Relative auditory distance discrimination with virtual nearby sound sources

Simone Spagnol; Erica Tavazzi; Federico Avanzini
DAFx-2015 - Trondheim
In this paper a psychophysical experiment targeted at exploring relative distance discrimination thresholds with binaurally rendered virtual sound sources in the near field is described. Pairs of virtual sources are spatialized around 6 different spatial locations (2 directions ×3 reference distances) through a set of generic far-field Head-Related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) coupled with a nearfield correction model proposed in the literature, known as DVF (Distance Variation Function). Individual discrimination thresholds for each spatial location and for each of the two orders of presentation of stimuli (approaching or receding) are calculated on 20 subjects through an adaptive procedure. Results show that thresholds are higher than those reported in the literature for real sound sources, and that approaching and receding stimuli behave differently. In particular, when the virtual source is close (< 25 cm) thresholds for the approaching condition are significantly lower compared to thresholds for the receding condition, while the opposite behaviour appears for greater distances (≈ 1 m). We hypothesize such an asymmetric bias to be due to variations in the absolute stimulus level.