Software could simulate sound of buildings through a speaker

UK researchers are hoping to improve the way concert-hall designers can demonstrate how buildings will sound before they’re been built.

A team from Salford and Reading universities, working with Arup and the BBC, has received £250,000 to improve acoustic modelling software that can simulate the sound of a building through a special speaker system.

The new program will solve problems with existing software by modelling sound as a wave rather than a beam and replicating mid- and high-pitch sounds that currently require excessively high computational power, as well as allowing designers to make real-time adjustments to the model.

Research co-investigator Dr Jonathan Hargreaves from Salford University said in a statement: ‘This technology is currently used in large-scale projects to give the client an idea of what the finished building will sound like. We feel that, with new algorithms, we can improve this experience dramatically and make it much more realistic.

‘In time, we hope that we are on a path where this modelling can be cost effective enough to use on smaller buildings such as homes or schools or accurate enough to be used for town-planning purposes.’

By the end of the three-year project, the researchers hope to have a model that creates an accurate representation of a building’s sound for all conceivable scenarios without an unacceptable increase in processing requirements.

In particular, they hope that changes to small parts of the building will only require changes to small parts of the computer model.

They will also develop a new hardware interface that will connect the loudspeaker system directly to the computer model.