Signal Processing and Communications Laboratory

Department of Engineering

Phillip Richardson

Background - Research - Publications

Position: Signal Processing and Communications Laboratory IT Manager

Office Location: BE3-01

Telephone: +44 1223 330289

E-mail: pr374 AT cam DOT ac DOT uk

Dept. of Engineering,
University of Cambridge,
Trumpington Street,


I am the computer officer in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge where I am responsible for computing support within the Signal Processing and Communications Laboratory in the Division of Information Engineering.

My role within the group extends to Local Safety Coordinator, Display Screen Equipment (DSE) assessor and Fire Warden.

Research Background

I received my PhD in the tuning of percussive instruments from Anglia Ruskin University in 2011, and my undergraduate degree in Audio and Music Technology in 2004. Before joining Cambridge University in 2012, I held a lecturer position in the Department of Computing & Technology at Anglia Ruskin University.

Research Interests

  • Acoustics of musical instruments:

Currently my research is focused on membranophones and the modern drum kit. The main aim of the current research is to quantify the relationships between the construction and tuning of the instrument with the perceived tonal and playing qualities. My work has used modal analysis to quantify a number of acoustic factors related to drum setup and tuning. This is concerned with the evaluation of a drum’s free vibration once excitation has occurred. By applying an understanding of the mechanics of the acoustical function of these instruments, various acoustical parameters that influence the perceived sound quality of cylindrical membranophons have been identified.

  • Dynamic range and loudness perception of commercial music

Research analysing the causes, effects and future expectations of the well know loudness war and significant reductions in audio quality given the common trend of using heavy dynamic range processing.

Selected Publications

  • Richardson, P. G. M., Toulson, E. R. & Nunn, D. J. E. (2012) – Analysis and manipulation of the modal ratios of cylindrical drums, The Journal of The Acoustical Society of America, vol. 131, issue 1, p. 907. [online here]

  • Richardson, P. G. M. & Toulson, E. R. (2011) – Drum tuning education, The Journal on The Art of Record Production, Issue 5, July 2011. [online here]

  • Richardson, P. G. M. & Toulson, E. R.(2010) – Clearing the Drumhead, Proceedings Reproduced Sound Conference, Cardiff, Wales, November 2010. [PDF]

  • Toulson, E. R., Cuny-Cringy, C., Robinson, P. & Richardson, P. G. M. (2008) - The perception and importance of drum tuning in live performance and music production, Proceedings of The Art of Record Production Conference, Lowell, Massachusetts, November 2008. [online here]

PhD Thesis

  • Richardson, P. G. M. (2010). Acoustic analysis and tuning of cylindrical membranophones. PhD. Anglia Ruskin University.