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J Acoust Soc Am. 2015 Feb;137(2):757-67. doi: 10.1121/1.4906581.

The effect of spatial separation in distance on the intelligibility of speech in rooms.

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National Acoustic Laboratories, Australian Hearing, 16 University Avenue, Macquarie University, New South Wales 2109, Australia.


The influence of spatial separation in source distance on speech reception thresholds (SRTs) is investigated. In one scenario, the target was presented at 0.5 m distance, and the masker varied from 0.5 m distance up to 10 m. In a second scenario, the masker was presented at 0.5 m distance and the target distance varied. The stimuli were synthesized using convolution with binaural room impulse responses (BRIRs) measured on a dummy head in a reverberant auditorium, and were equalized to compensate for distance-dependent spectral and intensity changes. All sources were simulated directly in front of the listener. SRTs decreased monotonically when the target was at 0.5 m and the speech-masker was moved further away, resulting in a SRT improvement of up to 10 dB. When the speech masker was at 0.5 m and the target was moved away, a large variation across subjects was observed. Neither short-term signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) improvements nor cross-ear glimpsing could account for the observed improvement in intelligibility. However, the effect might be explained by an improvement in the SNR in the modulation domain and a decrease in informational masking. This study demonstrates that distance-related cues can play a significant role when listening in complex environments.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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