SIAL Sound Studios

SIAL Sound Studios

Glass circles on facade of design hub building

The Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) Sound Studios are devoted to auditory-based research, teaching and practice.

The studios are home to some of Australia’s most progressive acoustic design, sound performance and soundscape research and design practitioners. Our practice draws upon architecture, sound design, composition, acoustics, computer science and performance.

The Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) Sound Studios are home to numerous research and software projects.

Project support, industry and academic partners

Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory (SIAL) Sound Studios' project support, industry and academic partners


Research projects:

Auditory city

Auditory city was a free series of spatial music concerts produced by SIAL Sound Studios and performed in Melbourne’s city centre.


Barrett Portrait Concert

In this special once-only event, Speak Percussion and RMIT's SIAL Sound Studios present the work of Richard Barrett, one of UK’s most impressive composers.


Black of the Star

In collaboration with Speak Percussion, a performance of Gerard Grisey’s Black of the Star (1989-1990) scored for six percussionist surrounding the audience and recordings of pulsars.


Bundoora Spine Soundscape System

The Bundoora Soundscape System was installed as part of RMIT’s Bundoora Pedestrian Spine project, a walk way between a main road through reclaimed wetlands.


CitySounds 1: a community soundscape survey

CitySounds was a community soundscape survey built into a games engine


CitySounds 2.0: An acoustic design resource

CitySounds 2.0 is an interactive acoustic design resource, providing design information for architects, builders, developers and residents on acoustic design techniques for residential premises.


Design Hub lunchtime concerts

Presented by SIAL Sound Studios, this sound workshop and performance was the pilot event for a monthly series of spatial sound performances.



An auditory spatial performance presented by SIAL Sound Studios and Chamber Made Opera.


Melbourne Recital Centre Electroacoustic Concert Series 2009

SIAL Sound Studios presented five concerts in the Melbourne Recital Centre in 2009.


Sites-of-respite research: A scoping exercise in acoustic ecology

'Sites of respite' details a research scoping exercise on acoustic ecology completed at SIAL Sound Studios in 2010.


The Slow Floor

The Slow Floor is a pressure-sensitive surface mapped to a rich interactive sound response.


Sound Bites City

Sound Bites City was the inaugural exhibition of the RMIT Sound Art Collection.


Speak Emerging Artist Workshop

The Emerging Artists Program was a collaboration with Richard Barrett and Speak Percussion.


The Spatial Ensemble

Three PhD candidates will investigate diverse musical instrument resonance to integrate with new sound spatialisation strategies for public concerts.


Spectrum concert series

Spectrum is a series of multi-channel electroacoustic concerts which showcase the work of researchers, associate artists and students within SIAL Sound Studios.


The striated soundscape

The installation 'Revoicing the striated soundscape' creates a sonic space in which air-conditioners speak, chant and sing to passers-by.


TEIMU (the garden of dreams)

This research maps the spatial and aural elements of five seminal examples of Japanese garden design.


Urban Electroacoustic soundscape system research

Since the early 1990s, four large scale multi-channel soundscape systems and a permanent multi-channel sonic artwork have been established in Melbourne’s CBD.


Software projects:

Diffusion software

This research project involves the curation, production and presentation of spatial music events using large-scale sound diffusion systems.


MAP: Multi-channel audio player

MAP is an experimental platform for presenting multi-channel audio material.


WasP software project

WasP is an interactive performance environment for multichannel spatial soundscape composition, curation and design.


SIAL Sound Studios offers electives, sound based design studios and design intensives.

These electives and sound based design studios are offered across all programs in the School of Architecture and Urban Design (Industrial Design, Landscape, Interior, Architecture) and the design intensives are offered as part of the SIAL Master of Design Innovation and Technology.

The electives listed below are offered at undergraduate and postgraduate levels and can be taken as external subjects through Single courses.


Soundscape Studies

Course guide

This is a course of study for students from diverse disciplines, to investigate the nexus of listener experience, aural cultural and acoustic environments. The Soundscape Studies elective is designed to assure a common knowledge and skills set of students who are considering future work in the sound studios, and at early stages of post-graduate research. The elective will draw on a range of knowledge from discrete disciplines associated with sound, listening and acoustic environments.

Spatial Sound Composition and Diffusion

Course guide

This course will provide a practice based learning context where participants investigate complex spatial sound composition and diffusion using the SIAL Sound Diffusion System. For performances, the system currently includes around 22 loudspeakers. A smaller array is installed in the Sound Studios and available to participants undertaking this elective for course activities, experiments, and workshops. This course comprises lectures, listening based course work and individual studio time, so participants may conduct their own creative endeavours investigating spatial sound experience in ’sound-only’ contexts such as concerts, digital media, and mixed mode contexts such as surround sound for film and games and other real-world scenarios not mediated by digital media.

Spatial Sound Modelling and Ambisonic Modelling

Course guide: Spatial Sound Modelling
Course guide: Ambisonic Modelling

This is a course of study for students from diverse disciplines seeking to engage with immersive sonic environments through ambisonic modeling techniques. Ambisonics is a method of reproducing a recorded or synthesised sound field to create the illusion of hearing a true three-dimensional acoustic environment. As a result, ambisonics can be used to support a variety of professional and research based applications including; investigations into acoustic environments of real or imagined spaces, describing the acoustic ecology of landscape design and built environments, support virtual walkthroughs of urban interiors, visual installation work, surround sound gaming, film and animation and interaction design.

Masters and PhD by research may be undertaken in the SIAL Studios.


The SIAL Studios are based in RMIT University’s Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory, which is part of the School of Architecture and Urban Design. SIAL is a facility for innovation in transdisciplinary design research and education. It embraces a broad range of investigative modes, involving both highly speculative and industry linked projects. SIAL is concerned with the integration of technical, theoretical and social concerns as part of its innovation agenda. High-end computing, modelling and communication tools associated with disparate disciplines are combined with traditional production techniques.

Researchers are engaged in a wide variety of projects that collaboratively disturb artificial distinctions between the physical and virtual, digital and analogue, scientific and artistic, instrumental and philosophical. While relevant research involves an extensive breadth of technological developments in areas such as Multimedia, Soundscape Systems, Mechatronics, Computer Graphics and Interfaces, Materials technology, Manufacturing processes, Collaborative Virtual Environments, Animation, Computer Games, Virtual Reality Facilities, GIS and on-line environments, SIAL does not focus on any of these systems or realms of technology per se. Rather, it interrogates the relationships these areas foster for cross-disciplinary production.

Application requirements

Applicants who wish to undertake Masters or PhD by research in the Studios will have undergraduate or Masters qualifications in music composition or performance, electroacoustic music, sound design or other design disciplines. Applications for entry into research programs typically close in mid-October every year (exact date TBC). Applications will be accepted after this time if there are places available.

Applicants should first send a draft research topic – 1 x A4 page to

The research environment

The research environment of the SIAL Sound Studios is open to postgraduates from design, architecture, music and sound backgrounds. Applicants must have intermediate to advanced skills in studio production to realise their projects. Researchers within the Studios are internationally recognised for their contributions to sound design, electroacoustic performance practise, acoustic ecology and design research. Post-graduate supervision is activated through weekly meetings, industry projects, local and commonwealth funded research, the Studio's seminar series, and the Graduate Research Conference of the School of Architecture and Urban Design.

The research environment is primarily articulated through practice-based research. Regular opportunities for postgraduates to realise projects in the public domain are provided, including access to large-scale urban soundscape systems, smaller university soundscape systems, and spatial performances using the SIAL Sound Studio’s 32-channel sound diffusion system.

The postgraduates will contribute to the larger projects through discrete projects related to their own research. As a guide only research projects should consider:

  • Urban soundscape designs for multi-channel systems
  • Evaluating urban soundscape designs and urban soundscape planning models
  • Software projects for spatialised performance, installations or gesture control
  • Spatialised performance/electroacoustic performance practise
  • Analysis of contemporary spatial compositions and installation practice
  • Integrating 3D design softwares within spatial sound designs
  • Experimental acoustic design

Research topics outside of this list should be discussed with Lawrence Harvey.

A new facility was completed for SIAL Sound Studios in The Design Hub in 2013 and currently houses n-space and The Pod.

Design Hub, RMIT University

SIAL Sound Studios occupied spaces in building 9 from 2004 to 2013. It is now located in its new facility in The Design Hub and currently houses n-space and The Pod.

Nspace is used for lectures, workshops, seminars, rehearsals and production on a 16 channel system. A ceiling-grid holds speakers and can be used for mounting a range of small equipment. The system is configured for stereo, multichannel and ambisonic playback.

The Pod can have up to 16 (currently 12) speakers mounted around and above a central listening and production area. The Pod by staff, PhD and Masters candidates for research, recording and production of spatial sound works.

The Sound Diffusion System is used by staff, students and guests for concerts and research. The system has been used to present work from over 30 composers and is built from around 40 loud-speakers of various specification. The system is controlled using a purpose built Max/MSP patch. Performances are recorded in mixed formats using a variety of stereo, binaural, spot and ambisonic microphones. More information on diffusion software.

The Multi Purpose Room although not part of the Studios is next door and regularly used for rehearsals, exams, workshops and concerts. For spatial events, a 16 channel system can be setup in various configurations with space to comfortably seat an audience of approximately 80.

The Bundoora Spine Soundscape System was established in 2014 in collaboration with the RMIT Art Gallery. Academic staff of the studios provide curatorial and technical expertise to manage the system. A series of works drawn from the RMIT Sound Art Collection plays daily on the system, which is located on the RMIT Bundoora Campus, Plenty Road, Bundoora. More information on the Bundoora Spine Soundscape System.

Recording technologies used in the studio, concerts and for environmental recording include a range of stereo microphones, a suite of 8 Zoom recorders, Soundfield microphones, a 5.1 array, binaural dummy head recorder onto 2, 4 and 8 channel Sound Device recorders.

The facility is now based on the Dante system (2 in house) so audio can be easily delivered or recorded from around the building.

Hire-loan arrangements

Post-graduate students, staff and guests have access to the equipment for external projects once they have demonstrated their expertise and responsibility in operating equipment. Equipment in the facility is not available for external hiring or loans.

SIAL Sound Studios people


Adjunct Professor

Artist-in-residence and Industry Partners (Spatial Performance)

  • Chamber Made Opera (2014-2016)
  • Australia Council for the Arts (ARC Linkage Grant)
  • Elision Ensemble (via ARC grant 2008-2011 ongoing)
  • Speak Percussion with Richard Barrett (2013-2014)
  • Steve Adam RMIT Sound Art Commission (2013)
  • Susan Frykberg RMIT Sound Art Commission (2013)
  • Timothy Constable (Synergy Percussion)
  • Dr. Stuart Gerber (Georgia State University)


  • Steve Adam – ARC Elision (2009-2011) and Bundoora Soundscape System
  • Tim Kreger - Post-graduate supervision and project management for CitySounds 2.0: ADR
  • Iain Mott - Audio Spatialisation, ACID
  • Pete Brundle - Audio Spatialisation, ACID
  • Dr Michael Fowler - ARC Post-Doctoral Research Fellow
  • Nick Mariette - Vortex soundscape scoping study


  • Michael Hewes - Spatial Sound Composition and Diffusion (2006, 2007)
  • Dr Michael Fowler -Soundscape Studies Elective, Fermata (2006)
  • Anthony Magen -Soundscape Studies Elective, Fermata (2006)
  • Elizabeth Chappel - Soundscape Studies Elective, Shutdown (2005)
  • Peter Holmes - Acoustic Design Elective (2004)
  • Nicholas Murray - Design Studios, Museum of Sound (2005)
  • Nigel Frayne - Design Studio, Museum of Sound (2005)

Post-graduate and colloquium seminar presenters

  • Steve Adam – sound designer, composer
  • Jim Barbour – sound designer
  • Nicholas Murray – architect
  • Anton Hassell – sound sculpture, Australian Bell
  • Byron Scullin – sound designer
  • Marc Treib – architect and writer
  • David Young – composer and artistic director Aphids
  • Philippe Pasquier – sound designer, artificial intelligence and cognitive sciences
  • Franc Tetaz – composer and sound designer
  • Gordon Monro – composer
  • Andrew Blackburn – music for organ and electronics
  • Fritz Hauser and Boa Baumann – percussion and architecture
  • Daniel Buess & Daniel Stalder – HOW2 Percussion
  • Atau Tanaka – composer

SIAL Sound Studio Publications

Book chapters – refereed

  • Caquard S., Vaughan L. and Cartwright W. (Eds.), pp. 246-265. 2011 ISBN: 9783642224416.
  • Harvey, L and Moloney, J. “Resounding Cities: Acoustic Ecology and Games Technology”.
  • J.D. Wulfhorst and Anne K. Haugestad (eds.): Building Sustainable Communities: Ecological Justice and Global Citizenship. Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, pp. 181- 2006. 9042021233.
  • Fowler, Michael (2008): The city as soundscape laboratory. In: notions of space, Ed. Rochus Urban Hinkel. (Melbourne: Craft Victoria), 8-10.
  • Lacey, J and Harvey, L. ‘Pre-Modern Design of Post-Natural Soundscapes’, Paradigms of Nature: Post Natural Futures, KERB 19, edited by Caitrin Daly, Sarah Hicks, Adrian Keene and Ricky Ricardo, Melbourne Books, Melbourne, pp.114-119. ISBN 9781877096433, 2011.
  • Lacey, J and Harvey, L. ‘Sound Cartography Approaches to Urban Soundcape Research : CitySounds and Sites-of-Respite in the CBD of Melbourne’ in Mapping Environmental Issues in the City: Arts and Cartography Cross Perspectives. Lecture Notes in Geoinformation and Cartography series.

References in other publications

  • Harvey, L. Various Presences, Human Space in New Technology, an in-house publication of the DSC Portfolio.
  • Harvey, L. Interzone: Media Arts in Australia by Darren Tofts, published by Craftsman House.

Conference publications – refereed

  • Harvey, L. ’Aural culture’, The sensuous intellect, edited by Ross McLeod, RMIT Publishing Press Press, Melbourne, pp.34-41 ISBN: 1921166444, 2006.
  • Harvey, L., Folwer, M. Teimu (Garden of Dreams): aural and aesthetic attributes of Japanese gardens as models for spatial environments. Proceedings of The West meets the East in Acoustic Ecology Conference. Japanese Association for Sound Ecology (JASE) and Hirosaki University International Music Centre (HIMC). Editors Tadahiko Imada, Kozo Hiramatsu and Keiko Torigoe. ISBN 4-9903332-1-7, 2006.
  • Harvey, L. Fowler, M. Murray, N. Ephemeral envelopment: the electroacoustic music studio in a school of spatial studies. Proceedings of the Architecture, Music, Acoustics Conference, Ryerson University, Toronto, June 8 – 10, 2006. Toronto, Ont. Ryerson Embodied Architecture Lab, c2006. ISBN 189450349x.
  • Harvey, L. “The aural eye: soundscape practice and pedagogy in design education“. Inside-Out Conference, Melbourne, 22-24 April, 2005. Published in IDEA Journal 2005.Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane, Australia. ISSN 1445/5412. Appeared in 2006.
  • Harvey, L and Moloney, J.“Visualization and ’Auralization’ of Architectural Design in a Game Engine Based Collaborative Virtual Environment“. Proceedings of the Information Visualisation, Eighth International Conference on Information Visualization (IV'04), 2004. pp 827-832. ISBN 0-7695-2177-0.
  • Harvey, L and Moloney, J. “Resounding Cities: Acoustic Ecology and Games Technology“. Environmental Justice and Global Citizenship Conference, Copenhagen. February, 2004. Accessed April 29, 2005. ISBN: 1-904710-13-1.
  • Burry, Harvey, Moloney, More. “Implementing Nonlinear Sound Strategies within Spatial Design:Learning sound and spatial design within a collaborative virtual environment.“ Melbourne Digital Art and Culture Conference, 2003.
  • Burry, Harvey and More. “Understanding Spatial Information with Integrated 3D Visual and Aural Design Applications“– ACADIA Conference, Oct 2002. California State Polytechnic University. Proceedings of the 2002 Annual Conference of the Association for Computer Aided Design In Architecture / (California) 24-27 October 2002, pp. 333-338. ISBN 1-880250-11-X.
  • Hannam, J and Ha, W. “Poetics“, Atmosphere Symposium, Winnipeg Dec 2008.

Conference presentations – refereed

  • Harvey, L. and Folwer, M. Teimu: Garden of Dream: toward an advanced method for soundscape analysis. World Forum for Acoustic Ecology Conference, Hirosaki University International Music Centre, Hirosaki, Japan 2-6 November, 2006.
  • Harvey, L and Tengono, Y. “CitySounds, an immersive survey investigating diverse aural experiences“. Environmental Design Research Association (EDRA) Conference, Vancouver 27 April-1 May, 2005. Refereed abstract and paper presentation.
  • Missingham, Greg and Alex Selenitsch. “Japanese Crows don’t speak Eucalypt,“ in Proceedings of ConnectED 2007 International Conference on Design Education. University of New South Wales, July 9-12, 2007.
  • Fowler, M., Harvey, L. and Murray, N. (2006): Ephemeral envelopment: the electroacoustic music Studio in a school of spatial studies. Architecture|Music|Acoustics Conference at Ryerson University, Canada, June 006 (CD ROM).
  • Fowler, M and Harvey, L. (2006): Teimu (the garden of dreams): aural and aesthetic attributes of Japanese gardens as models for spatial environments. The West meets the East in Acoustic Ecology, Hirosaki University, Japan, November 2006, 147-165.
  • Fowler, Michael. (2007). Revealing the Unheard: re-contextualising the aurality of a Japanese garden. Paper presentation at Art of the Immersive Soundscape II, University of Regina, Canada, June 20-22, 2007.


  • CitySounds – Community Sound survey. For the City of Melbourne Noise Unit, 2006. Available from SIAL Sound Studio.

Journal articles and conference reports: non-refereed

  • Harvey, L. “Auditory Spatial Design and Culture“, Music Forum Vol.13 No.2, February-April 2007, pages 45-48. ISSN 1327-9300.
  • Harvey, L. Studio Report for SIAL Studios, RMIT University. ACMC05 Generate and Test: Proceedings of the Australasian Computer Music Conference 2005.
  • Harvey, L. “Acoustic Ecology – RMIT University,“ Soundscape. The Journal of Acoustic Ecology Vol 4, No. 2 (2003): 42-43.
  • Harvey, L. “Toward an Acoustic Design Repertoire….?“ Earshot, Journal of the UK & Ireland Soundscape Community, 2003.
  • Fowler, Michael (2008): Finding Cage at Ryoan-ji through a re-modelling of Variations II. Perspectives of New Music 47/1.
  • Fowler, Michael. (2008): Shin-Ryoanji: a digital garden. Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology Vol. 8/1, 33-36.
  • Fowler, Michael (2008): Three views of Sesshutei. The OPEN SPACE (accepted for publication 08.08).
  • Fowler, Michael (2006): Textscape-Landscape. The OPEN SPACE Issue 7, 273-76.

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Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business - Artwork 'Luwaytini' by Mark Cleaver, Palawa.

aboriginal flag
torres strait flag

Acknowledgement of Country

RMIT University acknowledges the people of the Woi wurrung and Boon wurrung language groups of the eastern Kulin Nation on whose unceded lands we conduct the business of the University. RMIT University respectfully acknowledges their Ancestors and Elders, past and present. RMIT also acknowledges the Traditional Custodians and their Ancestors of the lands and waters across Australia where we conduct our business.