The effect of spatial separation in distance on the intelligibility of speech in rooms

Adam Westermann*, Jörg M. Buchholz

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    27 Citations (Scopus)
    46 Downloads (Pure)


    The influence of spatial separation in source distance on speech reception thresholds (SRTs) is investigated. In one scenario, the target was presented at 0.5 m distance, and the masker varied from 0.5 m distance up to 10 m. In a second scenario, the masker was presented at 0.5 m distance and the target distance varied. The stimuli were synthesized using convolution with binaural room impulse responses (BRIRs) measured on a dummy head in a reverberant auditorium, and were equalized to compensate for distance-dependent spectral and intensity changes. All sources were simulated directly in front of the listener. SRTs decreased monotonically when the target was at 0.5 m and the speech-masker was moved further away, resulting in a SRT improvement of up to 10 dB. When the speech masker was at 0.5 m and the target was moved away, a large variation across subjects was observed. Neither short-term signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) improvements nor cross-ear glimpsing could account for the observed improvement in intelligibility. However, the effect might be explained by an improvement in the SNR in the modulation domain and a decrease in informational masking. This study demonstrates that distance-related cues can play a significant role when listening in complex environments.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)757-767
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2015

    Bibliographical note

    Copyright 2015 Acoustical Society of America. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the Acoustical Society of America. The following article appeared in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 137(2), pp. 757-767 and may be found at


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