Research & Development


When validating systems that use headphones to synthesize virtual sound sources, a direct comparison between virtual and real sources is sometimes needed but the method can be difficult to implement. Often, the listener must wear the headphones throughout the experiment, which will affect the sound transmission from the external loudspeakers to the ears. An analysis of the physical measurements highlighted the that headphones cause a measurable spectral error in HRTF. A maximum spectral ILD distortion of 26.52 dB was found for the close-back headphones. In a localization study, head movement data was used to obtain judgement profiles that showed participants took 0.2 s longer to reach their final judgements and used 0.1 more head-turns. The authors recommend care when choosing headphones for scenarios in which a listener is presented with external acoustic sources. Results for different headphone designs highlight that the use of electrostatic transducers could help maintain natural acoustical perception.

This paper was published in the Journal of the Audio Engineering Society, Volume 63 Issue 10 pp. 799-810; October 2015. It is freely-available from the electronic library of the AES at

The full list of authors is: Darius Satongar (University of Salford / BBC), Chris Pike (BBC), Yiu Lam (University of Salford), Anthony Tew (University of York)