PhD Studentship Opportunity in Audio for Hearables: Algorithms for Context-aware Rendering at Surrey

Closing Date
26 November 2019

Studentship description

Media content is consumed on-the-move in many different environments. A typical commuter, while listening to music over headphones, might encounter noise levels from quiet residential streets to crowded underground carriages. While the overall volume can be adjusted to compensate for these changes, the resulting loudness can be uncomfortable and long-term exposure is a potential cause of hearing loss. Finer adjustments (e.g., adjusting individual sounds’ relative loudness, tone or perceived location), accounting for the type, position and loudness of other (wanted and unwanted) sounds in the environment, would enable better listening experiences.

“Hearables” – in-ear headphones with built-in microphones and signal processing capability – are well-suited to this task. The InHEAR project (Intelligent Hearables with Environment-Aware Rendering) will use the built-in microphones and signal processing to develop an understanding of external sounds through machine listening, and propose perceptually-motivated audio rendering techniques to maximise the listener’s experience regardless of their current listening environment.

The Institute of Sound Recording (IoSR) is a leading centre for research in psychoacoustic engineering, with world-class facilities and significant funding from research councils and industry. Our work combines elements of acoustics, digital signal processing, psychoacoustics (theoretical and experimental), psychology, sound synthesis, software engineering, statistical analysis and user-interface design, with an understanding of the aesthetics of sound and music.

This PhD is based in IoSR and focuses on the rendering and manipulation of sounds to the benefit of the end user. The student will work closely with another student based in the Centre for Vision, Speech and Signal Processing (CVSSP), and with colleagues at B&O. The two students based at Surrey form part of a larger Bang & Olufsen-led project with external support (awaiting final confirmation) and collaborators at Aalborg University.

Entry requirements

You will have a strong interest in audio and demonstrate a high level of academic achievement in relevant subject areas and a clear aptitude for research. We will need to be happy that you have the necessary background subject knowledge and the necessary research skills to begin your doctoral training.

You will ideally have a Masters in a relevant discipline and will definitely have a 1st or 2:1 Bachelors degree (or equivalent). You will be able to demonstrate excellent mathematical, analytical and computer programming skills. Advantage will be given to applicants with experience in one or more of: mathematics, programming, acoustics, psychoacoustics, signal processing, statistical analysis. Furthermore, you will have excellent research skills evidenced by a significant Bachelors/Masters research project, involving experimental research, appropriate use of the literature and/or computer-based simulations, and a formal dissertation-style report.


The studentship is for 42 months full-time study commencing in January 2020.

In addition to covering UK/EU tuition fees and a tax-free stipend of £15k/year, the student will have access to a generous travel budget (to support attendance at academic conferences, for example) and will have opportunities to undertake research at Bang & Olufsen’s headquarters in Denmark.

How to apply

Applications should be made through the PhD course page. Please mark clearly on your application that you wish to apply for the “InHEAR Project”. Applications will be assessed on a rolling basis.

Closing date for applications 26th November

Application enquiries Philip Coleman, 01483 686622

Posted on 7th November 2019 in Job Opportunities in Acoustics