Binaural Cues for Distance and Direction of Nearby Sound Sources
MetadataShow full item record
To a first-order approximation, binaural localization cues are ambiguous: a number of source locations give rise to nearly the same interaural differences. For sources more than a meter from the listener, binaural localization cues are approximately equal for any source on a cone centered on the interaural axis (i.e., the well-known "cones of confusion"). The current paper analyzes simple geometric approximations of a listener's head to gain insight into localization performance for sources near the listener. In particular, if the head is treated as a rigid, perfect sphere, interaural intensity differences (IIDs) can be broken down into two main components. One component is constant along the cone of confusion (and thus co varies with the interaural time difference, or ITD). The other component is roughly constant for a sphere centered on the interaural axis and depends only on the relative pathlengths from the source to the two ears. This second factor is only large enough to be perceptible when sources are within one or two meters of the listener. These results are not dramatically different if one assumes that the ears are separated by 160 degrees along the surface of the sphere (rather than diametrically opposite one another). Thus, for sources within a meter of the listener, binaural information should allow listeners to locate sources within a volume around a circle centered on the interaural axis, on a "doughnut of confusion." The volume of the doughnut of confusion increases dramatically with angle between source and the interaural axis, degenerating to the entire median plane in the limit.