Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Electrical, Computer and Telecommunications Engineering


The experience and utility of personal sound is a highly sought after characteristic of shared spaces. Personal sound allows individuals, or small groups of individuals, to listen to separate streams of audio content without external interruption from a third-party. The desired effects of personal acoustic environments can also be areas of minimal sound, where quiet spaces facilitate an effortless mode of communication. These characteristics have become exceedingly difficult to produce in busy environments such as cafes, restaurants, open plan offices and entertainment venues. The concept of, and the ability to provide, spaces of such nature has been of significant interest to researchers in the past two decades.

This thesis answers open questions in the area of personal sound reproduction using loudspeaker arrays, which is the active reproduction of soundfields over extended spatial regions of interest. We first provide a review of the mathematical foundations of acoustics theory, single zone and multiple zone soundfield reproduction, as well as background on the human perception of sound. We then introduce novel approaches for the integration of psychoacoustic models in multizone soundfield reproductions and describe implementations that facilitate the efficient computation of complex soundfield synthesis. The psychoacoustic based zone weighting is shown to considerably improve soundfield accuracy, as measured by the soundfield error, and the proposed computational methods are shown capable of providing several orders of magnitude better performance with insignificant effects on synthesis quality. Consideration is then given to the enhancement of privacy and quality in personal sound zones and in particular on the effects of unwanted sound leaking between zones. Optimisation algorithms, along with a priori estimations of cascaded zone leakage filters, are then established so as to provide privacy between the sound zones without diminishing quality. Simulations and real-world experiments are performed, using linear and part-circle loudspeaker arrays, to confirm the practical feasibility of the proposed privacy and quality control techniques. The experiments show that good quality and confidential privacy are achievable simultaneously. The concept of personal sound is then extended to the active suppression of speech across loudspeaker boundaries. Novel suppression techniques are derived for linear and planar loudspeaker boundaries, which are then used to simulate the reduction of speech levels over open spaces and suppression of acoustic reflections from walls. The suppression is shown to be as effective as passive fibre panel absorbers. Finally, we propose a novel ultrasonic parametric and electrodynamic loudspeaker hybrid design for acoustic contrast enhancement in multizone reproduction scenarios and show that significant acoustic contrast can be achieved above the fundamental spatial aliasing frequency.