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Jonas Braasch

Professor, Architecture; Director of Operations, Cognitive & Immersive Systems Lab | Architecture


Specializes in collaborative virtual reality systems, binaural hearing, auditory modeling, and multimodal integration

Areas of Expertise

Intelligent Music SystemsSensory Substitution DevicesAuditory ModelingCollaborative Virtual Reality SystemsBinaural HearingMultimodal IntegrationSpatial Hearing


Jonas Braasch is a Professor in the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and teaches in the Graduate Program in Architectural Acoustics. He also serves as Director of Operations in the Cognitive & Immersive Systems Lab at Rensselaer. His research interests span collaborative virtual reality systems, binaural hearing, auditory modeling, multimodal integration, sensory substitution devices, aural architecture and creative processes in music improvisation. For his work, he has received funding from the National Science Foundation, Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, DFG (German Science Foundation), the European Research Council, New York State Council on the Arts, the Christopher and Dana Reeve and Craig H. Neilsen Foundations. He obtained a master’s degree from Dortmund University (Germany, 1998) in Physics and two Ph.D. degrees from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany (2001, 2004) in Electrical Engineering/Information Science and Musicology. As a soprano saxophonist, he has worked with Curtis Bahn, Chris Chafe, Stuart Dempster, Mark Dresser, Zach Layton, Francisco Lopez, Pauline Oliveros, and Doug van Nort – among others. Within his saxophone practice, Jonas Braasch developed his horn of sounds concept, which is the first method for wind instruments to use different sound generators to create a palette of sounds and styles using one main instrument to achieve an enhanced awareness of internal diversityJonas Braasch is an acoustician, musicologist, and sound artist who teaches courses in Acoustics, Music, and the Doctoral Seminar at the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. He obtained a master's degree from Dortmund University (Germany, 1998) in Physics and two PhD degrees from Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany (2001, 2004) in Electrical Engineering/Information Science and Musicology. Mr. Braasch is the co-founder and director of the Communication Acoustics and Aural Architecture Research Laboratory (CA3RL) which is part of RPI's Architectural Acoustics Program. His research interests include Binaural Hearing, Multi-channel Audio Technology, Telematic Music Systems, Perceptual Audio/Visual Integration, Intelligent Systems, and Musical Acoustics. Jonas Braasch (co-)authored more than 60 journal and conference papers and 3 monographs. For his work, he has received funding from the NSF, NSERC, DFG (German Science Foundation), and NYSCA.



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Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Ph.D., Electrical Engineering/Information Science


Ruhr-University Bochum, Germany

Ph.D., Musicology


Dortmund University

M.Sc., Physics


Media Appearances

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute finds bold new way to teach Mandarin

Times Union  


"We don't want cumbersome gear to distance the student from the immersion," explained Jonas Braasch, School of Architecture associate professor, an expert in acoustics...

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Social music network helps disabled

The Daily Gazette  


According to CCC Director Jonas Braasch, PhD, it’s a matter of connecting people in a meaningful way, while enabling them to access something that might otherwise be out of reach. “There’s a need to have the tools to express yourself in an artistic sense, a desire to be creative,” he said, which is true for all of us, disabled or not. He and his teammates are looking to fill that need...

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Noisy Humans Drown Out Sounds of Nature in Protected Areas

Wall Street Journal  print


Jonas Braasch, a musicologist at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute who studies the psychology of sound, recently found that office workers listening to the burble of a flowing mountain stream while taking tests not only performed better, but also reported feeling more positive about their surroundings, compared with those who listened to normal office noise or a background recording of white noise.

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This Sound Instantly Improves Concentration (and Mood)

Yahoo Health  online


Scientists from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in New York have found that the sounds of nature — from babbling brooks to tweeting birds to the wind in the trees — helps us concentrate, de-stress, and boosts our mood.

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The precedence effect with increased lag level | Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

M.T. Pastore, J. Braasch


When a pair of sounds arrive from different directions with a sufficiently short delay between them, listeners hear a perceptually fused image with a perceived location that is dominated by the first arriving sound. This is called the precedence effect. To test the limits of this phenomenon, 200-ms noise stimuli were presented over headphones to model a temporally overlapping direct sound (lead) with a single reflection (lag) at inter-stimulus intervals (ISIs) of 0-5 ms. Lag intensity exceeded that of the lead by 0-10 dB. Results for 16 listeners show that lateralization shifted from the position of the lead towards the lag as lag level increased. Response variability also increased with lag level. An oscillatory pattern emerged across ISIs as lag level increased, to a degree that varied greatly between listeners. Analysis of modeled binaural cues suggests that these oscillatory patterns are correlated with ILDs produced by the physical interference of lead and lag during the ongoing portion of the stimulus, especially in the 764-Hz frequency band. Different listeners apparently weighted cues from the onset versus ongoing portions of the stimulus differently, as evidenced by the varying degree of influence the ongoing ILD cues had on listeners' perceived lateralization.

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The import of within-listener variability to understanding the precedence effect | Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

M.T. Pastore, C. Trahiotis, and J. Braasch


The purpose of this study was to gather behavioral data concerning the precedence effect as manifested by the localization-dominance of the leading elements of compound stimuli. This investigation was motivated by recent findings of Shackleton and Palmer [(2006). J. Assoc. Res. Otolaryngol. 7, 425-442], who measured the electro-physiological responses of single units in the inferior colliculus of the guinea pig. The neural data from Shackleton and Palmer indicated that processing of binaural cues like those relevant to understanding localization dominance is greatly affected by internal, neural noise. In order to evaluate the generality of their physiological results to human perception, the present study measured localization dominance so that behavioral responses within and across sets of samples (i.e., tokens) of frozen noises could be compared. Conceptually consistent with Shackleton and Palmer's neural data, the variability of perceived intracranial lateral positions produced by repeated presentations of the same tokens of noise was greater than the variability of intracranial lateral positions measured across different tokens of noise. This was true for each of the four individual listeners and for each of the 72 stimulus conditions studied. Thus, measured either neuro-physiologically (Shackleton and Palmer, 2006) or behaviorally (this study), the import of within-listener variability appears to be a general, intrinsic aspect of binaural information processing.

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A precedence effect model to simulate localization dominance using an adaptive, stimulus parameter-based inhibition process | Journal of the Acoustical Society of America

J. Braasch


A number of precedence-effect models have been developed to simulate the robust localization performance of humans in reverberant conditions. Although they are able to reduce reverberant information for many conditions, they tend to fail for ongoing stimuli with truncated on/offsets, a condition human listeners master when localizing a sound source in the presence of a reflection, according to a study by Dizon and Colburn [J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 119, 2947–2964 (2006)]. This paper presents a solution for this condition by using an autocorrelation mechanism to estimate the delay and amplitude ratio between the leading and lagging signals. An inverse filter is then used to eliminate the lag signal, before it is localized with a standard localization algorithm. The current algorithm can operate on top of a basic model of the auditory periphery (gammatone filter bank, half-wave rectification) to simulate psychoacoustic data by Braasch et al. [Acoust. Sci. Tech. 24, 293–303 (2003)] and Dizon and Colburn. The model performs robustly with these on/offset truncated and interaural level difference based stimuli and is able to demonstrate the Haas effect.

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