Meet Jon Burton, our featured staff member this week, bringing a wealth of experience as arguably one of the top live sound engineers in the world. Jon’s expertise spans audio engineering, acoustics, event management, and more, enriching programs like BSc Sound Light and Live Event Engineering, BA Event Management, and MSc Audio Engineering. His current project, ‘Healthy Ears, Limited Annoyance’ (HELA), aims to raise awareness of safe listening at live events. Jon’s dedication to teaching earned him the title of Lecturer of the Year by the Union of Students, reflecting his profound impact on student learning. Outside of work, Jon enjoys exploring the arts, history, and hopes to reignite his passion for performing music.


Jon Burton in the studio

Jon Burton

What is your name?

Jon Burton

What is your quest?

To make a lasting impact on the industry I have worked in most of my adult life.

What is your favourite colour?


What is your hometown?

It changes, I was born and brought up in North London, but lived in Oxford for many years. My allegiance swaps between the two. I support Oxford United though…

What did you do before coming to Derby? 

I started a company called Specialist Sound Hire in 1986 to represent my work as a sound engineer, and for the small amount of audio equipment I had to rent out. That company is still trading. As a sound engineer, I have worked at the highest level in concert touring for many years. I have toured the world extensively with acts from The Prodigy to Blue, Biffy Clyro to Lulu. I have worked as a monitor engineer, system tech and FOH. I also have a 5 studio recording complex in Sheffield, The Laundry Rooms. I have had numerous jobs, too many to mention, but interestingly was once paid to draw sketch maps of every railway and navigable waterway in England and Wales.

When did you start at Derby?

I started at Derby in August 2019 as a lecturer.

Why did you choose to work at the University of Derby?

I applied for several positions when I decided to step back from full-time touring. Of the jobs I was offered, Derby offered me the best balance between a good course and excellent research opportunities. I had already met Adam Hill as he had been the examiner on my MSc by Research I had completed at York. I had met him and Bruce previously on a day trip to Markeaton Street and discussed curriculum changes before I had even applied. As I have taught at most of the other UK universities that provide courses in this area, I had a good what each offered. I think I made the right choice!

What is your current role?

Senior Lecturer

What programme(s) do you teach on?

BSc in Sound Light and Live Event Engineering
BA in Event Management
MSc in Audio Engineering

What are your areas of expertise?

Audio, Acoustics, Psychoacoustics, Noise Control, Event Management, Event Production, Mixing, Music Tech, Entrepreneurship and Cartography.

What has been your most memorable experience from your time working at Derby?

I was awarded Lecturer of the Year by the Union of Students and was really taken aback. I was very humbled by the support of the students who had taken the time to nominate me.

What do you think is the next “big thing” in your field?

De-correlated subs, so that the entire audience gets to feel the ‘drop’.

What’s a hobby or interest you have outside of your university work?

I am interested in the arts and history. I am hoping to reignite my interest in playing music, which I stopped doing too many years ago.

What is your favourite museum?

The Pitt Rivers Museum in Oxford. It is an amazing Victorian collection by one of the early influential figures in archaeology and evolutionary anthropology, Augustus Henry Lane Fox, later General Pitt-Rivers. It is a warren of draws, cabinets and shelves of eclectic items. Brilliant!

Is there a work-related project you’re particularly excited about?

I am currently working on an international certification, ‘Healthy Ears, Limited Annoyance’ (HELA), with colleagues. This is a major project and will represent the culmination of many years work trying to raise undestanding and awareness of how and why we should measure sound pressure levels at events.

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