Michael J. Price Lab for Digital Humanities

Understanding Urban Soundscapes

Understanding Urban Soundscapes

Charlie Mydlarz

Price Lab Mellon DH Seminar
March 30, 2016 - 12:00–1:30pm

Meyerson Conference Center, Van Pelt Library

The urban sound environment can be, amongst other things: loud, intrusive, exciting and dynamic. As indicated by the large majority of noise complaints registered with the NYC 311 information/complaints line, the urban sound environment has a profound effect on the quality of life of a city’s inhabitants. The traditional method of environmental acoustic monitoring utilizes short term measurement periods using expensive equipment, setup and operated by experienced and costly personnel. The Sounds Of New York City (SONYC) project has built a smart, low-cost, static, acoustic sensor network to accurately sense the urban acoustic environment at the city scale. These devices can be deployed in numerous and varied urban locations for long periods of time, allowing for the collection of longitudinal urban acoustic data.

Human relationships to the soundscapes they experience daily is another important factor in understanding the acoustic environment. Subjective, and its associated objective data from participants soundscapes was gathered using an app based crowd sourced approach in the Sound Around You Project. Amongst other things, this study investigated the motivations behind a person sharing a sonic experience, preferences in sound source type and the underlying dimensions of subjective response to sound environments.


Charlie Mydlarz is a postdoctoral researcher at NYU’s CUSP and the Music and Audio Research Laboratory. He works on the development and implementation of cyberphysical systems for large scale, high resolution soundscape data capture from urban environments with a focus on acoustic sensor development using digital MEMS microphone solutions. He received his BSc in Audio Technology from The University of Salford in 2007 and went on to earn his doctorate in 2013 investigating human relationships to sound environments using mobile and internet technologies. The data collected during his doctoral work was gathered using a large-scale crowd sourced citizen science project utilizing consumer mobile devices and web technologies, which can be explored at soundaroundyou.com. Past research projects also include the influences of sound environments on the attainment of 11-16 year old schoolchildren in England. Charlie’s expertise lies in: acoustics, mobile application development, acoustic ecology, digital signal processing, web development and quantitative data analysis.