Prof Bill Davies

School of Science, Engineering & Environment

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Known as

Bill Davies

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Areas of Research

Human response to sound lies at the centre of most acoustic problems. The goal of my research is to understand human response to real-world, complex sounds. In the early years of my career, this was mainly done using controlled laboratory tests. Later on, I started to collaborate with other disciplines and introduce qualitative methods for more realism. In the last 15 years, much of my work has been through the paradigm of the soundscape, which seeks to capture and explain the entirety of human response to complex sound environments. This has necessitated developing complex models and interdisciplinary methodologies. Applications include better design of outdoor and indoor environments, smarter noise legislation, and novel audio reproduction systems.

In soundscape, I led the Positive Soundscape Project. This produced a novel system to assess soundscapes; the first neurological validation of soundscape assessment scales; a concept and method for soundscape simulation; a special issue of the journal Applied Acoustics; and an influential demonstration of interdisciplinary research in acoustics. Soundscape work since then has included development of soundscape synthesis and composition in different modalities (including AR & VR) and critiques of listening models.

In spatial audio, I led work on perception of complex auditory scenes on the project S3A: Future Spatial Audio. This produced new findings on object-based sound perception which were incorporated in project outputs like the VISR production tools, the VR film The Turning Forest and the BBC’s ongoing work in Media Device Orchestration.

In signal processing, I led perceptual work on the Making Sense of Sounds project. We developed a dataset of everyday sounds, a new taxonomy of everyday sound perception and used this to improve machine listening systems.

In psychoacoustics, I have supervised research on the perception of pitch, reverberation, space, speech and bass and on everyday sound. My students have developed models of multidimensional pitch, salience and spaciousness in reproduced sound.

I’ve recently developed an interest in the new concept of aural diversity. This seeks to extend the medical model of hearing loss to a model of aural diversity which encompasses the very many hearing (and listening) differences between individuals and groups. I’m particularly interested in how autistic people process sound.

I’m always happy to hear from prospective PhD students who would like to work on similar topics.

Areas of Supervision

Soundscape, aural diversity, psychoacoustics, room acoustics, environmental noise, spatial audio, sound quality, acoustics