On studying auditory distance perception in concert halls with multichannel auralizations

Antti Kuusinen; Tapio Lokki
DAFx-2015 - Trondheim
Virtual acoustics and auralizations have been previously used to study the perceptual properties of concert hall acoustics in a descriptive profiling framework. The results have indicated that the apparent auditory distance to the orchestra might play a crucial role in enhancing the listening experience and the appraisal of hall acoustics. However, it is unknown how the acoustics of the hall influence auditory distance perception in such large spaces. Here, we present one step towards studying auditory distance perception in concert halls with virtual acoustics. The aims of this investigation were to evaluate the feasibility of the auralizations and the system to study perceived distances as well as to obtain first evidence on the effects of hall acoustics and the source materials to distance perception. Auralizations were made from measured spatial impulse responses in two concert halls at 14 and 22 meter distances from the center of a calibrated loudspeaker orchestra on stage. Anechoic source materials included symphonic music and pink noise as well as signals produced by concatenating random segments of anechoic instrument recordings. Forty naive test subjects were blindfolded before entering the listening room, where they verbally reported distances to sound sources in the auralizations. Despite the large variance in distance judgments between the individuals, the reported distances were on average in the same range as the actual distances. The results show significant main effects of halls, distances and signals, but also some unexpected effects associated with the presentation order of the stimuli.