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Acoustics

Academics work on cutting-edge, applied research driven by new legislation, standards, techniques or equipment

Academics in Acoustics at LSBU believe in working on cutting edge applied research. Acoustics is highly active within LSBU's Civil and Building Services Engineering Division, which is acclaimed for its research and contributes to work within Health, Acoustics and Communications Engineering.

The department has a long track record of research in building and environmental acoustics and has expertise in architectural acoustics and environmental noise measurement, modelling of the behaviour of sound, speech intelligibility, noise exposure assessment and questionnaire survey techniques. Research outcomes have influenced noise insulation regulations for railways, building regulations for school design and design of concert halls, auditoria and music college practice rooms.

Within acoustics, research is currently conducted in the following areas:

  • acoustics in schools and effects of noise on pupils and teachers
  • voice alarms and public address systems in underground stations
  • mitigating measures to control the sound exposure of classical musicians
  • urban wind turbines
  • speech indices
  • computer simulation of enclosed spaces

Research excellence

LSBU is a top modern university in London for 'impact' (reach and significance) with 73% of our research awarded the highest quality ratings of 4* and 3* - Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014.

Research interests

Mitigating measures to control the sound exposure of classical musicians
Since 2006, Dr Dance has been working with the Royal Academy of Music to reduce the sound exposure of classical musicians to comply with the 2005 Control of Noise at Work Regulations. This research has now been taken up by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Henry Wood Hall. It involves audiometric testing, designing new mitigation measures and devices, and producing new monitoring systems. It has led to a particularly inspiring piece of research: the musical mirror, which, by absorbing sound, allows classical musicians to practice in very small rooms more safely.
Voice Alarms and Public Address systems in underground stations  
LSBU Acoustics has gained expertise in voice alarm and public address (VA/PA) systems to directly improve the quality of service of London Underground. LSBU carried out research into the design and optimisation of those systems used during emergency scenarios. LSBU were an integral part of the team which designed the electro-novel design approaches, a simple prediction model, a design performance parameter as well as valuable insights and recommendations aiming at improving speech intelligibility of announcements. The research has highlighted the need for a new standard for VA/PA systems on underground railways.
Current research involves the investigation into the effects of underground platform occupancy on VA performance in emergency situations and the revision of current performance specifications. Read more about this work with London Underground.
Urban Wind Turbines
Since 2007, the team has developed expertise in urban wind turbine installations in both noise and vibration control. They've monitored two turbines on the Heygate Estate at Elephant and Castle – a 6k Proven turbine and a 6k Quiet Revolution vertical axis turbine. This lead, in 2009 to commercial installation on a residential tower block for Islington Homes. Since 2011, the team has worked with Brookfield Multiplex on monitoring of the first building integrated wind turbines, situated on top of the Strata Tower in SE1.  
Speech Indices
Since 2001, acoustics research has been interested in speech indices. Initially, this was through the development of an intelligibility test suitable for young children. Now, the research has progressed to include a more accurate male speech spectrum and a new speech intelligibility curve relating phonetically balanced words, as heard by native English speakers with excellent hearing ability (mainly from the Royal Academy of Music) under a real world conditions listening test, and the speech transmission index. The male speech spectrum and curve will be submitted to IEC 60268-16 for consideration for the proposed 2016 edition.  
Computer Simulation of Enclosed Spaces
Since 1988 we have specialised in architectural acoustics, in particular computer simulation. The team has produced their own ray-tracing and image source software programs. Now, we have focused on the CATT-Acoustics software package and auralisation system, the winMLS room acoustic measurement system and the Microflown in-situ absorption impedance gun. We have modelled and measured auditoria, theatres, classrooms and underground stations, calculating the most appropriate calibration of a computer model, the level of geometric detail required and the easiest method of building a model (Google Sketchup!)

Research facilities

The university has full anechoic and reverberation chambers. These specialist rooms are fully isolated from external noise and vibration, and are designed to provide spaces with either no (anechoic chamber) or the maximum possible amount of reflected sound (reverberation chamber). In 2012 and 2013, the Acoustics laboratory and the reverberation chamber were refurbished.

Both chambers have been used for simulating idealised conditions for researching a number of acoustic phenomena; sound power determination, sound absorption coefficient characterisation, binaural recordings, measurement of source directivity, testing of hearing protectors and demonstrating fundamental acoustic principles.

The acoustics laboratory is equipped with a full range of sophisticated equipment for the measurement of building and environmental acoustics, speech and voice parameters and vibration. Read more about our acoustic facilities.

Research degree opportunities

The research is closely linked to LSBU's Department of Urban Engineering which offers exciting opportunities for postgraduate study. We offer an MSc in Environmental and Architectural Acoustics, which may be studied part-time or full-time and opportunities for postgraduate research leading to an MPhil/PhD. We also offer the Institute of Acoustics Diploma in Acoustics and Noise Control.  

The wide range of research activities in the School of The Built Environment and Architecture, together with the mix of academic staff, post-doctoral research fellows and visiting professors, allows us to offer a stimulating and diverse postgraduate environment. Read more about Research Degrees at LSBU

Prizes

Prof. Shield is President of the Institute of Acoustics from 2012 to 2014. She has received the Institute of Acoustics R W B Stephens Medal and the Noise Abatement Society Lifetime Achievement Award for her contributions to teaching and research and for raising awareness of the problems of noise in schools. She has recently been elected a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America.

Dr Dance was a recipient of the Acoustical Society of America Schultz Prize for Architectural Acoustic Education and the Student Mentoring Award.

LSBU's Acoustics MSc students are regular winners of the Newman Medal for merit in architectural acoustics, which is awarded by the Newman Fund of the Acoustical Society of America. Two PhD students have also been awarded the Institute of Acoustics Peter Barnett Student Memorial Award for research in Electro-Acoustics and Speech Intelligibility.

Contact

Prof. Bridget Shield
Tel: 020 7815 7658
Email: shieldbm@lsbu.ac.uk

Dr Stephen Dance
Tel: 020 7815 7672
Email: dances@lsbu.ac.uk

Dr Luis Gomez-Agustina
Tel: 020 7815 7367
Email: gomezagl@lsbu.ac.uk

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