The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

Effects of test method and participant musical training on preference ratings of stimuli with different reverberation times.

PMID 29092592


Selecting an appropriate listening test design for concert hall research depends on several factors, including listening test method and participant critical-listening experience. Although expert listeners afford more reliable data, their perceptions may not be broadly representative. The present paper contains two studies that examined the validity and reliability of the data obtained from two listening test methods, a successive and a comparative method, and two types of participants, musicians and non-musicians. Participants rated their overall preference of auralizations generated from eight concert hall conditions with a range of reverberation times (0.0-7.2 s). Study 1, with 34 participants, assessed the two methods. The comparative method yielded similar results and reliability as the successive method. Additionally, the comparative method was rated as less difficult and more preferable. For study 2, an additional 37 participants rated the stimuli using the comparative method only. An analysis of variance of the responses from both studies revealed that musicians are better than non-musicians at discerning their preferences across stimuli. This result was confirmed with a k-means clustering analysis on the entire dataset that revealed five preference groups. Four groups exhibited clear preferences to the stimuli, while the fifth group, predominantly comprising non-musicians, demonstrated no clear preference.

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