SoundCheck 18’s new features focus on automation and simplicity. Automation features include the ability to pass test configuration data to and from external programs, and control of MEMS interfaces via a sequence. Setup and test development is simplified with ‘plug and play’ functionality for Listen hardware, simplified gain control, and improved sampling rate management.
Improved Automation Simplifies Test Sequences
Soundcheck’s new sequence parameter feature allows the user to pass test configuration data into the memory list from external programs using TCP/IP commands. By externally storing parameters such as limits, test levels, and test signals, a single sequence can be used for multiple products, simplifying the number of sequences that a large organization needs to maintain, and reducing test configuration time.
It is also useful for applications where a sequence needs to be run many times with different parameters, for example, testing voice recognition with a range of voices or test levels. This functionality is particularly useful where SoundCheck tests are run as part of a larger automated test framework controlled using Python, C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW, etc.
Reduced Set Up Time with Plug and Play Listen Hardware
Improved hardware setup enables you to plug in and make measurements faster. Listen and Portland Tool & Die Hardware are now true ‘plug-and-play’ which minimizes configuration time, particularly with multichannel interfaces. Simply connect your AmpConnect, BTC-4149 or other Listen interface via the USB cable and the software auto-populates parameters such as sampling rate and calibration values, and creates input and output signal paths.Multiple hardware items are stored within the software, so that they are immediately recognized when connected, and the software will automatically default to the correct device.When substituting devices of the same type, SoundCheck will re-use the configuration previously set up, either manually or during a sequence, so that signal paths and sequence configurations do not need to be updated. This makes deploying a sequence over multiple stations simpler and faster and will offer significant time-savings for large-scale operations who need to configure multiple stations or move hardware around between stations.
Simplified Gain Control Selection
Auto read and auto range gain settings are now easily accessible as drop-down options in the gain menu in the acquisition step editor, and auto-read is available in virtual instruments. Setting the gain to auto-read, means that SoundCheck will automatically adjust the gain based on manual input from the user, making it much faster to make quick gain adjustments while developing sequences. When the gain is set to auto range, SoundCheck will automatically identify the correct level of gain to optimize the measurement signal to noise ratio. This makes it fast and simple to optimize tests in the R&D lab for the correct gain before transferring them to production.
Improved sampling rate management
Many audio interfaces have a latency that is dependent on the sampling rate, and SoundCheck 18 brings improved communication with these devices. Firstly, for any hardware device, the user can specify the latencies for various sampling rates, either by entering them manually or importing from a file. SoundCheck will then automatically use the correct latency for any sampling rate specified in the stimulus editor. Secondly, the sampling rate can now be set in the stimulus editor. This is useful for users who need to do iterative tests involving multiple sampling rates and/or set the sampling rate via a sequence. Finally, when using WAV files, the sampling rate no longer needs to be manually set to match the sampling rate of the WAV file. This makes it simpler to switch between WAV files, and is useful for anyone making measurements with wave file signals such as speech or music.
New Digital I/O Control
Digital I/O control is now a separate message step. This means that all controls for I/O settings are completely separate from other AmpConnect settings, minimizing the possibility of other parameters such as gain or routing being accidentally modified. The new settings offer a uniform appearance and switching scheme across all devices with digital I/O control, so that sequences written, for example, with NI hardware, are easily converted to work with AmpConnect.
MEMS Interface control
The Portland Tool & Die MEMS microphone interfaces can now be fully controlled from within SoundCheck. This offers faster setup of the measurement interfaces with SoundCheck as well as greater measurement reliability as the device settings can be built into the test sequence. Sequences using the R&D grade DCC-1448 interface will also work seamlessly with the production-grade PQC-1448, making it much simpler to transition sequences from the R&D lab to the production line.
TEDS Support (with compatible Listen hardware) enables automatic identification, configuration and calibration of TEDS microphones and accelerometers, saving time on initial hardware setup and whenever hardware is changed.
WASAPI Driver support
SoundCheck 18 now includes WASAPI driver support in Windows 10. This driver offers full multichannel support, allowing each individual channel to display separately in the hardware editor, rather than as channel pairs.
AmpConnect 621 Control (New in Version 18.1)
SoundCheck 18.1 introduces control for the new AmpConnect 621 interface. This all-in-one multichannel interface (6-in, 2-out) has no front-panel controls and is exclusively controlled via the software. This minimizes potential operator error and ensures seamless integration with test sequences and virtual instruments.
New Auto Delay+ Algorithm (New in Version 18.1)
The new Auto Delay+ algorithm offers increased accuracy for open loop measurements, especially in cases where the delay is longer than 1 second. It is particularly useful for measuring smart devices such as smart speakers, automotive audio, hearables, etc., where test signals are sent via the cloud.
SoundCheck 18 New Features Video:
This new Windows/Mac release offers many features to simplify multi-channel and voice controlled testing, such as a new level and cross-correlation trigger, average curve/waveform post-processing functionality, the ability to easily read and work with multichannel wavefiles, multiple DC Connect control, and enhanced database options (useful when processing data from a large number of channels). On the usability side, SoundCheck 17 offers increased flexibility in color pallets, save to MATLAB option, and the ability to recall CSV formatted text files.
Improved Display Color Palettes
Improved color pallets offer ultimate flexibility in defining colors for backgrounds, grids, cursors and graph lines. New default color palettes are included, and user-defined palettes can be saved as pre-set files which will be applied to any new display created. Multiple palettes can be saved, for example allowing different color sets for different applications.
Save to MATLAB
All data including memory list curves and Soundmap (time frequency analysis) data can now be saved to MATLAB for additional processing. Data is saved as a standard MAT file and can be manually or automatically saved in this format.
Level & Cross-Correlation Trigger
(requires optional module 2006 – Time Selective Response)
A new cross-correlation ‘smart trigger’ offers improved performance for open loop measurements. By using a chirp-based conditioning tone and searching for the exact log sweep frequency, it is more robust and less
susceptible to false triggers than simpler level and frequency triggers. This feature requires optional module 2006 (time selective response) to be installed.
Enhanced Database (optional module)
The improved database module is a powerful data management tool for customers testing modern audio products with multiple transducers (microphone arrays, multiple speakers, etc.), as these frequently generate large volumes of data. It is also extremely valuable for production line users who need to retain complete test data for full traceability. Enhancements in version 17 make it 4x faster and 3x more space-efficient than previous versions. Such speed is achieved by saving to a binary format; SQL and Python tools are provided to facilitate data extraction so that detailed analysis and graphical representation may be implemented in your Business Intelligence (BI) system of choice (e.g. Tableau, Qlik,etc.).
Read Multichannel WAV Files
Testing of multichannel devices such as microphone or speaker arrays is much easier and faster as SoundCheck now reads multichannel WAV files from the memory list, signal generator and stimulus steps; there is no need to de-interleave the files in a separate utility before importing into SoundCheck. When opening a multichannel WAV file in the Memory list, each WAV file channel is named using the file name and channel number, and all channels are automatically grouped together.
Control Multiple DC Connects
Also for testing multi-channel devices, multiple DC Connects can now be controlled and used for data acquisition within SoundCheck. Separate DC Connect message steps can be used to configure each DC connect (output modes, signal level, polarity, voltage level, current level etc.) independently.
Average Curve/WFM is a new post processing function that allows you to obtain the average curve (or waveform) of a selected group of data in the Memory List. It is particularly useful for power averaging selected curves, averaging curves from different spatial positions (e.g. microphone arrays), and complex averaging of multiple measurements with background noise.
Supports New APTX HD Codec
The new APTX HD codec for high resolution Bluetooth testing is supported in the SoundCheck software, and also in the newest version of the BTC Bluetooth Interface, which is fully integrated with, and controlled by, SoundCheck.
64 bit Demo / Data Viewer
A 64 bit demo / data viewer replaces the 32 bit demo version. When the software key is not installed, previously measured data can still be recalled and viewed. For users who wish to additionally process stored data but have no need to acquire it, cost effective limited licenses are available.
Recall from CSV
CSV files can be recalled in addition to TXT files. A separate IMP file for the CSV format can be created allowing for automatic recall of CSV files. This makes its easier to recall pre-formatted text files.
Version 16 / 16.1
This feature-packed Windows/Mac release includes several new features and algorithms for distortion measurements, a new frequency counter, optional strip chart recorder that emulates a traditional strip chart and more. There are also improvements on the usability side including increased setup automation and control via Python.
The new frequency trigger allows frequency-based triggering of acquisition from an external source using a pilot tone at the beginning of a test sweep. This allows for improved accuracy over previous level-based triggering when capturing responses from a device where you don’t have direct access to the microphone or speaker. This is otherwise known as Open Loop testing for Smart Speakers and other voice-controlled devices. (watch video demo)
Faster & more accurate THD+N analysis algorithm
Listen’s completely re-designed THD+N analysis algorithm is compliant with the AES17 standard, and is more accurate and significantly faster than other audio test systems. High accuracy is achieved, even with short and/or low level test signals, through the use of a synthetic notch filter – an extremely precise digital notch filter. A traditional notch filter option is also offered to enable correlation with measurements made on legacy systems. The algorithm also includes high and low pass filters for controlling the measurement bandwidth and for filtering noise in electronic measurements.
New Real Time Distortion Analyzer (optional module)
A new distortion analyzer provides continuous real time measurement of output distortion including THD and THD+N, THD and THD+N residual level and SINAD. A, B, and C weighting filters along with user-defined arbitrary weighting functions can be used. Data from the distortion analyzer can also be saved to the memory list. This enables distortion to be quickly viewed without having to set up a sequence. With the optional strip chart recorder, distortion can also be viewed over time.
New Real Time Distortion Analyzer
New Frequency Counter (optional module)
The new high resolution frequency counter offers an accurate and clear visual indication of frequency, determining the dominant signal in a selected signal path and returning a precise frequency measurement. This measurement can be saved to the memory list and can be used in a sequence, for example for triggering a measurement at a certain frequency. This feature is useful for calibration (e.g. calibrating audiometers), for testing playback systems to ensure that they are playing back audio at a constant rate, and for any other application requiring a high-precision frequency measurement.
Save to Memory List for All Meters
The multimeter, distortion analyzer and frequency counter can all now save results to the memory list, even when used interactively. This enables an instantaneous measurement to be recorded without having to run a sequence, and also enables these saved values to be used within sequences.
New Strip Chart Recorder (optional module)
The Strip Chart Recorder module provides the multimeter, distortion analyzer and frequency counter the ability to plot measurements over time. This functionality is directly equivalent to connecting a paper chart recorder to a classic, stand-alone hardware instrument. The Strip Chart Recorder can plot continuously or for a predefined amount of time and can plot instantaneous results or repeating averages. This is an invaluable feature for environmental and reliability testing and for any engineer that needs to characterize the behavior of a device over time. Results from the Strip Chart Recorder can be saved to the memory list and used inside a sequence just like any other virtual instrument.
Sweep Equalization for Minimized Transients
In stepped sine amplitude and frequency sweeps, selecting equalization now also enables a smooth transition between steps. These smooth transitions minimize the transient response in the device under test. This results in shorter test times, smoother sounding sweeps, and is particularly useful for microphone testing where a source speaker needs to be equalized.
The multimeter has a new, fixed or auto-tracking bandpass filter option. This is useful for measuring a specific signal in the presence of background noise. In addition a new ‘Linear Repeating’ averaging mode is available. In this mode a linear average is made and then repeated. This is useful when, for example, you would like to plot a repeating 1 second Leq of the environmental noise level.
SoundCheck automatically scans for new devices and setting changes when opened, and updates the Hardware Editor, Audio Hardware and Listen Hardware Tabs. This makes setup much faster. The ability to also manually adjust hardware setup and preserve 3rd party hardware settings offers flexibility and makes it easier to integrate Listen and 3rd party hardware. To simplify audio interface setup, sample rates are restricted to the selection valid for that device. If changes are made during a SoundCheck session, a simple ‘refresh’ will scan for changes and update the settings.Software installation for multiple systems is also simplified; when pointing to a folder of multiple status.dat files in the setup wizard, the correct status.dat file is automatically selected based on the connected hardware key.
A new conversion tool facilitates updating custom VIs from an older version to the latest version of SoundCheck by automatically re-linking the appropriate vi and ctl files, saving time over doing it manually.
Outline ET250-3D Turntable Control
Custom Steps are available to control the Outline Turntable model ET250-3D, and an example sequence is available.
SoundCheck Control Via Python
SoundCheck can be controlled via Python, an object-oriented scripting language that offers some advantages over C++. An included example (which can be used as a starting point and modified) demonstrates the simplicity of controlling SoundCheck using Python. Compatible with Python 2 and 3, this script opens SoundCheck, loads and runs the “Complete Test” sequence, and passes results back to the Python script for further processing.
Externally Launch and Close Virtual Instruments
A new virtual instrument wrapper allows you to open and close virtual instruments from a custom VI or using TCP/IP.
The Exit Status of Custom Steps Is Now Indicated
Like other SoundCheck steps, the Sequence Editor now highlights in red or green whether a custom step completed successfully or not.
Watch the SoundCheck 16 New Features Video
More Powerful Control with TCP/IP
External control of SoundCheck is simpler, yet more powerful with the new TCP/IP control. This offers many advantages over the previous Active X controls (still available), such as the ability to connect to SoundCheck via any programming language, on any operating system, either locally or through a network. It also features a more powerful and expandable command format for interacting with SoundCheck. This is extremely valuable for anyone who needs to control SoundCheck from an external program, for example as part of an overall test plan or factory automation. Using this feature, a single computer can control multiple SoundCheck systems, simplifying production line measurements.
SoundCheck’s multimeter has been completely re-designed to offer additional functionality as well as ease of use. An expandable window enables a compact ‘meter’ view, or an expanded detailed ‘settings’ view. In ‘meter’ view, a clear, simple level meter is displayed, which changes color to warn of overload or near overload values. The value is shown in a clear numerical readout, with a choice of linear or log values. The averaging type, weighting type and bandwidth are also displayed.
In ‘settings’ view, 4 different tabs for measurement, averaging, filters and limit setting are visible, and options such as linear/log scale, filtering and weighting options, etc. can be selected. Enhancements to the multimeter’s capabilities include the ability to measure DC voltage in addition to AC voltage, enabling SoundCheck to be used with a DC coupled interface (e.g. the NI 4461) for making DC audio electronic measurements. The addition of high and low pass filters is useful for removing electrical noise for electronic measurements and low frequency background noise for acoustic measurements. A new ‘autoscaling’ option automatically adjusts the range of the display based on the signal. The multimeter can also now read the dB ref from the memory list. Multimeter settings (range, filters, averaging, etc.) can be saved, loaded and set as default, making it quick to recall commonly used meter settings. The multimeter settings can also be combined with other virtual instruments and the complete virtual instrument set-up saved.
Improved Plot Legend Flexibility
Additional plot legend options have been added. A toggle makes the plot legend visible or invisible, the legend can be placed at the top or the right of the graph. A new auto-size option re-sizes the plot legend area to show the entire curve or waveform names. When not auto-sized, placing the pointer over a curve or waveform name will display the entire name.
Auto-Mode in Hardware Editor
When automode is checked, the audio table is automatically refreshed as hardware is plugged and unplugged, without the need to close and reopen the hardware editor to see the changes updated. This makes system set-up faster and simpler.
Control of Bluetooth Interface
Various improvements in the BTC control include faster response, better abort handling and the ability to detect when a connection has failed so that the sequence can decide whether to try again or not.
Improved Audio Mixer
The Windows & Mac OS Audio Mixer custom VI has been updated to work with the latest versions of both Windows and Mac OS. This enables controls of any audio input or output via steps in SoundCheck. For example, the volume of a headset may be controlled while testing it, or the levels of a WDM audio device can be fixed at unity gain for consistent calibration.
Support for Accelerometer Calibration and Force Measurement
Accelerometer and other vibration transducer calibration and related force units (dB re 1 m/s2, dB re 1 N and dB re 1 g) are now supported. This enables measurement of linear motors such as those used in haptic devices.
Faster Setup with Automatically Selected Status.dat
If the status.dat path is pointed to a folder containing multiple status.dat files, the software will automatically load the one that corresponds to the currently plugged in hardware key. This is useful for customers who are setting up multiple SoundCheck computers, as a single computer image can be created with SoundCheck pre-configured rather than having to set up each individual key on the corresponding computer.
Listen Hardware Integration
SoundCheck 14 provides seamless integration with Listen’s expanding line of hardware products including AmpConnect, DC Connect, SoundConnect 2 and AudioConnect. Simply connect one of these devices to the system via USB, and SoundCheck automatically detects it and configures all necessary settings. This makes the initial system setup quick and easy, even for novice users and non-technical personnel. All Listen hardware products, as well as the Portland Tool & Die BTC-4148 Bluetooth interface can now be directly controlled from within the software, enabling them to be changed as part of a sequence.
Hardware Editor Improvement
The hardware editor has been completely overhauled to make it simpler to use. A clear table-structure view makes it easy to see and understand all configured devices at a glance. A new ‘Auto’ mode allows SoundCheck to detect and maintain any Listen audio interfaces so that most users will never even have to open the hardware editor or modify hardware settings.
Calibration – Input Gain
Calibration input sensitivity has now been divided into two parts: sensitivity of the transducer and preamplifier gain. This allows the user to change the gain of the preamp to optimize the dynamic range of the system without needing to re-calibrate the microphone. Additionally, this gain value can be automatically read and updated from Listen hardware such as AmpConnect, SoundConnect 2 and AudioConnect. This automatic mode allows the user to modify preamplifier gains as necessary for different applications while maintaining a fully calibrated signal path.
The new auto-ranging feature allows customers using Listen hardware to automatically adjust the microphone preamplifier gain in order to optimize the dynamic range of the test. When auto-ranging is enabled in an acquisition step, SoundCheck will monitor the digital headroom of the audio interface and if necessary increase or decrease the preamp gain, selecting the optimal setting for maximum signal to noise ratio. If a change to the gain is made the acquisition step runs again with the new settings.
New Search Range Interface
Many post processing operations in SoundCheck have a search range, which allows the user to select discrete points or ranges along the x-axis over which to perform the desired calculation. Examples include scalar functions such as average, max and min, as well as windowing intersection, and more. The SoundCheck 14 version of the search range has been completely updated, and now uses a very simple table control and for the first time allows memory list values to be selected. This means that search range parameters can be variables that are dynamically calculated by the sequence.
Setup Wizard Enhancements
The Setup Wizard, first introduced in SoundCheck 12 to help users configure new systems and upgrade from existing versions, receives significant changes and improvements in SoundCheck 14. Users are now presented with a menu of choices as to which section of the wizard they would like to run (load status.dat, import settings, update sequences, setup new hardware). The new format allows users the flexibility to run only portions of the wizard as well as to re-run the utilities as they wish. Current SoundCheck customers will benefit from the more powerful capabilities the new wizard offers for updating existing sequences.
SoundCheck for OS X
SoundCheck 14 is the first version of the software made available for use on the Macintosh OS. Mac users with Mavericks or Yosemite versions of OS X are now able to run SoundCheck as a native 64-bit application. Sequences, steps, and data files are cross compatible between the Windows and Mac versions, providing versatility when collaborating with other SoundCheck users. Core audio driver support is included, allowing the same hardware to be used on both operating systems.
SoundCheck 13’s release marks a move towards a simpler, more intuitive user interface with standard context-sensitive control and centralized menus. This offers user benefit in the form of faster test development and a more attractive user interface. In addition, improved memory management and a 64 bit version offer faster testing and the option to use longer test signals.
New Sequence Editor
A complete overhaul of SoundCheck’s sequence editor makes it faster to write, troubleshoot and modify test sequences. The step templates pane now features an expandable tree structure for template categories and can be fully collapsed to maximize sequence space. Single or multiple steps are now added to a sequence or moved within it simply by dragging and dropping, and all other functions are accessed by right clicking on the step.
The sequence editor now runs in parallel with Soundcheck and can remain open when running a sequence. The currently running step is highlighted in the editor for ease of troubleshooting. Users can insert breakpoints into a sequence for debugging purposes; when a breakpoint is reached the sequence pauses, so that the user can view data, edit steps, or insert new steps. New buttons on the main SoundCheck toolbar can then be used to advance the sequence one step at a time or run the remaining steps in the sequence. A portion of the sequence can also be run using the ‘Run from Here’ option in the right click menu. These new debugging tools make the Sequence Editor an even more powerful development environment.
Undo functionality has also been added to the Sequence Editor both as a right click and familiar Ctrl+Z shortcut. This allows the user to quickly revert changes made when developing and editing sequences.
Updated versions of the XY and Waveform graphs feature a cleaner look and a more intuitive interface. Right click menus and a collapsible toolbar now contain all graph controls, leaving an uncluttered main window with a larger graph. Customizing the appearance of the graph, zooming, setting axis ranges, and even using cursors is simpler and more efficient than ever before.
Improved Memory Management
Significant improvements to SoundCheck’s memory management allows the use of longer stimulus signals than ever before, and sequences that use multiple acquisition steps can also keep iterative recorded waveforms in the memory list without incurring significant memory consumption. Customers performing multi-channel measurements will also experience substantial performance gains in SoundCheck 13 due to the lower memory footprint. This is beneficial for R&D applications with complex sequences, in particular in the telephony industry where long speech signals are widely used.
SoundCheck is now available in a 64-bit version. This allows the program to access more system memory, which permits the use of much longer stimuli (over 1 minute in length) and allow larger data sets such as DAT files with hundreds of curves to be opened into the memory list for offline analysis and reporting.
SoundCheck ONE has been updated and expanded for its release with SoundCheck 13. SoundCheck ONE is an entry-level SoundCheck system which is essentially a lower cost, simplified, version of SoundCheck coupled with the AmpConnect ISC hardware. SoundCheck ONE offers the capability to test loudspeakers, microphones and headphones within predetermined sequence templates.
Although the user interface is the same as in the full version of SoundCheck, rather than using the Sequence Editor, SoundCheck ONE users are supplied with sequence templates. These templates serve as the starting point for all SoundCheck ONE tests and can be used to generate as many product-specific sequences as desired by selecting parameters such as the stimulus signal, characteristics to be measured, frequency range, level and limits.
SoundCheck ONE is aimed at customers who do not own a full version of SoundCheck and need a low cost and easy to set up system for basic production line tests of loudspeakers, microphones or headphones. While it offers the same accuracy, advanced algorithms and speed as the regular version of SoundCheck, its flexibility and test customization capabilities are restricted. It is a good entry point for a company testing their products for the first time or moving up from a more rudimentary test system. It can be upgraded to the full version at any time for an additional fee.
Preferences and Quick Start Menus
A new preferences menu consolidates program-wide preferences such as folder paths and background wallpaper into a single menu. This menu also includes new options such as toggling sequence documentation and whether or not to automatically load a sequence on startup. A new Quick Start Menu provides a simple interface for choosing a sequence to open or starting a new sequence. It also allows easy access to recently used sequences as well as examples.
Memory List Values for Time Window
The Time Window in the Time Selective Response analysis step can now use values from the memory list. This allows the window to be set dynamically during the sequence using recalled or calculated values rather than fixed.
SoundCheck 12.0 new features offer advantages to both new and established SoundCheck users. Many center around ease of use, sharing sequences and offline data processing – features requested by many of our customers. Others, such as the statistics enhancements, increase the software’s capabilities.
New Tabs for display steps
A new set of tabs below the SoundCheck tool bar allows a user to quickly switch between display steps when viewing sequence results. There is an ‘offline’ tab, plus tabs for each display step in the sequence. The user can easily switch between data views, or back to the ‘offline’ tab, which is always present, even outside of a sequence. In the ‘offline’ tab, data can be examined or analyzed without affecting the layout of the display outputs from the sequence. When a display step tab is selected, the user can view or edit the display for that step. New right click controls also provide easy access to display editor functions. This new feature benefits anyone developing complex test sequences, and saves time when writing reports.
Single File Sequences
All parameters related to an automated test script are now stored in the sequence file. This simplifies sequence management and updating as only a single .SQC file is needed, even where multiple files are used in a sequence. Parameters are also now localized to the test sequence, to eliminate the risk of accidentally changing other sequences while editing. These changes benefit all users, particularly those who share sequences between systems and facilities.
Relative File Paths
File path controls in a sequence step can now be set relative to the folder path of the sequence itself. This is useful when sharing sequences with other SoundCheck users and locations, as it makes it easy to move the sequence and all of its related files (recalled DAT files, WAV file stimuli, etc.) from one place to another. The relative path can even include sub-folders.
New Offline Setting
The new offline setting for SoundCheck enables users to open, process, and view data without loading a test sequence. This minimizes the risk of accidentally editing test scripts. In this mode, virtual instruments such as the signal generator, multimeter etc. can also be used. This is especially useful to customers who view data on a regular basis, for example, development engineers who run a series of experiments and then post-process the data or production engineers who need to view large sets of data from the factory.
Several features have been added to the statistics step, mostly in the offline mode. A new Histogram option enables numerical results data from a batch of products to be plotted on a histogram and a bell curve fitted. This is valuable for analysis of production line data, for example plotting a histogram of the sensitivity of a batch of loudspeakers. A new axis selector on the best/worst fit to average and histogram functions enables user-selection of the axis on which statistical analysis is performed, for example phase or magnitude. Usability has also been improved; the data selection list is now separated into curves and values, and within each category items are ordered according to the user’s memory list preference (sequence order or alphabetical order). The display name for the statistical data that is output to the memory list is also user-customizable.
SoundMap Fully Integrated
The SoundMap application for time frequency analysis is now integrated into SoundCheck as an offline processing option with the ability to directly access waveforms from the memory list. Customers who have purchased SoundMap as a stand-alone application will have this module added to their status.dat files, which will unlock the feature in SoundCheck.
Upgrade and Setup Wizard
A new upgrade and setup wizard makes it faster to set up a new system or upgrade from a previous version. For new users, it offers tools to assist with hardware setup and inputting appropriate settings. For upgrading users, it simplifies the process of bringing over preferences, hardware and calibration settings, and sequences from an older version.
Save 24-bit WAV Files
When saving WAV files from the memory list or via autosave the user can now choose the bit depth for the file, including 8, 16, and 24 bits.
SoundCheck 11.1 expands on the new features and functionality introduced in version 11.0 with expanded batch processing capability and full integration of the CLEAR algorithm into SoundCheck ONE. It offers increased flexibility with additional save to WAV file options and signal generator synchronization, and usability improvements such as mass export and hardware and calibration table enhancements.
Batch Processing in Limits and Post Processing
Batch processing (introduced in the analysis step in SoundCheck 11.0) is now also available in limits and post processing. In the limits step, this simplifies sequence writing for multi-channel testing as only one step is required to set limits on multiple channels rather than it being necessary to have a separate step per channel. In post-processing, it enables the user to process large data sets quickly offline. This saves time as hundreds of data sets can be processed in one operation instead of having to do each individually. This is useful for engineers who need to look at large quantities of production data and tweak the limits to see the effect on yield, or when it is necessary to change the resolution of many curves. When carrying out post-processing operations on a group of curves, this feature also enables you to be sure that you are applying an identical post-
processing operation on all of them.
New Save to WAV file Options
SoundCheck 11.1 offers new scaling options when saving to WAV file. In addition to normalized waveforms you can now also select ‘sound card values’ which scales the WAV file to the full scale deflection of the audio interface digital level, and ‘user defined’ which scales the waveform relative to a user defined physical unit. Both these new options make it simple to return the measurement back to the physical unit. This is a welcome feature for advanced users who sometimes wish to export data for customized mathematical analysis using other tools such as MatLab™.
CLEAR Algorithm in SoundCheck ONE
The CLEAR algorithm for perceptual Rub & Buzz measurement is now fully integrated into SoundCheck ONE where it operates using the log sweep stimulus.
Signal Generator Synchronization
Signal generator synchronization allows multiple signal generators to be synched in real time and in a sequence so they will start and stop simultaneously. This is important when checking the phasing of multiple channels such as loudspeaker and microphone arrays.
Multiple sequences can now be exported in a single operation. This saves time when upgrading from one version of SoundCheck to another and when transferring your sequences from one system to another.
Active Speech Level Stimulus Control (requires active speech module p/n 2033)
Users with the Active speech module (for telephony applications) can now set the stimulus level using the active speech level of the wavefile rather than the average level of the wavefile.
Hardware and Calibration table enhancements
In the table view of the hardware and calibration editors you can now sort the channels by clicking their column header. This simplifies viewing and editing when you have a lot of channels.
In SoundCheck 11.0, a shift from sequence-specific hardware and calibration to a system level hardware and calibration setup simplifies SoundCheck operation and reduces test setup time, while memory list refinements facilitate data management. Test flexibility is increased with the addition of multiple virtual istruments in an acquisition step, waveform batch processing in an analysis step, and the ability to set stimulus frequencies from a memory list value. Algorithm enhancements and additions include active speech level and perceptual Rub & Buzz measurements using a continuous sine sweep (with Log TSR analysis algorithm).
Global System Hardware and Calibration
SoundCheck 11 brings a shift from sequence-specific hardware and calibration to a system level hardware and calibration setup. This significant change means that the user only needs to enter the hardware configuration once and it will remain the same regardless of the selected sequence. This is particularly useful when working with sequences written by others who are not using the same hardware. When a sequence is imported, it will prompt the user to substitute the local hardware configuration instead of using the exported hardware information. Initial system setup is simple as hardware configurations can be imported from the hardware steps folder.
System calibration is also simplified, with the table view expanded to show more default channels. Using existing sequences is simple, as the new system calibration features a simple re-linking dialog for assigning new channels and importing existing ones. The main calibration editor also
allows the user to import calibrated device files and even entire .cal setups from older SoundCheck versions. The sequence editor is simplified since there is no need to select hardware and calibration steps.
Memory List Sorting and Grouping
The grouping and sorting capability introduced in version 10 has been improved for ease of use. Data may be sorted by name (alphabetically) or by order (order in which generated by sequence) and it may be auto-grouped by category or step. These settings, which can be toggled on and off, are continuously applied to all data in the memory list, so when data is added it is automatically sorted into the correct place. User-groups can also be created; these enable the user to pull out any data into a custom named group. In addition, the main menu has changed to a more intuitive function-based menu to simplify usage and avoid long drop down lists.
Virtual instruments in acquisition
Multiple Virtual Instruments can be opened simultaneously in the acquisition step for automation. The former drop down menu containing various VI combinations is replaced with a single choice named virtual instruments. This displays a table showing all the virtual instruments in that step. Selecting the appropriate row opens the instrument so that the settings can be checked or changed, and additional VIs can easily be added by right clicking. Virtual instrument configuration files can be loaded into the acquisition step for quick setup in any sequence.
Waveform Batch Processing
Waveform batch analysis is powerful option that enables a group of waveforms to be analyzed with just one step in a sequence, rather than having to program multiple analysis steps. This significantly simplifies sequences with multichannel acquisition. The feature is also available in offline mode where multiple waveforms can be grouped together in a custom group and the batch analysis operand applied to all simultaneously. Such offline analysis may be useful for detailed analysis of production line data. To help distinguish the output curves and values, the name of the response waveform can optionally be appended to the resulting data via a new option to “Add Input Data Name”.
Stimulus Frequency Variable
The Stimulus Frequency Variable feature enables a sequence to be programmed such that the start and stop frequencies can be read from a memory list value. This customer-requested feature offers additional test flexibility as the stimulus frequency may be entered from a prompt in the sequence, automatically generated, or even automatically incremented. This is particularly useful in an R&D environment where one may want to program a sequence to use a different test frequency range each time during experimentation, or automatically increment the stimulus frequency and perform sequential measurements at different frequencies, for example for testing Max SPL.
Active Speech Level (Optional module p/n 2033)
Active Speech Level is a post processing operation that, for a speech signal, evaluates levels for only the parts of the waveform where speech is actually present and ignores the parts where there is silence. It is widely used in telephony applications. The algorithm applied is described in ITU-T P.56 (05/93) Method B.
CLEAR Algorithm with Log TSR
The CLEAR algorithm for perceptual measurement of Rub & Buzz now works with a continuous sine sweep stimulus and Log TSR analysis. Log TSR is widely used for production line testing due to its speed and noise immunity; this development means that the perceptual Rub & Buzz analysis can be carried out at the same time as the other analysis functions e.g. Frequency response, THD, polarity, impedance, etc.
Standard Waveform Filter
In addition to the Arbitrary waveform filters (introduced in SoundCheck 10.0), a selection of Standard Waveform filters are now also available, including Butterworth high-pass, low-pass, band-pass and band-stop filters. These standard filters are useful for conditioning stimulus and response waveforms when you are making time domain measurements, or for band pass analysis in the time domain (e.g. speech intelligibility or attack and release testing). The arbitrary filters are often used for telephony and hearing aid applications and can also be used when you need to listen to the processed time signal for subjective evaluation. Both the Arbitrary and Standard waveform filters require SoundCheck module 2032: Waveform Filter.
RTA Analysis Algorithm
In addition to calculating the RTA spectrum of the response waveform, the RTA analysis algorithm now allows the option to calculate the spectrum of the stimulus as well as the overall frequency response (comparing the response to the stimulus). This is useful when analyzing non-stationary signals, for example speech signals in telephony where compensation needs to be made for a non-flat stimulus.
Memory List Search
The memory list now has a search function (shortcut key Ctrl+F) feature to find and highlight all items which match a search string. Advanced searching through the use of regular expressions is also possible as described in the context sensitive help window of the search string. This is particularly useful when the memory list contains a large number of curves such as in production line applications.
Zwicker Loudness Spectrum
The Zwicker Loudness feature (introduced in SoundCheck 10.0) has been extended with a new option to output the Loudness Spectrum to the Memory List. The units for the X-axis are selectable between Hz and Bark scale. The loudness spectrum allows the user to determine which frequencies are responsible for the loudness, and is useful for analysis of telephone ring tones.
Serial Number or Annotation in Memory List
The’ Protect’ and ‘Autoprotect’ features in the Memory List now append the serial number to the protected curve name. This offers a quick and easy way to annotate data by typing a comment into the serial number field.
Show Memory List on Opening Sequence
The sequence configuration dialog has a new feature which will show the memory list when the sequence is opened. This is convenient and useful for debugging sequences.
Improved CLEAR (Perceptual Rub & Buzz) Algorithm
Minor upgrades to the CLEAR Perceptual Rub & Buzz algorithm offer a lower variance and therefore less susceptibility to noise.
More Flexible Attack and Release Algorithm
The filtering steps in the Attack and Release algorithm (used for measurement of automatic gain control in telephony and hearing aids) have been separated out from the algorithm so that they may be user-defined. This offers more control to the user and increases the range of applications.
Improved Support for ASIO
LynxTwo ASIO driver now works on Windows XP, Windows 7-32, and Windows 7-64. CardDeluxe ASIO driver now works on Windows 7-32 bit. It does not yet work on Windows 7-64.
Better Data Organization with Memory List Grouping
The memory list, which functions as SoundCheck’s database of curves, values, waveforms and results, can now be organized into custom named folders. This enables grouping by step type (e.g. all calibration curves in one sub-folder), sequence order, name, or any other custom folder structure. The Windows Explorer-like tree can be expanded and hidden at any time and full functionality is available via a contextual right click menu. In addition, curves can be dragged and dropped onto graphs, values can be dragged onto tables, etc.
Multiple Virtual Instruments
Now many instances of the same virtual instrument may be opened at once. This means that for multi-channel applications, a new instance of the VI can be opened for each channel. It also enables both the spectrum analyzer and the RTA to simultaneously be viewed while running a sequence so real time live data can be viewed. By using two signal generators, signals can be mixed (e.g. pink noise and a sine sweep) for signal conditioning. Waveforms in the memory list may also now be played directly from the Signal Generator VI.
RTA Algorithm in Analysis Step (included with RTA VI optional module)
The RTA Algorithm, now available in the analysis step, applies the RTA filter bank on the selected response waveform and yields the average 1/n octave spectrum in the memory list. The advantage of this method over the RTA virtual instrument is that the analysis is perfectly synchronized with the stimulus, and the averaging time fits exactly to the length of the waveform. This eliminates the need for several stimulus repetitions and reduces the total test time. This function can also be used for multichannel acquisitions, giving the capability to use RTA analysis on multiple waveforms nearly simultaneously. This algorithm yields the exact same response spectrum measured with the RTA virtual instrument, and it conforms to the ANSI S1.11 – 2004 class 0 standard.
ASIO Driver Support
ASIO drivers generally offer excellent soundcard control, and ASIO support opens up a much wider range of professional audio and multichannel sound cards.
Stimulus Analyze/Ignore Option
The new ‘Analyze’ option in the stimulus editor allows the user to choose whether or not sections of the stimulus will be analyzed or ignored by an analysis step. This feature is particularly useful for telephony testing and for other devices that need to be conditioned before achieving a stable measurement. For example, the first section of the stimulus will contain a conditioning signal (like artificial speech) that will open the Voice Activity Detector. A second section will be the sine-based test signal to analyze (e.g. multitone or sine sweep). The Stimulus-Analyze option will tell the analysis step to process only the test signal and ignore the conditioning signal.
Zwicker Loudness (optional module)
Zwicker Loudness calculates the overall perceived loudness of a sound. This new post-processing operation uses a psycho-acoustic model which takes into account the nonlinearity of the human ear to sound at different frequencies and levels. It provides the capability to measure the perceived loudness of complex sounds, e.g. telephone ring tones.
Time Domain Waveform Filters (optional module)
The new Waveform Filter post-processing operation allows the user to choose a curve from the memory list, use it as the frequency response and apply it to a waveform in the memory list. The result is a new waveform that has its spectral content shaped by the selected curve. There is also an option for minimum phase and inverting the curve. This may be used, for example, for measuring the A-weighted peak acoustic pressure of a waveform. The A-weighting curve is first applied to the acoustic waveform via the waveform filtering post processing step, and then the peak value of the resulting waveform is measured. This method is used in the IEEE 269 and TIA 920 telephony standards.
Quick Polarity Test
A polarity test is often used to verify that a device is wired correctly. The quick polarity test is performed in an analysis step, and uses the impulse response from the Auto Delay function. It analyzes the peak of this impulse response and measures if it is negative or positive to determine overall polarity. It is a simple and easy alternative to phase domain testing for simple devices or single drivers where the phase does not change more than 180 degrees. Polarity measurement using phase response is still available as an alternative method for more complex devices
SoundCheck® 9.1 New Features
NEW CLEAR Perceptual Distortion Algorithm for Rub & Buzz Measurement
SoundCheck 9.1 introduces Listen’s new CLEAR (Cepstral Loudness Enhanced Algorithm for Rub & Buzz) algorithm for perceptual Rub & Buzz analysis. This new algorithm uses a simplified auditory perceptual model to measure the perceived loudness of the Rub & Buzz distortion in phons rather than the more traditional dB SPL and % distortion units. This model better identifies whether distortion due to manufacturing defects can be heard by the listener than conventional measurements. In addition to a result which corresponds more accurately to the human ear, this new test method also offers significant advantages for use on the production line. It is less sensitive to transient background noises than traditional methods, therefore is reliable in noisy environments. In addition, it is easier to set up. Since it analyzes all harmonics, the user does not have to select the harmonics to be analyzed, and limit setting is simpler as a flat line can be used regardless of frequency and level (rather than measurement relative to a reference standard as is necessary with conventional distortion measurements). Full details of the research leading to the development of this algorithm are given in the paper ‘Practical Measurement of Loudspeaker Distortion Using a Simplified Auditory Perceptual Model’.
The RTA has been re-designed to offer improved performance. The filters have been improved and fully tested for compliance with ANSI S1.11-2004, and the averaging time is more accurate. In addition, it is also now compatible with NI cards.
A device can now be selected in the hardware editor using its device ID rather than its name. This is useful for testing USB and Bluetooth devices where Windows software automatically changes the device name each time it is connected. Using the device ID instead of the name simplifies automation of tests for production line use.
Digital I/O cards with NIDAQmx drivers are now supported.
Windows 7 Compatibility
SoundCheck 9.1 has been fully tested for compatibility with both the 32 bit and 64 bit versions of Windows 7. Please consult Listen for Windows 7 Soundcard compatibility.
Hardware Key Number Display
The hardware key number is now displayed on the main panel. This facilitates vendor inspection of test software.
Perceptual Rub & Buzz using new CLEAR™ algorithm shows audible distortion more clearly. Traditional Rub & Buzz measurements do not take into account the insensitivity of the human ear to low and high frequencies, therefore making it more difficult to identify problem areas and set limits on a production line. This speaker clearly shows audible distortion below resonance (<100 Hz) and at cone breakup (750 Hz). Both curves are shown on a 60 dB scale for easier comparison even though the units are different (Perceptual distortion in Phons and traditional distortion in %).
SoundCheck® 9.0 New Features
SoundCheck® 9.0 offers a host of new features designed to offer ease of use, increased measurement accuracy, and simpler analysis and presentation of data.
SoundCheck® 9.0 supports AmpConnectTM, Listen’s new integrated hardware box which replaces a power amplifier, microphone power supply, impedance box and digital I/O card in your testing setup. AmpConnect can be fully controlled either via the sequence editor, or directly via a control panel that replicates the appearance of the front of the hardware.
SoundCheck ONETM, the low cost production test version of SoundCheck 9.0 consists of SoundCheck ONE software bundled with AmpConnect. Anyone who purchases / upgrades to SoundCheck 9 and purchases an AmpConnect within 6 months will have their SoundCheck 9.0 key programmed to also work in SoundCheck ONE mode. This enables the user to switch between SoundCheck 9.0 and SoundCheck ONE, so that sequences for SoundCheck ONE can be written without purchasing another system.
Loose Particle Algorithm
The improved Loose Particle Algorithm offers better noise immunity in production and other noisy environments as limits float with the normalized background noise rather than being set absolutely. In addition to simplifying limit setting, false rejections due to sudden increases in background noise are less likely. There is now also a setting for choosing a maximum stimulus frequency, above which the loose particle envelope is not calculated. As loose particles tend to present themselves during the low frequency portion of a stimulus sweep, this feature further prevents false rejects.
Curve smoothing with Nth octave resolution is now built into the analysis editor. Many measurements require the collection of large volumes of data, particularly at high frequencies where constant bandwidth analysis functions such as FFT and Log TSR are used. While such data quantities are essential for certain measurements, reducing the volume of data using curve smoothing offers three advantages:
since the number of data points is reduced, post-processing is faster, thus reducing the overall test time
- data can be reduced to a common resolution to easily compare different algorithms
- it produces smoother curves which looks good on data sheets and marketing materials.
This feature is available in the Time Selective Response, Spectrum, Transfer Function, and Multitone analysis types.
TSR Algorithm Maximum Harmonic Indicator
Log TSR sweeps are a popular test method, but inexperienced users may inadvertently miss important measurement details by sweeping too fast. For example, a given combination of window size and speed may be adequate for measuring Rub & Buzz, but insufficient to enable analysis of individual harmonics. The new indicator shows the maximum harmonic that can be selected independently of its neighbors. The indicator, while it does not place any restrictions on the user’s ability to define the speed and window size, will offer an advisory when the settings are such that individual harmonics will not be accurately calculated.
Choice of Impedance Measurement Method
SoundCheck® 9.0 supports the measurement of impedance using a resistor before the load (as used in AmpConnect) or after the load (as when using a Listen impedance box).
Advanced View for Stimulus Editor and Limits Editor
Both the Stimulus and Limits Editor menus now offer two views, basic and advanced. The basic views feature only the commonly adjusted settings, and by clicking on the advanced tab, many more are revealed. This keeps the software simple for novice and production line users while retaining the flexibility demanded by R&D applications.
Option to Switch to Demo Mode
SoundCheck can now be switched to Demo Mode without the need for a new hardware key. Running in demo mode will randomize data, but will allow the user to view and experiment with all modules and analysis algorithms prior to purchasing them. Users have the choice of launching the full version of SoundCheck or SoundCheck ONE in demo mode.
Simultaneously open multiple DAT Files
Several DAT files can now be opened at once from the Memory List. This is convenient when running statistics on a batch of curves and working with large numbers of files