Can an Optimized MidSide Technique Improve Perceived Envelopment in Game Audio
Abstract: Mid/side processing techniques are commonly used in the music recording industry to widen the stereo image to create a more enveloping listening experience. Since the gaming industry is now in need of better audio solutions to stay on par with the recent visual advances intechnology; these mid/side techniques could potentially be a useful tool for sound designers to use. In this study, an experiment was conducted where 16 participants were asked to play 4 scenarios with different audio settings meant to enhance envelopment in different ways. After each scenario the participants were asked to rate their preference and perceived envelopment followed by a short survey after all 4 scenarios were completed. The quantitative data showed very little evidence suggesting the mid/side processing to be neither perceived more enveloping nor more preferred than the other versions, except for a group with gamers that played games less than 6 hours per week. The qualitative data on the other hand, showed hints at the mid/side version having envelopment as its defining attribute along with it making the sound design more exciting and making some sounds more powerful. The main problem with the mid/side technique seems to be that it has to exclude in-game spatialization for the widened stereo image to be perceived as enveloping. However, if it is applied on sounds that do not need to be spatialized then it might be able to improve the perceived envelopment of those sounds.
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