I am a Professor of Acoustic Engineering at the University of Salford where I carry out research and teaching focussing on architectural acoustics, signal processing and audio perception. I am also an author and radio broadcaster having presented many documentaries on BBC radio and written books for academics and the general public.
Best known research
My work on diffusers, summarized in my academic book Acoustic Absorbers and Diffusers, which was co-authored with Peter D’Antonio, has the most citations in my publications listed in Google Scholar. The most satisfying part of this work is seeing my research turned into actual designs which have been used in performance spaces worldwide.
Major current research projects
With the BBC move to MediaCityUK in Salford and the establishment of the BBC Audio Research Partnership, increasing amounts of my research are focussed on broadcast audio. (A list of past research projects can be found here)
The good recording project
Many of us carry about mobiles and other technologies that can record sound, whether that is the sound of our child’s first music concert on a digital camera or capturing a practical joke on a mobile phone. Mainstream news bulletins often use amateur footage of dramatic events and some TV programmes entirely consist of user generated content. The sound quality is often poor: distorted, noisy, with garbled speech or indistinct music. The good recording project is trying to understand how these recording errors are perceived, and to develop computer programs using machine listening that can automatically detect the errors. The project is funded by EPSRC and had BBC R&D and the British Library as partners.
Future Spatial Audio for The Home
This project wants listeners to experience the sense of “being there” at a live event, such as a concert or football match, from the comfort of their living room through delivery of immersive 3D sound to the home using object-based content delivery. This project is funded by EPSRC and is a major five-year research collaboration between 3 Universities, the BBC and UK audio industry.
My first popular science book Sonic Wonderland/The Sound Book appears in 2014. It is based on my popular website about Sound Tourism. I have also written articles for New Scientist and the Guardian. In 2015 I was given the ASA Science Writing Award for acoustics professionals.
My most recent documentary was on Compression vs Art for BBC Radio 4. A more complete radio biography can be found here. I’ve also been involved in numerous media stories as an interviewee, with the most popular being a debunking of the phrase ‘a duck’s quack doesn’t echo’.
Work with schools
I helped develop extensive teaching resources for schools, the latest reached more than a quarter of a million pupils. I have developed and presented science shows seen by 15,000 children, including appearances at the Royal Albert Hall, the Purcell Rooms at the South Bank Centre and the Royal Institution.
Perceptual measurements across the Internet
I run a popular site which hosts web experiments which test people’s responses to sound. sound101.org hosted the hugely popular experiment into the Worst Sound in the World. On the site you’ll also find some other research experiments to try.
- Former President of the Institute of Acoustics (IOA).
- Awarded the Tyndall Award by the IOA as well as their award for Promoting Acoustics to the Public.
- Honorary Fellow of the IOA.
- Convener of ISO Working Group WG25
- Associate Editor of Acta Acustica 2000-13
My favourite video from my YouTube channel (done as part of a Comic Relief project):
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