Communication Acoustics course - Pulkki and Karjalainen

Communication Acoustics book cover

Communication Acoustics - An Introduction to Speech, Audio and Psychoacoustics
Ville Pulkki (1969-) and Matti Karjalainen (1946-2010)

456 pages, 250 illustrations

Published by John Wiley

This page exists to make available the course material corresponding to the book. The "Communication Acoustics" course in Aalto University is an annual course for master-level students. It is thought to be the introductory course to acoustics after completing bachelor degree. The teaching consists of eleven to twelve 150-minute lectures, and single workshop day.

The course was first time kept in our university on year 1976 by Prof. Jarmo Toivonen, and after Toivonen, Prof. Matti Karjalainen taught it for about 25 years. After Karjalainen I have been in charge of it for about 8 years now. The book is based on the course material that we have been collecting during almost 40 years.

Please find slides for the course below (about 480 pdf-slides and 25 audio files, totally 110 MB). If you are an educator and would need the sources for the slides (LaTeX / Beamer), pls contact me ( In my course in Aalto University I have not taught Chapter 15 so far (time-frequency-domain Processing and Coding of Audio). However, I have made slides also for it for your convenience.

The lectures are accompainied with a relatively simple project work. The students are divided into groups of 2-3 students. The phases in the project are:

  1. each group is given task to research certain perceptual attribute of sound such as sharpness (after lecturing Ch 11)
  2. the groups collect 6 short samples of sound producing different perceptions of the attribute
  3. the groups run a multiple-stimulus listening test to all students in the course using open-access software;
  4. the groups plot the listening test results and discuss them briefly in an email;
  5. they try to explain the listening test results by analyzing the sounds using modified or unmodified auditory model (Matlab script found in Chapter 13.6.1);
  6. the groups make a 10-minute presentation of the results of the listening test and modeling.
The target of the project work is to introduce psychoacoustic concepts better to the student, and also to show that auditory modeling explains in some degree the perception of sound. The project work is better explained in the material. Added to the project work, a written examination is conducted, where the students write two essays, and define 12 concepts. A list of 8 essay questions from where the essay topics are selected is published before the examination, and is included in the material. The examination is supposed to test the digestion of most imporant topics in the course, and also to give training in technical writing.

An exercise will be added to the course in autumn 2015, which concentrates on such topics as sound pressure, decibels, distance attenuation, coherent and incoherent summation, reverberation time, and absorption.

Download the slides and other material (>100 MB) from Communication Acoustics course in autumn 2017. If you use the material in your teaching or in publications, please make appropriate reference to the book, or to original sources as indicated in the slides. The audio and video examples have been tested using Adobe reader (tested with 11.0), they will not run using Mac Preview (tested with version 7.0). Remember to set "trust this document always" option on, so you will be able to access the demonstrations.

Ville Pulkki
Professor (Associate, tenured)
Department of Signal Processing and Acoustics
School of Electrical Engineering
Aalto University

Last modified Dec 2017.