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Spatial Hearing and Virtual 3D Sound

  • Official code: ITA10

    • Course period: second quarter
    • Course year: 1,2
    • Course type: elective
    • Credits: 2
    • Coordinator: Julián Villegas
    • Instructor(s): Julián Villegas and Michael Cohen.


    The purpose of this course is to study the fundamentals of spatial hearing and its application to virtual environments. By using two ears, human among other species, are able to accurately determine the direction from where a sound is being emitted in a real environment. For virtual environments (e.g., movies, games, recorded or live concerts) is desirable to provide the spatial cues found in nature to increase the realism of the scene. Besides reviewing the underlying theories of spatial hearing, this course focuses in practical implementations of binaural hearing techniques, so the course is intense in hands-on exercises, assignments, and projects mainly based on Pure-data programming language (http://puredata.info).


    • Students who approve this course are expected to understand the basic underlying mechanisms of spatial hearing, as well as the literature and terminology on this topic.
    • Given some application constraints (real-time, computing power, etc.) students at the end of the term should be able to decide which of the presented techniques is best for creating the 3D aural illusion.
    • Upon completion of this course, students should be able to successfully implement virtual 3D sound environments based on head-related transfer functions (HRTF) and multi-speaker systems.


    12-Jun Introduction to ITA10
    15-Jun Spatial hearing and psychoacoustics
    19-Jun Lateralization
    22-Jun Lateralization II
    26-Jun Elevation cues
    29-Jun Head-related impulse response and transfer funct
    3-Jul (continuation)
    6-Jul Workshop on HRTF interpolation
    10-Jul Distance cues
    13-Jul Motion cues
    20-Jul Room cues
    24-Jul Loudspeaker techniques
    27-Jul (continuation)
    31-Jul Headphone techniques
    2-Aug Final project workshop
    7-Aug Applications


    Related courses which include important concepts relevant to the course

    This class does not have prerequisites, but it is recommended that students be familiarized with Pure-data programming paradigm, and general audio signal processing techniques. These are some classes that students are encouraged to take, i.e.:

    • ITC02 Introduction to Sound and Audio
    • ITA01 Music Technology
    • ITA07 Advanced Signal Processing

    Evaluation method

    Assignments, Exercises, and Quizzes 60%
    Mid-term project 20%
    Final project 20%

    Referential sources

    • Course website: http://onkyo.u-aizu.ac.jp/index.php/3d-sound/
    • J. Blauert, Spatial Hearing: The Psychophysics of Human Sound Localization. MIT Press, 1997.
    • Bregman, Albert S., Auditory Scene Analysis: The Perceptual Organization of sound. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1990 (hardcover)/1994 (paperback).