Prof. Ruth Litovsky have done extensive research on the ability of humans to function in their environment using sound. Most environments in which we spend time have complicated acoustics with echoes coming from many directions and with multiple sounds occurring simultaneously. We are therefore faced with the challenge of interpreting sounds at they reach our ears learning to ignore echoes and other irrelevant distracting signals. Some common examples are classrooms restaurants playgrounds and “cocktail parties”.
The 1999 article by Litovsky et al. seems to be the most recent thorough review of literature on the precedence effect.