This study measured the ability of subjects to localize broadband sound sources that varied in both horizontal and vertical location. Brief (150 ms) sounds were presented in a free field, and subjects reported the apparent stimulus location by turning to face the sound source; head orientation was measured electromagnetically. Localization of continuous sounds also was tested to estimate errors in the motor act of orienting with the head. Localization performance was excellent for brief sounds presented in front of the subject. The smallest errors, averaged across subjects, were about 2° and 3.5° in the horizontal and vertical dimensions, respectively. The sizes of errors increased, for more peripheral stimulus locations, to maxima of about 20°. Localization performance was better in the horizontal than in the vertical dimension for stimuli located on or near the frontal midline, but the opposite was true for most stimuli located further peripheral. Front/back confusions occurred in 6% of trials; the characteristics of those responses suggest that subjects derived horizontal localization information principally from interaural difference cues. The generally high level of performance obtained with the head orientation technique argues for its utility in continuing studies of sound localization.

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