Clearly audible room acoustical differences may not reveal where you are in a room


A common aim in virtual reality room acoustics simulation is accurate listener position dependent rendering. However, it is unclear whether a mismatch between the acoustics and visual representation of a room influences the experience or is even noticeable. Here, we ask if listeners without any special experience in echolocation are able to identify their position in a room based on the acoustics alone. In a first test, direct comparison between acoustic recordings from the different positions in the room revealed clearly audible differences, which subjects described with various acoustic attributes. The design of the subsequent experiment allows participants to move around and explore the sound within different zones in this room while switching between visual renderings of the zones in a head-mounted display. The results show that identification was only possible in some special cases. In about 74% of all trials, listeners were not able to determine where they were in the room. The results imply that audible position dependent room acoustic rendering in virtual reality may not be noticeable under certain conditions, which highlights the importance of evaluation paradigm choice when assessing virtual acoustics.

The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America