Professor Bill Davies

School of Science, Engineering and Environment

Photo of Professor Bill Davies

Contact Details

Newton Building - Room 108

Please email for an appointment.



Current positions

Professor of Acoustics and Perception


I research soundscapes, spatial audio, room acoustics and psychoacoustics. I'm interested in human response (perception, cognition) to complex sound environments. I supervise PhDs and post-docs in these areas and I enjoy collaborating on inter-disciplinary projects. I'm happy to hear from prospective PhD students. I used to be Vice-President of the Institute of Acoustics.

Areas of research

Soundscape, Psychoacoustics, Spatial audio, Room acoustics, Environmental noise

Areas of supervision

Soundscape, Psychoacoustics, Spatial audio, Room acoustics, Environmental noise


I currently teach courses to undergraduate and postgraduate students on introductory acoustics, psychoacoustics and room acoustics. I supervise BSc and MSc student dissertations on any topic connected with my research and teaching, but can also supervise on musical acoustics and noise control.

Research Interests

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.

Qualifications and Memberships


  • PhD Room Acoustics, Salford (1992).
  • BSc (Hons), 1st class, Electroacoustics, Salford (1987).


  • Vice-President (International) of the Institute of Acoustics
  • Member, Acoustical Society of America