A groundbreaking new research project has recently been 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.
Notwithstanding the Covid pandemic, most of us spend a huge amount of our lives indoors, whether we are working or relaxing. We live in enclosed spaces with sound constantly reflecting around us, leading to reverberation. We subconsciously use sound to navigate the space around us, and if it is absent we notice the difference.
Technology such as laptops, televisions and smart home devices are also exposed to reverberation. These 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 creating acoustic models.
Current acoustic models
Existing room acoustic models suffer from two main limitations. First, they 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 model has a specific level of accuracy and computational complexity. Some very accurate models can take days to run. Others run in real-time but may be inaccurate.
A unifying solution
This is where the new research project comes in – SCalable Room Acoustic Model (SCReAM). It aims to define a new unifying room acoustic model. It will take the best of all modelling types and scale on demand from one type to another.
Real time adaptation
The new model will be able to adapt 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 build a more flexible model of room acoustics.
A better sound
Enzo de Sena points out that the research will reduce unwanted echoes, remove acoustic feedback and improve tonal balance. The ultimately aim of SCReAM is simply to make everyday devices sound better – something for which we as acousticians all strive.