APL VIRTUOSO Clinches Top Spot in Binaural Renderer Comparison Study

Posted on 26 Nov 2023 by APL

VIRTUOSO receive the highest ratings in overall preference and fidelity

At the recent Audio Engineering Society Convention held in New York, a timely and intriguing study was presented by Rai Sato, Akira Takeuchi, Hwan Shim, and Sungyoung Kim [1]. Their paper, titled”Quantitative Assessment of Acoustical Attributes and Listener Preferences in Binaural Renderers” compared five distinct binaural rendering systems to evaluate how their acoustic differences impact Overall Preference, Spatial Fidelity, and Timbral Fidelity. The systems assessed included APL VIRTUOSO, NovoNotes 3DX, DearVR Pro, Apple’s binaural renderer, and the Brüel & Kjær 4100D dummy head. Pairwise comparison listening tests involved 28 participants from Korea, Japan, and the United States.

The paper indicates a tendency among listeners to prefer binaural renderers that simulate room acoustics. Although the paper does not specify the renderers in the result plots, special permission from the authors allows us to display the results for VIRTUOSO and the dummy head. As depicted in the plots below, VIRTUOSO received the highest ratings in Overall Preference and Spatial Fidelity across all stimuli. Regarding Timbral Fidelity, VIRTUOSO and the dummy head shared top rankings for two stimuli, while VIRTUOSO closely followed the dummy head as the second-highest for the remaining stimulus.

The significance of room simulation in binaural listening

It’s notable to mention that several studies, such as [2,3], have highlighted the importance of congruence between real and virtual listening environments concerning the perception of externalisation. Externalisation stands as a pinnacle in binaural audio, yet achieving it becomes markedly challenging if the room characteristics portrayed in binaural reproduction do not align with those in the listener’s actual room. This phenomenon is referred to as the “Room Divergence Effect” [2]. For instance, conducting a dummy head recording in a specific position within a concert hall and then listening to that recording through headphones in that exact position may create a highly realistic impression. However, experiencing the same recording in a different setting, like your bedroom, might not evoke the same sense of presence and could even hinder the externalisation of sound.

Therefore, to enrich spatial realism in binaural listening, a “plausible” room simulation becomes an essential criterion, a feature VIRTUOSO prioritises by offering numerous customisable acoustic parameters. However, this doesn’t imply an exact replication of real room acoustics; rather, it emphasises a “plausible” simulation rather than an “authentic” one. You may discover that among the seven room presets available in VIRTUOSO, certain presets enhance externalisation or tonal naturalness better, depending on your room’s acoustics. Yet, fine-tuning the acoustic parameters—such as Ambience, RT60, Distance, Room size, Room damping, and Reverb liveliness—can potentially further elevate your binaural experience.

References

[1] Rai, S., Akira, T., Hwan, S. and Kim, S. (2023) “Quantitative Assessment of Acoustical Attributes and Listener Preferences in Binaural Renderers” AES 155th International Convention, Express Paper 147.

[2] Klein, F., Werner, S. and Mayenfels, T. “Influences of Training on Externalization of Binaural Synthesis in Situations of Room Divergence,” Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, 65(3), pp.17-187 (2017).

[3] Gil-Carvajal, J.C., Cubick, J., Santurette, S. and Dau, T. “Spatial Hearing with Incongruent Visual or Auditory Room Cues,” Scientific Reports, 6, 37342 (2016)

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