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Investigation of Effect of VR/AR Headgear on Head Related Transfer Functions for Natural Listening

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With the advent of Virtual/Augmented/Mixed Reality (VR/AR/MR) applications and accompanied head-mounted displays (HMDs), these devices are becoming increasingly common in daily life use producing immersive virtual and augmented audio-visual content. However, the presence of these HMDs alters the acoustic propagation of the sound waves from the sound sources to the human ears, resulting in changes in head-related transfer functions (HRTFs). In this paper we conducted measurements of HRTFs with and without these HMDs and investigated the effect of these headgears on HRTFs at different source directions using objective metrics. Noticeable changes in HRTF magnitude spectrum were observed in 1–16 kHz frequency range. Spectral difference (SD) was higher in the contralateral ear than ipsilateral ear. HMDs with large display visor incurred significantly larger SD and ILD errors at –60° and –120° above 1 kHz, whereas glass visor resulted in reflections leading to multiple peaks in mid frequency range of 3–7 kHz at –120°. Subjective listening tests for spatial and timbre quality validated the objective results.

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