A groundbreaking new research project has just been officially announced. Known as SCReAM, it comes from Enzo de Sena – Assistant Professor in Audio at the University of Surrey’s Institute of Sound Recording.
Partnering the project are market-leading consumer electronics company Sonos and computer games innovator Electronic Arts. Adrian James Acoustics and Audio Software Development Limited complete the lineup, with backing from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
During the Covid pandemic, many of us spent a lot of time indoors, whether working or relaxing. Perhaps as a result we perceive our home environment as more important than ever. We live in enclosed spaces with sound constantly reflecting around us. This leads to reverberation so we subconsciously use sound to navigate the space around us.
Our homes are full of technology – laptops, televisions and smart home devices – all of which are exposed to reverberation. Such devices are designed to take account of these resonances, and it’s important to be able to predict and control reverberation. This is done by ultilising computer software.
Existing acoustic modelling
Existing room acoustic modelling can suffer from two main limitations. First, different types of software were originally developed from different starting points and for very different purposes. This has led to a very disjointed field of research, which in turn slows down innovation.
Second, each design system has a specific level of accuracy and computational complexity. Some very accurate processes can take days to run. Others run in real-time but may be inaccurate.
A unifying approach
This is where the new research project comes in. It aims to define a new unifying approach to room acoustics. It will take the best of models and scale on demand from one type to another.
The new system will be able to adapt itself in real time. This will create the best possible auditory experience allowed by available computing resources. It will benefit many areas including audio systems, communications, computer games and architectural acoustics.
There are also cost savings to be made for audio software developers. As more powerful machines become available, designers will not need to update their development chains. Electronic equipment such as smart speakers will be able to react more flexibly to room acoustics.
A better sound
Enzo de Sena points out: “research will reduce unwanted echoes, remove acoustic feedback and improve tonal balance”. The ultimate aim of SCReAM is simply to make everyday devices sound better.