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Acoustics research centre

Computer Modelling of Sound

The ability to model a sound field accurate is fundamental to the understanding of the underlying characteristics of the sound and how the sound can be manipulated and controlled. The advance of computational technology, both in hardware and software, has enabled us to make great progresses in modelling ever more sophisticated sound fields in realistic indoor and outdoor environments.

The impact of works in this area can be seen in the design of acoustic performance spaces such as studios, concert halls and soundscapes in urban design; the development of novel and high performance acoustic materials such as sonic cloaks and active absorbers; and more effective control of noise such as novel noise barriers, metal cladding with high noise insulation, and active noise shielding technology.

At Salford we continue to be at the forefront of developing new techniques for modelling and sound, and the use of such modelling techniques to tackle pertinent practical acoustical and related problems. We have developed and used a wide range of numerical techniques for computer modelling, including (among others) geometrical methods, boundary element methods, finite element methods, finite difference methods, and parabolic equation methods.

As examples, currently we have a research project funded by the UK Engineering and Physical Science Research Council (EPSRC) to develop a hybrid boundary element method to take advantage of the efficiency of asymptotic geometrical approximation in a full-wave boundary element formulation, and computer modelling techniques will be used to underpin the study of future spatial audio rendering in homes and other challenging environments in an EPSRC funded Programme Grant with partners from the BBC, University of Surrey and University of Southampton.

The followings are examples of our current and previous works in this area and selected publications.

Geometrical room acoustics modelling

  • Lam Y.W., "A comparison of three diffuse reflection modelling methods used in room acoustics computer models", J. Acous. Soc. Am. 100(4), p.2181-2192, 1996
  • Lam Y.W., "The dependence of diffusion parameters in a room acoustics prediction model on auditorium sizes and shapes", J. Acous. Soc. Am. 100(4), p.2193-2203, 1996
  • Drumm I. A. and Lam Y. W., "The adaptive beam tracing algorithm", J. Acous. Soc. Am. 107(3), pp.1405-1412, 2000.
  • Lam Y. W., “Issues for Computer Modelling of Room Acoustics in Non-Concert Hall Settings”, Acoust. Sci. & Tech. 26(2), pp.145-155, 2005.

Boundary Element Modelling

  • Lam Y. W., “A boundary integral formulation for the prediction of acoustic scattering from periodic structures”, J. Acous. Soc. Am. 105(2), p.762-769, 1999.
  • Lam Y. W., “A boundary element method for the calculation of noise barrier insertion loss in the presence of atmospheric turbulence”, Applied Acoustics 65(6), pp. 583-603, 2004.
  • Lam Y. W., Hargreaves J.A., “Time domain modelling of room acoustics”, Keynote Speech, Proc. of Acoustics 2012, Nantes, France, pp.595-605, April 2012.
  • Hargreaves J. A., Lam Y. W., “Towards a Full-Bandwidth Numerical Acoustic Model”, Proc. ICA2013, paper 4aAA1, Montreal, June 2013.

Time Domain Boundary Element Modelling

  • Hargreaves, J. (2011). Simulating transient scattering from obstacles with frequency-dependent surface impedance. In Forum Acusticum (pp. 229–234). Aalborg.http://usir.salford.ac.uk/19382/
  • Hargreaves, J., & Cox, T. (2009). A transient boundary element method for acoustic scattering from mixed regular and thin rigid bodies. Acta Acustica United With Acustica, 95(4), 678–689. Retrieved fromhttp://usir.salford.ac.uk/14082/
  • Hargreaves, J. A, & Cox, T. J. (2008). A transient boundary element method model of Schroeder diffuser scattering using well mouth impedance. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 124(5), 2942–51.http://usir.salford.ac.uk/14625/

Finite Element Modelling

  • Kelly L., Lam Y. W., Avis M., ‘The significance of coupling in 3D modelling of acoustic wave propagation in a cavity containing air and porous absorbent’, Proc. COMSOL User Conference, Birmingham (2006)
  • Hedges M. J. D. and Lam Y. W., “Accuracy of Fully Coupled Loudspeaker Simulation Using COMSOL”, Proc. COMSOL User Conference, Milan (2009).

Finite Difference Time Domain Modelling

  • Drumm I., Lam Y. W., “Development and assessment of a finite difference time domain room acoustic prediction model that uses hall data in popular formats”, Proc. Internoise 2007, Paper IN07_022, Istanbul, August 2007;
  • Jeong H. and Lam Y. W., "FDTD modelling of frequency dependent boundary conditions for room acoustics", Proc. 20th International Congress on Acoustics, Paper 488, Sydney, Aug. 2010.
  • Lam Y. W., Jeong H., “Source and boundary modeling in FDTD for room acoustics”, Internoise 2011, Osaka, Sept 2011;
  • Jeong H. and Lam Y. W., “Source implementation to eliminate low-frequency artifacts in finite difference time domain room acoustic simulation”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 131(1): 258–268 (2012);
  • J. Sheaffer, C.J. Webb and B.M. Fazenda. Modelling binaural receivers in finite difference simulation of room acoustics. In: Proceedings of the 21st International Congress on Acoustics (ICA 2013), June 6–12, 2013;
  • Sheaffer, J & Walstijn, M V & Fazenda, B 2014, 'Physical and numerical constraints in source modeling for finite difference simulation of room acoustics', Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 135(1), pp.251-261.

Click the image to play 'Echo Bridge Reflections' - a simulation of how the sound bounces around under Echo Bridge in Newton Upper Falls, Massachusetts. Simulation done by Jonathan Sheaffer, a PhD student at the University of Salford.

Modelling for Outdoor Sound Propagation

  • Lam Y. W., "Ground and Meteorological Effects on Sound Propagation in the Atmosphere - Predictions and Measurements", International Journal of Acoustics and Vibration Vol. 5(3), pp.135-139, 2000.
  • Munt R M, Browne R W, Simpson C, Bradley S, Lam Y W, Kerry G, Beaman R, "Environmental Noise Modelling for UK Military Helicopter Training Operations", Proc. Of American Helicopter Society 59th Forum, 2003.
  • Lam Y. W., Monazzam M. R., “On the modelling of sound propagation over multi-impedance discontinuities using semi-empirical diffraction formulations”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 120(2), pp.686-698, 2006.
  • Lam Y. W., “The significance of temperature gradient on the propagation of noise to high rise buildings in urban cities”, Paper in08_0337, Proc. Internoise 2008, 26-29 October 2008, Shanghai, China.
  • Lam Y. W. “An analytical model for turbulence scattered rays in the shadow zone for outdoor sound propagation calculation”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 125(3), pp.1340-1350, 2009.
  • Hargreaves, J. A, Kendrick, P. K. & Von-Hunerbein, S. Simulating acoustic scattering from atmospheric temperature fluctuations using a k-space method”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 124(5)


Modelling for Acoustical Materials

  • Cox T.J., Lam Y.W., "Prediction and evaluation of the scattering from quadratic residue diffusers", J. Acous. Soc. Am. 95(1), pp.297-305, 1994.
  • Lam Y.W., "The noise transmission through profiled metal cladding, part iii: double skin SRI prediction", Journal of Building Acoustics Vol.2(2), p.403-417, 1996
  • Monazzam M. R. and Lam Y. W., “Performance of Profiled Single Noise Barriers Covered with Quadratic Residue Diffusers”, Applied Acoustics 66, pp.709-730, 2005.

Modelling of Active Noise Control

  • Lim H., Lam Y. W., Utyuzhnikov S. V., Turan A., “Realization of the Difference Potential Method in Active Noise Control”, WESPAC 2006, 26-18 June, 2006, Seoul, South Korea.
  • Lim H., Utyuzhnikov S. V., Lam Y. W., and Turan A., "Multi-domain active sound control and noise shielding", J.Acous.Soc.Am. 129(2), 717-725 (2011)
  • Lam Y. W., Utyuzhnikov S. V., Kelly L., “Difference potential based active noise shielding in three dimensional settings”, J. Acoust. Soc. Am. 131, 3380 (2012).