APPLE INC. (Cupertino, CA)

A method or device for creating a sound program for headphones uses an area to position the program with respect to both ear. If the location is between the first and second ear piece the program’s sound is processed to produce low-frequency and high-frequency portions. To produce the first and second high-frequency signals, the high-frequency portion is panned to match the position. The low-frequency signal and the first high-frequency signal combine to create a driver signal for the headphone to drive the first earpiece. Similar signals are generated to create a second driver signal. A stereo sound program could be utilized. A device or technique could also allow for an ear piece to be placed between the second and first earpieces. Others aspects may be discussed.

The human auditory system modifies the sounds that come in by filtering them in accordance to their location relative the listener. The brain utilizes a sequence of spatial cues to determine the exact location of the sound. Binaural hearing is a type of human hearing that uses two ears to sense two different sound pressure signals.

The sound source produces fluctuations in the air pressure that allow sound to be transmitted. Pressure waves are generated through changes in air pressure as they move from the sound source and reach the ears. The space between the sound source’s ears and the ears of the listener is affected by the sound pressure waves. In particular, sound pressure waves interact with the head and the ear structure of the listener. These interactions alter the intensity as well as the frequency spectrum of sound depending on the intensity and distance to the source.

These modifications can be described as a Head Related Transfer function (HRTF) as well as a Head Related Impulse Response for each ear. The frequency response function of the ear is known as HRTF. This is the way in which the sound before it reaches the ear is affected by the reflection characteristics of the shoulders and head however not the pinna. The HRIR is a response function that the ear uses. It describes how acoustic sound is delayed or attenuated before arriving at the ear. It’s about the distance to the source, and shadowing the sound source by the listener.

Virtual Acoustic Systems are audio-based systems (e.g. digital audio signal processors that convert audio programs into signals for speaker drivers to power several speakers). This creates the illusion that the sound originates from a particular location in space , but it’s coming from loudspeakers that are located in another location. Virtual acoustic systems can use a combination of headphones (e.g. the earbuds) as well as a binaural digital filter to create the sound exactly how it would arrive at the ears if it were located in space. In another example of a virtual acoustic device, crosstalk cancelling loudspeakers (or cross talk cancelled loudspeaker driver signals) are used to transmit an accurate sound pressure signal to each ear of the user.

Binaural synthesis converts sound sources that don’t contain audio information regarding the position of the source into binaural virtual sounds that include audible information regarding the location of the source to the listener. Binaural synthesis can use binaural filters to transform the source of sound into binaural virtual sounds sources for each ear. The binaural filters are responsive to the distance and direction of the listener to the sound source.

Sound pressure levels for sources that are relatively away from the listener fall at roughly the same frequency in both ears, as the distances from the listener grows. The distances that are increased will cause a decrease in volumetric pressure. This is because of the sphericalwave attenuation of the listener. Far-field sound sources refer to sound sources that are located far away from the listener’s location where they can be measured using sphericalwave attenuation. Far-field distance refers to the distance where sound sources begin to become far-field sound sources. The distance between sound sources and listeners is greater when sounds are located along an axis that passes through their ears, and the distance between sound sources that lie on perpendicular lines that run through the middle of the ears is the least. The distance between the ears on the axis which passes through the listener’s ears may be around 1.5 meters. The perpendicular, or perpendicular, axis may extend to the extreme end of the ear of the listener via the midpoint. It could be about 0.4 meters. Sound sources that are at a farther distance from the listener can be represented as far-field sources.

When a source of sound approaches the listener, the effects of the interaction between the listener’s head and body and the sound pressure waves get more prominent. The difference in sound intensity between the ears of the listener is known as the Interaural Level Difference (ILD). Head shadowing effects cause a sound to move toward the listener on an axis. It will intensify at the ipsilateral ear , and decrease in the opposite. When a distance is between 0.5 to 0.25 meters in length, the ILD starts to increase. It becomes more prominent when it is at a distance of 0.25 meters.

The difference in sound time of arrival between listeners’ ears is known as the Interaural Time Difference (ITD). The ITD also increases rapidly as an audio source gets closer to the listener and the gap in distances between the source to the listener’s two ears becomes more apparent. Sound sources that are located at distances where the influence of the listener’s head and body are prominent, are referred to as sound sources with near-field effects. Near-field sources of sound are those that are located less than 1.0 to 1.5 metres away from the person listening. Binaural filters can be used to simulate the way a listener would listen to them.

Modeling of sound sources with binaural filters that include near-field effects may be beneficial at distances of 0.25 meters or more. If the preferred location for the sound source gets very close to the listener’s ears, e.g. less than about 0.25meters in distance, binaural filters that contain near-field effects start to create binaural audio signals that have been proven to be subjectively unsatisfactory. Head shadowing effects can create an occlusion feeling or inaudibility at the lateral ears.

It is possible to decrease the distance between the source of sound and listener’s ears in order to position it in an inside-head location. Binaural filters based on HRTFs are not effective. The reason is that microphone measurements pick up sound from sound sources placed at an undefined distance from listeners’ heads. The head of the listener and shoulders have of course changed the sound. The measurements for deriving HRTFs could be done by using microphones that are placed at the listener’s ear or within the ears of a dummy head , or an acoustic manikin.

It would be possible to synthesize binaural audio signal (that would drive respective transducers on the right and left ears of a person listening) to build a virtual acoustic system. This will enable the listener to hear the sound source that is moving towards or away from) where the effective range for near-field modeling ends and the center of their head. Or another head-on location.

In a device or method to render a sound program for headphones, a position is determined to place the program according to first and second ear pieces. The program is processed to create high-frequency and low-frequency parts if the location is between the first and the second ear pieces (anin-head places). The high-frequency part is panned depending on the location in order to generate first and second high-frequency signals. In order to drive the first earpiece, the low-frequency portion is combined with the initial high-frequency signal. A second headphone driver signal can be produced in a similar manner, combining the low-frequency portion and the second high-frequency signal toproduce a second in-head signal. Stereo sound programs could be also possible. The device or method may allow for rendering of the sound program in a specific location, such as between the earpiece of the first and a near-field boundary. This location can be changed in time, so that the program can be gradually moved from an inside-head position outside-the head position or in reverse (e.g. from outside-the-head to inside the head).

The summary above does not contain an exhaustive listing of all aspects of the present disclosure. The disclosure is intended to encompass all systems and methods which can utilize the diverse aspects described above. Combinations of these may provide particular advantages not explicitly mentioned in the above summary.

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