The impact of early reflections on binaural cues

by Boris Gourévitch, Romain Brette
Abstract:
Animals live in cluttered auditory environments, where sounds arrive at the two ears through several paths. Reflections make sound localization difficult, and it is thought that the auditory system deals with this issue by isolating the first wavefront and suppressing later signals. However, in many situations, reflections arrive too early to be suppressed, for example, reflections from the ground in small animals. This paper examines the implications of these early reflections on binaural cues to sound localization, using realistic models of reflecting surfaces and a spherical model of diffraction by the head. The fusion of direct and reflected signals at each ear results in interference patterns in binaural cues as a function of frequency. These cues are maximally modified at frequencies related to the delay between direct and reflected signals, and therefore to the spatial location of the sound source. Thus, natural binaural cues differ from anechoic cues. In particular, the range of interaural time differences is substantially larger than in anechoic environments. Reflections may potentially contribute binaural cues to distance and polar angle when the properties of the reflecting surface are known and stable, for example, for reflections on the ground.
Reference:
Boris Gourévitch, Romain Brette, 2012.The impact of early reflections on binaural cues, The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, volume 132.
Bibtex Entry:
@article{Gourevitch2012,
 abstract = {Animals live in cluttered auditory environments, where sounds arrive at the two ears through several paths. Reflections make sound localization difficult, and it is thought that the auditory system deals with this issue by isolating the first wavefront and suppressing later signals. However, in many situations, reflections arrive too early to be suppressed, for example, reflections from the ground in small animals. This paper examines the implications of these early reflections on binaural cues to sound localization, using realistic models of reflecting surfaces and a spherical model of diffraction by the head. The fusion of direct and reflected signals at each ear results in interference patterns in binaural cues as a function of frequency. These cues are maximally modified at frequencies related to the delay between direct and reflected signals, and therefore to the spatial location of the sound source. Thus, natural binaural cues differ from anechoic cues. In particular, the range of interaural time differences is substantially larger than in anechoic environments. Reflections may potentially contribute binaural cues to distance and polar angle when the properties of the reflecting surface are known and stable, for example, for reflections on the ground.},
 author = {Gour{'e}vitch, Boris
and Brette, Romain},
 doi = {10.1121/1.4726052},
 issn = {1520-8524},
 journal = {The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America},
 keyword = {Sound Localization},
 language = {eng},
 month = {Jul},
 number = {1},
 pages = {9--27},
 pmid = {22779451},
 title = {The impact of early reflections on binaural cues.},
 volume = {132},
 year = {2012}
}