Ford Driving Sound Testing to An All New Level with the 2013 Ford Escape

Posted by at 3:57 am on March 21, 2012

Many of  us know that Suzanne Vega’s “Tom’s Diner” by was the first song used by Karlheinz Brandenburg to develop the MP3 format.  Brandenburg listened to the song again and again, refining the scheme, making sure it did not adversely affect the subtlety of Vega’s voice.

Well the folks at Ford and with the aid of some the audio gurus at Sony have taken core idea of testing to the road to make sure you have great sound stage inside the all-new  2013 Ford Escape..  And yes, they took Suzanne Vega’s a cappella hit “Tom’s Diner” along for the ride.

Ford audio engineers used many recordings across genres such as rap, blues, rock, jazz, county, and even classical to evaluate tonal balance and sound quality in all audio regions to verify a natural sound stage in the new 2013 Escape. The lip smack in Suzanne Vega’s a cappella hit “Tom’s Diner” is used to check the center staging of the sound system, while Rihanna’s “S.O.S.” helps evaluate clean bass mixed with vocals and ensure there is nothing shrill in the tweeters. PJ Harvey’s “Electric Light” was used to make sure the instruments don’t modulate the vocals and the bass doesn’t shake the doors.

“We tuned the audio system so that it sounds natural – as if you’re listening to music inside a theater rather than in your vehicle,” said Christine Templin, one of the audio engineers who tuned the Escape’s sound system.

Ford’s Best of Escape Playlist

  1. ZZ Top “La Grange” – Listen for the clean snare drum clicks, left and right rhythm guitars and strong bass guitar
  2. Yello “The Race” – Listen for a sensation of the car racing from right to left, and left to right. “It should sound spacious with transients of doors slamming,” Templin says
  3. Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side” – Listen for backup singers to move from far to near, testing image depth. Check for tonal balance and loud dynamics
  4. Kenny Chesney “Summertime” – Listen for clean vocals, instruments should be clearly defined
  5. Eminem “Remember Me” – Listen for loud dynamics, bass extension
  6. Rihanna “S.O.S.” – Listen for tonal balance, clean bass, nothing shrill in the tweeters
  7. Beyonce featuring Jay Z “Déjà Vu” – Listen for bass to be clean and even. Vocals should not break up or sound overly bright
  8. Peter, Paul and Mary “I Have a Song To Sing O” – This is an old recording with vocals panned left-center-right in order to test staging and imaging. Voices should retain a natural timbre
  9. Johnny Cash “Bird on a Wire” – This intimate recording (as if Cash were in his living room) tests tonal balance and spatial qualities. Vocals show a close-mike effect
  10. Bruno Giuranna Mozart Piano Quartets 1 & 2, “Allegretto” – Listen for a natural piano tone. Strings should be forward

Using Both Science and the Ear to Ensure the Feeling of the Music Comes for the Ride

The audio engineers’ work is twofold: the objective portion, monitoring sound wave files on laptop computers hooked up to speakers within the vehicle; and the subjective portion, relying on human ears to fine-tune the quality of the system.

Templin explained how Jennifer Warnes’ recording of Leonard Cohen’s “Famous Blue Raincoat” should give the listener a specific feeling.

“You should feel like you have been transported to a gloomy environment,” she said.

Audio Options in the 2013 Ford Escape

The Escape, which will be available this spring, has three available audio systems: the standard six-speaker system, a nine-speaker system and a Sony branded 10-speaker system.



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