Imperial College London

Spatial up-sampling of HRTF sets using generative adversarial networks: A pilot study

Pongsakorn Siripornpitak, Isaac Engel, Isaac Squires, Samuel J. Cooper, Lorenzo Picinali
August 23, 2022
Frontiers in Signal Processing

Headphones-based spatial audio simulations rely on Head-related Transfer Functions (HRTFs) in order to reconstruct the sound field at the entrance of the listener’s ears. A HRTF is strongly dependent on the listener’s specific anatomical structures, and it has been shown that virtual sounds recreated with someone else’s HRTF result in worse localisation accuracy, as well as altering other subjective measures such as externalisation and realism. Acoustic measurements of the filtering effects generated by ears, head and torso has proven to be one of the most reliable ways to obtain a personalised HRTF. However this requires a dedicated and expensive setup, and is time-intensive. In order to simplify the measurement setup, thereby improving the scalability of the process, we are exploring strategies to reduce the number of acoustic measurements without degrading the spatial resolution of the HRTF. Traditionally, spatial up-sampling of HRTF sets is achieved through barycentric interpolation or by employing the spherical harmonics framework. However, such methods often perform poorly when the provided HRTF data is spatially very sparse. This work investigates the use of generative adversarial networks (GANs) to tackle the up-sampling problem, offering an initial insight about the suitability of this technique. Numerical evaluations based on spectral magnitude error and perceptual model outputs are presented on single spatial dimensions, therefore considering sources positioned only in one of the three main planes: Horizontal, median, and frontal. Results suggest that traditional HRTF interpolation methods perform better than the proposed GAN-based one when the distance between measurements is smaller than 90°, but for the sparsest conditions (i.e., one measurement every 120°–180°), the proposed approach outperforms the others.

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