Professor Trevor Cox
School of Science, Engineering and Environment
I carry out research, teaching and commercial activities in acoustic engineering, focusing on room acoustics, signal processing and perception. I was an EPSRC Senior Media Fellow and have presented 18 documentaries for BBC radio. I am a former President of the Institute of Acoustics (IOA). I was awarded the prestigious Tyndall Award by the IOA as well as their award for Promoting Acoustics to the Public.
Areas of research
Acoustics, Room Acoustics
Areas of supervision
Room acoustics, acoustics of music, noise control and projects.
I carry out research in performance room acoustics, investigating how room conditions can be improved for good speech communication, and quality music production and reproduction. I have been, or am, principal investigator on five EPSRC projects concerned with room acoustics. The results from GR/L13124 fed directly into ISO 17497-2:2012. GR/L34396 developed an understanding of a new sound absorbing mechanism. GR/N39685 concerned room acoustic active diffusers. EP/G009791/1 examined the acoustics of secondary schools.
I have worked extensively on surface diffuser and absorbers. I have co-authored a research book which is now in its second edition (Acoustic Absorbers and Diffusers, Spon Press, 2004 & 2009). I pioneered the concept of optimised diffusers to help solve the dilemma of getting correct visual and acoustic design. My designs can be found in listening rooms (Sony M1, New York), cinemas (Cinema, Seattle) and concert halls (Hummingbird Centre, Toronto). I worked as a consultant for the world’s largest manufacturer of diffusing products, RPG Diffusor Systems Inc for over a decade. I serve as an acoustic expert for international standard organizations and am convener of ISO Working Group WG25. These are concerned with measures for diffusion/scattering.
I specialise in blind signal processing methods to assess human response to sounds and to model acoustics. This work is encapsulated within EPSRC grant EP/J013013/1 which is investigating user generated content. The project is developing an understanding of how recording errors are perceived and developing algorithms for automatically evaluating audio quality from the poor recording.
I use both qualitative methods (focus groups, interviews, sound-walks) and quantitative methods (perceptual testing in laboratories and over the Internet) to explore responses to sounds from products (such as washing machines), in outdoor spaces (such as cities) and various sound types (such as horrible sounds). I was investigator on a project concerning sustainability and the 24 hour city, and was the instigator and Director of the EPSRC Ideas Factory on Noise. Other perceptual work includes looking at product sound quality testing for the DTI and running a mass participation website to find the worst sound in the world.
For 15 years, I have been communicating acoustic engineering to the public, working on projects worth more than £1 million. I was a finalist at Famelab, an ‘X Factor-style’ competition to find science communicators for television. I have been involved in projects to produce teaching resources, the latest having reached more than a quarter of a million pupils. I have developed and presented science shows seen by 15,000 children, including appearances in London at the Royal Albert Hall, the Purcell Rooms at the South Bank Centre and the Royal Institution. My research has attracted worldwide news coverage in stories such as ‘Does a duck’s quack echo?’. I have appeared in features on BBC1, Teachers TV, Discovery and National Geographic channels, and as an expert in news items on a variety of television and radio programmes.
I have presented science documentaries for BBC radio including Sounds of Science; Life’s Soundtrack; Sound Architecture; Save Our Sounds; (which won a Radio Academy Award); Science vs Stradivarius; The Pleasure of Noise; World Musical Instruments, and Green Ears. I was a co-originator and judge of BBC Radio 4’s So You Want To Be A Scientist?, a competition to find Britain’s best amateur scientist. Radio biography
I have written articles for New Scientist (on city sounds, acoustic archaeology and Christmas muzak) and have authored a popular science book on Sound for Bodley Head and W W Norton due out in 2014.