, Peter Stitt, Jean-Christophe Messonnier, Jean-Marc Lyzwa, Brian F G Katz, et al.. Influence of head tracking on the externalization of speech stimuli for non-individualized binaural synthesis. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, Acoustical Society of America, 2017, 141 (3), pp.2011-2023. ⟨10.1121/1.4978612⟩. ⟨hal-01525838⟩

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