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, 7 full-time faculty members, 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. BYU also has a water tank for underwater acoustics measurements. 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, hydrophones, 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, Raytheon Technologies and a variety of acoustical and engineering consulting firms. Graduate students are able to publish papers in high-ranking peer-reviewed journals and many undergraduate students also achieve this goal. 

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. Funding has been from NSF. 

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

Interior Noise Field Characterization. Measurement and analysis of properties of enclosed sound fields. 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. 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. Projects have included Air Force-funded F-35 measurements and blast noise shock-wave measurements.

Underwater Acoustics. Large arrays of hydrophones in the ocean can be used to locate acoustic sources. The reliability of these localization algorithms depends on the degree to which the ocean environment is correctly parameterized in the models. Machine learning is needed to correctly tackle this problem in real-time. Funding from Office of Naval Research.

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. 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. 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. 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. Funding has come from Caterpillar and a local loudspeaker manufacturing company.

Nondestructive Evaluation. Localization of cracks and other defects in structures. Funding from Los Alamos National Laboratory.