Improving 3-D Audio Localisation Through the Provision of Supplementary Spatial Audio Cues

John Towers1, *, Robin Burgess-Limerick2, Stephan Riek3
1 Boeing Defence Australia, Boeing Research & Technology Australia, Brisbane 4001, Australia
2 The University of Queensland, Centre for Sensorimotor Neuroscience, School of Human Movement Studies, St. Lucia 4072, Australia
3 The University of Queensland, Minerals Industry Safety and Health Centre, St. Lucia 4072 Australia

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Towers et al.; Licensee Bentham Open

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Boeing Defence Australia, 363 Adelaide St, Brisbane 4001, Australia; Tel: +61 7 3306 3527; Fax: +61 7 3306 3123; E-mail:


This study examined whether azimuth localising performance for non-individualised 3-D audio without integrated head tracking can be improved through the provision of supplementary reference signals. Twenty-two participants attempted to determine the location of spatial sounds developed through a non-individualised head-related transfer function (HRTF) while performing a visual distractor task. Localising sounds were randomly presented at 0- degrees elevation for each 10-degree increment about the azimuth. Three audio conditions were tested, two of which included different supplementary cues in the form of stationary and transient sounds that were spatially positioned to aid localising reference toward the midsagittal plane and interaural axis. The supplementary cues decreased errors in frontback perception; however, they did not significantly aid azimuth localising performance, and occasionally were reported to distract and disorient some participants. Supplementary audio cues have the potential to improve localising performance but should be more closely associated with the presented sound to lessen distraction and disorientation.

Keywords: 3-D Audio, Audio Display, Audio Localisation, HRTF.