Trevor Cox

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.
Trevor Cox on the stage of the Bridgewater Hall

Best known research

Acoustic Absorbers and DiffusersMy 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.

Public engagement

Author

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.

Radio presenter

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.

Other

  • 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

Social Media

My favourite video from my YouTube channel (done as part of a Comic Relief project):

Other contacts

  • T.J.Cox@salford.ac.uk
  • 0161 295 5474
  • 07986 557 419

38 responses to “Trevor Cox

  1. This article is a nice resources for those who are decided to do audio engineering career.

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  3. Just listened to you on Fresh Air – in anticipation of a gathering of the best sounds in the world mine would be the Hermit Thrush, Beverly, Pagosa Springs, Colorado.

  4. During my childhood, there was “barking sand” on a small beach on the Green Bay arm of Lake Michigan (U.S. state of Wisconsin). I think it was at a park called Newport. It was a plain flat beach. The area is called Door County and is largely limestone.
    Steve Schmidt – srschmidt@copar.com

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  6. I’ve enjoyed the fascinating interviews with you on Science Friday and other NPR programs! Your discussions brought to mind Joseph C. Douglas’s article “Music in the Mammoth Cave: An Important Aspect of 19th Century Cave Tourism,” Journal of Spelean History, July-September 1998 (vol. 32, no 3–viewable online). Having spent time in Mammoth, the world’s longest known cave, I can only imagine some of the sound effects described. I look forward to reading The Sound Book.

  7. Peter Sudbury, Peterborough, ON, Canada

    Just listened to your fresh Air interview (in Canada even!). As a French horn it was fascinating and educational. Now looking for your explanation why the horn is the most pleasing instrument to listen to! (Difficulty is a different issue)😀

  8. I recently heard your interview on Fresh Air, and enjoyed it immensely! Your field seems very interesting, and I look forward to purchasing your book. Thanks!

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  11. Are there any podcasts online for your previous Science Friday interviews?

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  17. I think there is a way for blind people through sound
    Kurt Fuhrmann

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  20. Trevor, your book is incredible. I am just getting to the part in the “Placing Sound” chapter with the cool graphs of your saxophone. I am glad I heard the interview on NPR.

    Is the bibliography good in your book? i haven’t even had a chance to look but I am ready to get a similar book.

  21. Kurt Fuhrmann

    Hello I am an inventor and I think I have a way for blind people to see with sound
    Kurt Fuhrmann TTug90@aol.com

  22. Hey Trevor,

    Just wanted to let you know I gave you a shout-out on our “Top Audiophile Sites” list. If you want to check out your blurb, here’s the link: http://pickyear.com/top-audiophile-sites/

    Anyway, it’s just our way of saying we appreciate your work. Thanks!🙂

    Best regards,
    Hogni Kamban

  23. Trevor, I just finished reading your book, “The Sound Book”. As a scientist with background in underwater acoustics, and as a composer, I found your book to be fascinating. Unfortunately, for the average reader, the book may be a bit disappointing. It is difficult for many to imagine what the sounds are really like..May I suggest that you publish your book as an audiobook, and include recordings of all the locations?

  24. You might consider any of the Galapagos Islands for a truly quiet experience. No air traffic at all, no boat noise, and no population. I have experienced Kelso Dunes, and the Olympic National Park, and these are no comparison to the quiet of Galapagos.

    Gerald G. Brown
    National Academy of Engineering
    Distinguished Professor
    Operations Research Department
    Naval Postgraduate School
    Monterey, CA 93943
    ggbrown@nps.edu

  25. Have you heard (and seen-the delight of the stone-skipping man is another auditory wonder!) the sound of stones skipping on a frozen lake? Buzzy- vibrating surprise. Facebook video.

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  27. Just heard you (for the first time in 30 years!) on Radio 4 – very good, hope you enjoy it when your music fast ends.

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  32. Hi Trevor,

    I’ve just listened to your Radio 4 feature and I really enjoyed it. Listening to you brought back all my memories and experiences I had when working for about 10 years as a sound engineer back in Germany.

    I have some thoughts about bad sounds you mentioned and why for example we don’t like the sound of chalk screeching on a blackboard. Back in the 90ies I worked as a sound recordist in a Munich studio specialising in recording sounds for films – so everything but music and speech. The key to this type of recording is to *not* see how the Geräuschemacher (Foley artist) is creating the sounds! Example, if you need a car screeching round the corner he would use a rubber glove and drag it across a window glass. If you don’t know how it’s done it sounds 100% like a car screeching round the corner. If you see what he was doing it sounded 100% like a rubber glove on a window glass.

    If you only hear the sound of a piece of chalk screeching on a blackboard it will sound nasty but bearable (your brain will interpret it to whatever comes to your mind eg a scream). If, however, you hear *and* see or being told that someone is screeching the chalk across the blackboard it’s pure pain because you immediately associate this with your own fingernail being bent backwards and ripped into pieces. The association here is more about self inflicted pain rather than a scream.

    I agree with all you said about listening what’s around you. It’s something we should all do more often. It has a calming and healing effect. I do on a regular basis – just listening, no matter where you are.

    Best wishes
    Stephane

  33. I enjoyed your profile on Radio 4’s “The Life Scientific”. Have you ever considered taking up the challenge of tracing the exact source of the sound of the so-called singing fish in Batticaloa Lagoon in Sri Lanka? I heard them myself in the sixties, and my father made a recording which I still have. There are also recordings on YouTube, and there was a Radio 4 programme about “The Singing Fish of Batticaloa” (available on iPlayer), but I don’t think anyone has ever determined precisely where the sound comes from.

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