Preserving spatial perception in rooms using direct-sound driven dynamic range compression

Henrik Gert Hassager, Tobias May, Alan Wiinberg, Torsten Dau

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Fast-acting hearing-aid compression systems typically distort the auditory cues involved in the spatial perception of sounds in rooms by enhancing low-level reverberant energy portions of the sound relative to the direct sound. The present study investigated the benefit of a direct-sound driven compression system that adaptively selects appropriate time constants to preserve the listener’s spatial impression. Specifically, fast-acting compression was maintained for timefrequency
units dominated by the direct sound while the processing of the compressor was linearized for time-frequency units dominated by reverberation. This compression scheme was evaluated with normal-hearing listeners who indicated their perceived location and distribution of sound images in the horizontal plane for virtualized speech. The experimental results confirmed that both independent compression at each ear and linked compression across ears resulted in broader, sometimes internalized, sound images as well as image splits. In contrast, the linked direct-sound driven compression system provided the listeners with a spatial perception
similar to that obtained with linear processing that served as the reference condition. The independent direct-sound driven compressor created a sense of movement of the sound between the two ears, suggesting that preserving the interaural level differences via linked compression is advantageous with the proposed direct-sound driven compression scheme.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
Issue number6
Pages (from-to)4556–4566
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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C 2017 Author(s). All article content, except where otherwise noted, is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license.

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