Engineering and the Environment

Stephen Elliott

BSc(Hons), PhD, FREng

Primary position:
Professor of Adaptive Systems


The University of Southampton
Professor Stephen Elliott's photo

Steve Elliott graduated with joint honours in physics and electronics from the University of London in 1976 and in 1979 was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Surrey for a thesis on musical acoustics.

After a short period as a research fellow working on acoustic intensity measurement and then as a temporary lecturer at the University of Surrey, he was appointed lecturer at the Institute of Sound and Vibration Research (ISVR) at the University of Southampton, UK, in 1982, under the Science and Engineering Research Council (SERC) “Special Replacement Scheme”. He was made senior lecturer at ISVR in 1988 and Professor of Adaptive Systems in 1994.

He served as Director of the ISVR from 2005 to 2010.

He has authored three books, published over 200 papers in refereed journals, and produced over 500 conference papers and other reports, mainly in the areas of active sound and vibration control, personal audio systems and cochlear mechanics.

Professor Elliott is a Fellow of the Acoustical Society of America, the IEE and IoA.

He was made a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Engineering in 2009.

Honours and Awards

Date Honour/Distinction
1980 Member Acoustical Society of America
1991 Senior Member of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers
1992 Tyndall Medal of the Institute of Acoustics for distinguished work in acoustics (jointly with P A Nelson) 
2000  Fellow Institute of Electrical Engineers
2000 Keith Harris James Prize from Institute of Mechanical Engineers for paper with P.Gardonio, Y‑S.Lee and S.Debost 
2004 Presenter of UKACC Annual lecture "Automatic Control of Sound and Vibration" 
2005 Fellow Institute of Acoustics 
2008 Best poster award at the 10th International Workshop on the Mechanics of Hearing, Keele University (with E. Ku and B. Lineton) 
2009 Fellow Royal academy of Engineering


Research Interests

Professor Elliott's research interests have been mainly concerned with the connections between the physical world and digital signal processing.

The research was originally related to the active control of sound and vibration. This work has resulted in the demonstration of active control in cars, helicopters and propeller aircraft and the authorship of the books "Active Control of Sound" with P.A. Nelson, "Active Control of Vibration" with C.R. Fuller and P.A. Nelson and, most recently, "Signal Processing for Active Control".

The active control research has traditionally involved the reduction of unwanted noise, most recently on luxury yachts as below, but has recently developed to the reproduction of sound signals, such as music, in specific regions of space, so that, for example, the driver of a car can listen to Radio 4, while a child in the back of the car can listen to a Disney DVD.

He is also involved in working on the growing body of work on modelling the mechanics of the cochlea and the functioning of cochlear implants, as below. This is important not only for communication and speech processing systems, but also in order to help understand the causes of hearing impairment and how they might be overcome.

Active noise control investigation

Luxury yacht on which active noise control is being investigated

Active noise control investigation

Model of structure of inner ear

A model of the structure of the inner ear into which a cochlear implant has been inserted which is used to predict the generated voltage field

Model of structure of inner ear

Primary research group:  Signal Processing and Control Group

Research projects

Active Control of Engine and Road Noise for a Green City Car

The use of active noise control in cars may allow manufacturers to remove traditional passive acoustic treatments and thus reduce weight and improve fuel efficiency.

Active Control of Sound and Vibration on a Luxury Yacht

Traditional passive noise and vibration techniques can be complemented by active control systems and improve the acoustic environment in luxury yachts.

Cochlear modelling of distortion product otoacoustic emissions

Compensation filters for feedback control units with proof-mass electrodynamic actuators

Control of non-linear vibration using an iterative Sherman-Morrison receptance method

Decentralised control units for vibration control in cars

Directive Warning Sounds for Electric Vehicles

The generation of independent listening zones in a car cabin would allow each occupant to listen to a different audio programme without the constraints of headphones.

Generating a Personal Listening Zone from a Mobile Device

Mobile audio devices are widely used in public spaces and reducing the noise nuisance that the pose can be achieved using loudspeaker arrays.

Generation of Multiple Independent Listening Zones in a Vehicle Cabin

The generation of independent listening zones in a car cabin would allow each occupant to listen to a different audio programme without the constraints of headphones.

Modelling the micromechanics of the cochlea

Modelling the voltage distribution due to a cochlear implant

Power modelling for cochlear implants

Prediction of ultrasonic wave propagation in aircraft structures for crack monitoring

The effect of active noise control on the sound quality in cars

The modelling of hearing impairment and the design of an array-based hearing aid

The research of wave motion in coupled system by using finite element method

Modal and multichannel feedback control of road noise in a car

Waves in loudspeaker cones

Hybrid active and passive structural noise control

In this project the feasibility of using active and passive means of vibration control in aerospace structures is investigated. In particular, attention has been focused on controlling vibration transmission through light weight satellite structures at medium frequencies. The structure under test is a 4.5 meter long satellite boom consisting of 10 identical bays with equilateral triangular cross sections. This structure is typical of those that might be used in space telescopes, space stations or synthetic aperture radar systems. Such a structure is typically used to support sensitive instruments in precise alignments spaced tens of metres apart. While a great deal of work has been done on this problem at low frequencies, relatively little has been achieved to date at medium frequencies (here taken to be between 150 Hz and 250 Hz). Nonetheless, this is of importance to new space missions.

Teaching Responsibilities

Title Module Code Programme Role
Active Control of Sound and Vibration ISVR6046 MSc Sound and Vibration Studies Lecturer
Electroacoustics ISVR3017 Acoustical Engineering, Acoustics and Music Coordinator
Electroacoustics ISVR6048 MSc Sound and Vibration Studies Coordinator
Linear Systems ISVR1007 BEng/MEng Acoustical Engineering, BSc Acoustics and Music Coordinator
Musical Instrument Acoustics ISVR3007 Acoustical Engineering, Acoustics and Music Lecturer


Professor Stephen Elliott
Engineering and the Environment
University of Southampton
SO17 1BJ

Room Number: 13/3059

Telephone: (023) 8059 2384
Facsimile: (023) 8059 3190