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Real or Illusion? A Comparative Study of Captured Ambiance vs. Artificial Reverberation in Immersive Audio Applications

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Spatial audio researchers and content producers agree that the best source material for immersive audio is provided by the capture of acoustic signals at various elevations in a room. Where music recording is concerned, this technique is generally preferred over signal processing, as it provides a more natural and realistic impression of immersion. The authors’ previous work evaluated the content of rear height channels, which demonstrated that a group of listeners could not discriminate between real room sound and artificial reverberation, and showed no significant preference for either version. The current research investigates whether or not there is a preference for real source ambience over artificially generated reverberation in all four of the height channels (i.e., front and rear elevation) of a 9.1 immersive playback system. Results show some subjects can consistently discriminate between ambiences, but no consistent preference for ambience was observed.

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