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Efficient HRTF-based Spatial Audio for Area and Volumetric Sources

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Published on Feb 5, 2016

We present a novel spatial audio rendering technique to handle sound sources that can be represented by either an area or a volume in VR environments. As opposed to point-sampled sound sources, our approach projects the area-volumetric source on the spherical domain centered at the listener and represents this projection area compactly using the spherical harmonic (SH) basis functions. By representing the head-related transfer function (HRTF) in the same basis function, we demonstrate that spatial audio which corresponds to an area-volumetric source can be efficiently computed as a dot product of the SH coefficients of the projection area and the HRTF. This results in an efficient technique whose computational complexity and memory requirements are independent of the complexity of the sound source. Our approach can support dynamic area-volumetric sound sources at interactive rates. We evaluate the performance of our technique on large complex VR environments and demonstrate significant improvement over the naive point-sampling technique. We also present results of a user evaluation, conducted to quantify the subjective preference of the user for our approach over the point-sampling approach in VR environments.

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