Module code: TON2014

Module Overview

This module is intended to provide you with a solid grounding in electro-acoustics with emphasis on the study of loudspeakers and microphones. It covers the physical principles underpinning the majority of microphone and loudspeaker designs, allowing you to more fully understand the practical implications of common specifications. The module also introduces the use of single degree of freedom modelling, enabling you to mathematically model the performance of microphones or loudspeaker drivers, and to investigate the effect of modifying transducer designs. 

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

MASON Russell (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 5

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Independent Learning Hours: 102

Lecture Hours: 44

Laboratory Hours: 2

Guided Learning: 1

Captured Content: 1

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

  • TON1023 Audio Signal Analysis
  • TON1024 Computer Systems
  • TON1029 Audio Electronics 1

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • Use of the single degree of freedom model in electro-acoustic devices

  • Deriving mathematical expressions for microphone and loudspeaker behaviour

  • Calculation of loudspeaker and microphone characteristics from physical parameters

  • Transduction mechanisms in loudspeakers

  • Operating principles of moving coil, electrostatic, ribbon and horn loudspeakers

  • Design of a loudspeaker using commercially available parts

  • Analysis of results of experimental data produced in class

  • Performance limitations of typical loudspeaker designs

  • Principles of operation of pressure, pressure gradient, combination, condenser, moving coil, and ribbon microphones.

  • Microphone specifications.

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Coursework Microphone assessment 20
Coursework Loudspeaker assessment 30
Examination Examination (2 hours) 50

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate academic writing skills, solution of calculation based problems, and application of theory to a design proposal.

Summative  Assessment

  • Two written coursework assessments based on microphones (addresses learning outcomes 1-5) and loudspeakers (addresses learning outcomes 6-10); and

  • 2-hour examination - a written paper given under exam conditions (addresses learning outcomes 1-9).

Formative  assessment

Formative assessment and feedback will be given to you in tutorials and throughout lectures and practicals, and in the form of regular revision questions in lectures.


Written feedback will be given on the coursework assignments. You will receive verbal feedback on your practical work throughout the module, particularly in lectures and practicals, and in the form of regular revision questions in lectures.

Module aims

  • To develop your understanding of the principles of operation of common transducers (microphones and loudspeakers), so that you can understand physical limitations and compromises in their design, and therefore get the most out of them in practical professional situations.
  • To introduce to you and allow you to put into practice single degree of freedom modelling to calculate and predict the operation of an audio transducer.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe the principles of operation of pressure, pressure gradient, combination, switchable and variable-output microphones KC
002 Describe the design of condenser, moving coil, and ribbon microphones KC
003 Describe and explain microphone specifications KCP
004 Mathematically describe the performance of a variety of microphones KC
005 Use mathematical modelling to investigate the effect of changing an aspect of microphone design KC
006 Describe the transduction mechanisms found in loudspeakers KC
007 Describe the operating principles of moving coil and electrostatic loudspeakers KC
008 Discuss the performance limitations of typical loudspeaker designs KCP
009 Mathematically describe the performance of a loudspeaker unit KC
010 Demonstrate logical problem-finding skills T

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to:

  • develop your knowledge and understanding of the principles of audio transducers, which you will make use of and build on in subsequent modules and throughout a professional career in audio;

  • develop your ability to mathematically model an audio system and determine design compromises which are inevitable in any audio system; and

  • develop your skills in implementing mathematical models in computer-based software.

The learning and teaching methods include:

  • regular lectures in which cover the theoretical background to each of the topics covered – the small cohort allows plenty of opportunity for you to ask questions to help you to develop your understanding;

  • a loudspeaker measurement laboratory session that allows you to apply the theoretical understanding to professional audio practice; and

  • coursework assignments that encourage you to further investigate the theoretical topics.


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list

Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: TON2014

Other information

Digital capabilities: the module develops your theoretical understanding of the design of transducers, including how these can be modelled mathematically and simulated using computer-based tools, allowing you to predict the performance of microphones and loudspeakers. As part of the coursework assignments, you will also develop skills in: implementing complex-valued calculations of loudspeaker and microphone responses in software; and tools for creating reports and diagrams.

Employability: the knowledge and skills developed within this module are the fundamentals of a successful career in the audio industry. The study of the principles of transducers, and the compromises involved in the designs of microphones and loudspeakers will aid you in making use of these products in professional audio. The understanding of transducer design can be applied to a wide range of audio design problems. These will give you a thorough understanding of the theoretical basis of each, as well as introducing professional concepts of their usage.

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BSc (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module
Music and Sound Recording (Tonmeister) BMus (Hons)(YEAR LONG) Year-long Compulsory A weighted aggregate mark of 40% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2025/6 academic year.