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Auditory Localization in Low Bitrate Compressed Ambisonic Scenes

Tomasz Rudzki
Ignacio Gomez-Lanzaco
Jessica Stubbs
Gavin Kearney
Damian Murphy
Applied Sciences, vol. 9 (13) (2019)
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The increasing popularity of Ambisonics as a spatial audio format for streaming services poses new challenges to existing audio coding techniques. Immersive audio delivered to mobile devices requires an efficient bitrate compression that does not affect the spatial quality of the content. Good localizability of virtual sound sources is one of the key elements that has to be preserved. This study was conducted in order to investigate the localization precision of virtual sound source presentations within Ambisonic scenes encoded with Opus low bitrate compression at different bitrates and Ambisonic orders (1st, 3rd, and 5th). The test stimuli were reproduced over a 50-channel spherical loudspeaker configuration and binaurally using individually measured and generic HRTFs. Participants were asked to adjust the position of a virtual acoustic pointer to match the position of virtual sound source within the bitrate compressed Ambisonic scene. Results show that auditory localization in low bitrate compressed Ambisonic scenes is not significantly affected by codec parameters. The key factors influencing localization are the rendering method and Ambisonic order truncation. This suggests that efficient perceptual coding might be successfully used for mobile spatial audio delivery.

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