Module code: TON3012

Module Overview

This module explores the audio engineering topics that are at the forefront of innovation: spatial audio; and low bit-rate coding.

Spatial audio is arguably the last major challenge in audio recording and reproduction – we are still unable to accurately recreate the spatial characteristics of an audio scene. The module takes a perceptually-motivated approach, investigating the psychoacoustic cues that humans use to make sense of the auditory world, and examining how these can be synthesised using loudspeakers or headphones. The assessment gives you an opportunity to apply the theory by experimenting with spatial audio, either via a perceptual experiment or a spatial audio production.

Low bit-rate coding systems are still frequently used to reduce the data rate of audio. The limitations of our auditory perception are examined, and methods to exploit this using requantisation in the time or frequency domain are discussed.

Module provider

Music and Media

Module Leader

MASON Russell (Music & Med)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 6

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

Overall student workload

Workshop Hours: 3

Independent Learning Hours: 119

Lecture Hours: 24

Seminar Hours: 2

Guided Learning: 1

Captured Content: 1

Module Availability

Year long

Prerequisites / Co-requisites

TON1027 Acoustics and Psychoacoustics TON1028 Audio Engineering and Recording Techniques TON2018 Video Engineering

Module content

Indicative content includes:

  • The main psychoacoustic spatial cues used by the human auditory system to understand the environment

  • Methods used to simulate appropriate psychoacoustic spatial cues using loudspeakers and headphones

  • Methods used to code and render spatial audio using loudspeakers and headphones

  • The main components of perceptual audio coding systems, including time-domain and frequency-domain requantisation and methods to limit the audible effects of these

Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Practical based assessment Workshop 20
Coursework Experiment 80

Alternative Assessment


Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy is designed to provide you with the opportunity to demonstrate and develop knowledge and understanding of audio engineering principles (coursework and exam).

Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of:

  • Workshop: assessed workshop (addressing learning outcomes 5 & 6); and

  • Experiment: an experiment examining an aspect of spatial perception, with the results disseminated as a written report (addressing learning outcomes 1 to 4)

Formative  assessment

Formative feedback will be given to you in tutorials, and in the form of regular revision questions in lectures, and in the workshops and practical sessions.


Written feedback will be given on the coursework. Verbal feedback will be given on regular revision questions in lectures.

Module aims

  • To further develop your understanding of spatial audio perception and its application in a range of reproduction systems.
  • To introduce you to perceptual audio coding systems.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
001 Describe the principal auditory spatial cues used by humans to gain an understanding of their audio environment KC
002 Explain how the principal auditory spatial cues can be simulated by a range of spatial audio reproduction methods, including both loudspeaker and headphone reproduction KC
004 Apply your theoretical understanding by designing and evaluating a spatial audio system or production KCP
005 Explain how limitations in human auditory perception can be exploited to allow reduction of data in an imperceptible (or near-imperceptible) manner KC
003 Describe methods used to record, code, and process audio to allow reproduction of spatial audio over loudspeakers or headphones KC
006 Describe and investigate the effect of requantisation in the time or frequency domains, and the methods to limit the audibility of these effects KC

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 spatial audio recording, coding and rendering for loudspeakers and headphones, so that you are able to take advantage of cutting-edge methods and techniques in audio research and production; and

  • develop your knowledge and understanding of low bit-rate audio coding, as an example of applying psychoacoustic understanding and signal processing methods to develop audio solutions.

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;

  • regular listening sessions to experience a range of audio production methods for loudspeaker and headphone based spatial audio;

  • a practical workshop to investigate the effects of time-domain and frequency-domain requantisation; and 

  • coursework assignments that encourage you to experiment with spatial audio techniques and requantisation.





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: TON3012

Other information

Employability: the topics covered in this module are currently in great demand in the audio industry. Significant investment is being made into spatial audio, including fundamental research and development of new products, and recording and remixing audio for new spatial audio formats. Low bit-rate coding methods are still in development, and the understanding of these will aid with the development and usage of these. The knowledge and understanding gained will assist you towards a wider range of current and future career options. 

Sustainability: as part of the theoretical understanding of audio, the topics will also discuss aspects of sustainability in professional audio, such as the importance of backwards compatibility (for example when developing new spatial audio formats).

Programmes this module appears in

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