This week’s staff spotlight showcases Adam Hill, Associate Professor of Electroacoustics at the University of Derby, who channels his expertise in electroacoustics, sound reinforcement, and signal processing in his work at the university. His journey from the USA to Derby was fueled by the allure of teaching and researching around live event engineering. Adam’s most memorable experience includes contributing to the WHO’s Make Listening Safe initiative, an encounter that juxtaposed discussions on global health and live event safety. While AI and immersive audio hold promise, Adam’s focus on diffuse signal processing aims to democratize consistent listening experiences at live events. Beyond academia, Adam enjoys bouldering and playing various musical instruments, finding inspiration at museums like the SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention. With the HELA initiative, Adam anticipates a transformative impact on live event safety and research funding.


photo of Adam Hill

Adam Hill

What is your name?

Adam Hill

What is your quest?

To make a positive impact on future generations of live event professionals and to conduct research that has a lasting positive effect on the industry. Also, I seek the grail 😉

What is your favourite colour?

Blue, no yellow…. (actually it’s green)

What is your hometown?

Highland Park, Illinois, USA

What did you do before coming to Derby? 

B.S.E. Electrical Engineering, Miami University
MSc Acoustics and Music Technology, University of Edinburgh
PhD Electrical Systems Engineering, University of Essex

Seasonal live sound engineer for Gand Concert Sound (2003 – present)

When did you start at Derby?

February 2012

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

I had never heard of Derby before applying for the job, but I knew Simon Lewis and Bruce Wiggins from the IOA Reproduced Sound conferences. I had two job offers: one from Derby and one from the US Air Force Institute of Technology. I spent a while weighing up the pros and cons of each and realized that the ability to teach and research live event engineering at Derby was an opportunity that I couldn’t pass up on. It was absolutely the right choice!

What is your current role?

Associate Professor of Electroacoustics

What programme(s) do you teach on?

MSc Audio Engineering
BSc (Hons) Sound, Light and Live Event Engineering
BEng (Hons) Electrical and Electronic Engineering

What are your areas of expertise?

Sound reinforcement
Signal processing
Sound exposure and noise pollution

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

Contributing to the WHO Make Listening Safe initiative’s annual meeting in Geneva, February 2020. It was surreal to be asked to provide my input on safe listening at live events in such an alien environment, even more so since the rest of the building was a buzz of activity trying to figure out what to do about this virus that was spreading rapidly across the globe!

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

It would be easy to say AI, which certainly will have an impact, but there are other interesting developments out there. It would also be easy to say immersive audio for live events, but I suspect this will be limited to the larger, high-budget performances and won’t reach smaller venues (which deliver the majority of live music). I hope that my work on diffuse signal processing will make a positive impact soon, as this is a cheap and easy solution to inconsistent listening experiences at live events. It’s just a matter of convincing the manufacturers to give it a try!

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

Bouldering/rock climbing, although it’s difficult to find the time these days with two young kids at home! I also enjoy playing music (guitar, bass, drums, piano), having played on and off with various bands over the years.

What is your favourite museum?

The American Museum of Radio and Electricity, now known as SPARK Museum of Electrical Invention, in Bellingham, Washington, USA. I visited in 2010 and was able to listen to an original wax cylinder recording of a speech by US President Teddy Roosevelt, which was the highlight for me (the Nicola Tesla exhibit was also very interesting).

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

The Healthy Ears, Limited Annoyance (HELA) initiative. I’ve been leading on this for the past number of years, where the HELA certification scheme is set to launch later this year, which aims to educate all key stakeholders in the live event industry to help them understand how to deliver exciting live event experiences while maintaining a safe listening environment and not causing issues with the neighbors. Revenue from this will (hopefully) drive research in live event engineering for many years to come. Stay tuned!

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