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Impact of non-individualised head related transfer functions on speech-in-noise performances within a synthesised virtual environment

Research Area: Year: 2021
Type of Publication: Article Keywords: Speech recognition, HRTF, Binaural, Speech perception
Authors: Cuevas-Rodríguez, María; González Toledo, Daniel; Reyes-Lecuona, Arcadio; Picinali, Lorenzo
Journal: The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America Volume: 149
Number: 4 Pages: 2573-2586
Month: April
ISSN: 0001-4966
When performing binaural spatialisation, it is widely accepted that the choice of the head related transfer functions (HRTFs), and in particular the use of individually measured ones, can have an impact on localisation accuracy, externalization, and overall realism. Yet the impact of HRTF choices on speech-in-noise performances in cocktail party-like scenarios has not been investigated in depth. This paper introduces a study where 22 participants were presented with a frontal speech target and two lateral maskers, spatialised using a set of non-individual HRTFs. Speech reception threshold (SRT) was measured for each HRTF. Furthermore, using the SRT predicted by an existing speech perception model, the measured values were compensated in the attempt to remove overall HRTF-specific benefits. Results show significant overall differences among the SRTs measured using different HRTFs, consistently with the results predicted by the model. Individual differences between participants related to their SRT performances using different HRTFs could also be found, but their significance was reduced after the compensation. The implications of these findings are relevant to several research areas related to spatial hearing and speech perception, suggesting that when testing speech-in-noise performances within binaurally rendered virtual environments, the choice of the HRTF for each individual should be carefully considered.
Full text: 10.0004220.pdf

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