BYU Acoustics Research Group

Student playing trombone in the BYU anechoic chamber

The Acoustics Research Group (ARG) at Brigham Young University maintains the largest university-based acoustics and vibrations research facility in the intermountain west and one of the largest in the western United States. Currently, 5 full-time faculty members, 1 part-time faculty member, 10 graduate students, and approximately 15 undergraduate students from Physics and Mechanical Engineering combine to form the group. One goal of the ARG is to provide students with a broad education in acoustics, vibration, and signal analysis that consists of both theoretical and experimental training. A second goal is to continue to be a state-of-the-art research institution in acoustics. Below is summarized some aspects of our program, including research areas and current projects.

Academic Programs

Students currently can receive specialized training in acoustics at both the undergraduate and graduate levels while earning BS, MS, and PhD degrees in physics and engineering. In addition to senior-level coursework and an advanced laboratory methods class that teaches data acquisition, spectral analysis, and data interpretation, undergraduate students often take signal analysis, fluid mechanics, and other courses. At the graduate level, there are five core courses – four within physics and one within mechanical engineering – that teach the mathematical underpinnings of acoustics and vibration, as well as modeling skills, structural radiation, active noise control, and other advanced topics.


BYU has two fully anechoic and one hemianechoic chamber and two coupled reverberation chambers for acoustical testing. In addition, vibration isolation tables and scanning laser Doppler vibrometers (1D and 3D) are used for structural testing. The ARG has hundreds of channels of high-fidelity data acquisition capability and 100+ Type 1 microphones as well as other specialty dynamic pressure gages, accelerometers, and other transducers. BYU also has a large amount of equipment for making outdoor sound measurements and computer-controlled positioning systems for high-resolution, automated measurements.


BYU has a long-standing tradition of mentored research activities and graduates take positions at prominent institutions, sometimes after receiving an additional degree at another top acoustics or related program. Employers have included: Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, Motorola, Penn State Applied Research Laboratory, Air Force Research Laboratory, Naval Air Command, Bose, Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Army Research Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratory, Caterpillar, Starkey Laboratories, Apple, JBL Professional, and a variety of acoustical and engineering consulting firms. Graduate students are expected to publish in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals and many undergraduate students also achieve this goal. Since 2013, more than 15 different students have contributed to a published paper.

Research Areas

Example research areas are included below.

Acoustical Measurements and Analysis. Measurement capabilities include indoor and outdoor in-situ measurements, as well as measurements of noise sources that can be made in ARG anechoic and reverberation chambers. BYU has developed new methods for making structural and acoustical energy-based measurements and has current NSF funding in this area.

Structural Vibrations and Acoustics. Measurement and/or modeling the vibrational and sound radiation properties of a variety of structures. Recent funding has been from NSF.

Interior Noise Field Characterization. Measurement and analysis of properties of enclosed sound fields. Current funding is from NIH, related to the characterization of classroom acoustics and the impact on teacher vocal health.

Characterization of Shock Waves in High-amplitude Noise. Study of the properties of nonlinear sound fields and the sources that produce them. Recent funding has been from Air Force Research Laboratory, Office of Naval Research, and NASA.

Outdoor Sound Propagation. Measurement and modeling of atmospheric sound propagation in variable conditions, including wind and turbulence. Recent projects have included Air Force-funded F-35 measurements and blast noise shock-wave measurements.

Acoustic Signal Processing. Advanced beamforming, acoustical holography, time reversal, and other source characterization methods. Funding has been from Office of Naval Research, Air Force Research Laboratory, and NSF.

Environmental and Community Noise. Measurement of the impact of noise sources on surrounding communities. Current funding has come from Air Force Research Laboratory.

Noise Control. Characterization of effectiveness of noise control solutions. Development of both passive and active noise control solutions for a variety of problems. Recent funding has come from Caterpillar and other industry sponsors.

Human Perception of Sound. Measurement and analysis of acoustical data to determine impact of sound source characteristics, including sound quality, on human perception. Current projects include determining human impact of jet crackle.

Electroacoustic Transducer Design. Design and development of sound generation and sound sensing transducers for a variety of applications. Recent funding has come from Caterpillar and a local loudspeaker manufacturing company.

Nondestructive Evaluation. Localization of cracks and other defects in structures. Recent collaboration has been with Los Alamos.