Perception and Sound Design

Head: Jean-François Petiot


This option is designed to provide the elements needed to analyse, understand, assess, model and design the audio component of systems with which we interact, and more generally the sound environments in which we live. The products we use and the environments we live in stimulate our perception and must be managed and thought about in a relevant and coherent manner. Designing such systems is not a matter of the system alone (purely technical approach), nor of man alone (through training), but rather the result of man/machine interaction to ensure that the perceptive and cognitive capacities of users is taken into account.

The objective is to highlight the need to take perception into account in system design by emphasising the multi-disciplinary nature of such an approach (social and engineering sciences). This option was specifically designed to meet the needs of industrial firms with regard to issues with human considerations. 

A particular focus is placed on sound modality in this course and applications such as sound design, interface sonification, sound modality as a source of innovation, product and system sound quality etc. Dealing with sound environments includes addressing comfort and inconvenience.

The principle is to train engineers capable of integrating user perception into design (customer-oriented design), through knowledge of the methods and tools developed for measuring, analysing and modelling human/system interaction. The courses within this option cover both the theoretical aspects of perception and cognition, but also the highly specialised tools for digital audio analysis and synthesis for project work.

The option benefits from the involvement of two industrial partners:
  • Peugeot Citroën (PSA) on interface sonification and sound quality in cars
  • HEHO design (, a consulting firm in the creation and production of sound architecture and sound design.

Course Content

1) Experimental Method in Psychology *
2) Digital Music *
3) Acoustics - Signal - Psychoacoustics *
4/ Sound design
5/ Project

* courses taught jointly with the 'Science and Music' option.

Examples of projects

  • Design of alarm sounds (PROXIPI)
  • Sonification of an MMI for car driving (PSA)
  • Perceived audio quality of a washing machine (S20, La Roche sur Yon)
  • Acoustic measurement of human skin (Clarins)
  • Audio quality of a power screwdriver (CP Georges Renault, Saint Herblain)
  • Sounds for electric cars
  • Design of a musical clock

Sectors of activity and employment prospects

There is strong demand for qualified engineers across different sectors of activity in the following fields:
  • Manufactured products: sound design, design and emotion
  • Transport (automotive: perceived quality issues; interface sonification, acoustic comfort)
  • Audio database management
  • Urbanism -environmental quality
Published on November 5, 2015 Updated on January 31, 2018