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Plausibility of Parametric Spatial Audio Reproduction of B-format Room Impulse Responses over Headphones

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The perceived impression of an acoustical environment provides context, perspective and continuity to a reproduced auditory scene, giving cues to the apparent source distance, the scene width and depth, and envelopment. In many creative applications, the role of ’reverb’ serves to set the scene in a way that is plausibly congruent, without disrupting the impression. The Binaural EBU ADM Renderer (BEAR; European Broadcast Union; Audio Definition Model) delivers spatial audio over headphones using object-based principles, where each sound element carries spatial metadata. The BEAR codebase was extended to encode and render an impression of room acoustics via the Reverberant Spatial Audio Object (RSAO). B-format room impulse responses (RIRs) across a diverse set of typical rooms were encoded into RSAO parameters for rendering with sources and comparison with corresponding binaural measurements (BRIRs). A web-based listening test was designed for participants to rate the perceptual similarity using a multiple stimulus rating interface. The binaural stimuli compared the RSAO rendering of the target room, the BRIRs as hidden reference, and renderings for the rooms deemed most and least similar to the target room in a pilot test. The results identify significant trends and statistical tests determine whether the RSAO-encoded rooms were perceived as plausible renditions in terms of similarity. Future work would explore the performance of this approach in interactive audio-visual applications.

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