news
Published: 30 October 2013

Director of CVSSP wins £5.4 million grant to deliver step-change in at-home audio quality

A five year EPSRC Programme Grant has been awarded to Surrey’s Professor Adrian Hilton for the development of audio technology allowing listeners to enjoy a ‘live’ experience at home or on the move.

While the latest 3D sound technology can give listeners the experience of ‘being there’ at a live event, such as the Proms or the Olympic 100m, until now this has required highly controlled listening spaces and loudspeaker set-ups – for example in cinemas. The new spatial audio work led by Professor Hilton, Director of Surrey’s Centre for Vision, Speech & Signal Processing (CVSSP), aims to bring this experience to the general public, enabling immersive audio experiences at home or on the move.

The five-year project, conducted in collaboration with the University of Southampton and University of Salford, together with the BBC and UK industry, is being funded by an EPSRC Programme Grant worth £5.4 million.

Although visual content in film, TV and games has undergone a transformation from 2D to 3D in the past decade, enabling greater visual engagement and ultimately higher cinema box office sales, the development of 3D audio content is less evolved. Existing technology does not meet the needs of the majority of consumers who want to experience live events, without having to set up loudspeakers in precise locations around their living rooms, or to control their room acoustics.

The central challenge of Professor Hilton’s project will be to introduce a radical new listener-centred approach to audio, enabling 3D sound production to adapt to non-ideal listening spaces. This will be achieved by pioneering novel audio-visual signal processing solutions, allowing sound reproduction to be adapted to loudspeaker configuration, room acoustics and listener locations.

Professor Hilton says: “This project will for the first time bring together leading vision and audio researchers to pioneer a new generation of listener centred 3D sound system, which creates the experience of being at a live concert or sports match from the comfort of your own living room.”

The project team will be a collaboration between the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences and the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, bringing together experts in audio-visual signal procesing from the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (including Dr Philip Jackson and Dr Wenwu Wang) with experts in psychoacoustics from Surrey’s Institute of Sound Recording (including Dr Tim Brookes and Dr Russell Mason).