Tag Archive for: automotive audio

Automotive Audio: 2024 AES 5th International Conference

June 26-28th 2024, Gothenburg, Sweden.

We’re excited to participate in the 2024 AES 5th International Conference on Automotive Audio. We’ll be demonstrating SoundCheck’s advanced toolkit for automotive audio test, which includes software and hardware for a wide range of in-car audio tests, both in the R&D lab and the production line.

Measurements include frequency response, impulsive distortion, Max SPL, automotive tuning, spatial audio, hands-free communications, Carplay and Android Auto, Road noise, ANC testing and more.

At the event, Steve Temme is participating in the workshop: ‘White Paper: In-car Acoustic Measurements: recap + next steps’. This event is scheduled for 2.45pm on Friday June 28th. In this workshop/panel discussion, panelists will discuss an AES TC-AA white paper that aims to bring consensus to measuring essential audio attributes in a car by standardizing measurement methods for frequency response, max SPL, and impulsive distortion. The panel will discuss progress so far, solicit audience feedback, and provide demonstrations.

We hope to see you there!

Automotive Audio Measurements (Seminar): Frequency Response, Max SPL, Buzz, Squeak & Rattle

In this practical online seminar, Steve Temme demonstrates in-car measurement of frequency response, Max SPL, and Buzz, Squeak and Rattle using a Bluetooth connection. He discusses considerations such as physical setup, infotainment system controls and the measurement parameters. We then discuss connectivity for automotive testing, explaining and demonstrating the various connectivity options including USB drive, Bluetooth and A2B bus. Finally, we take a look at some of the other audio measurements that you can make using SoundCheck, for example active noise cancellation and voice assistance readiness.

Automotive Audio testing demonstrations include:

  • Frequency Response
  • Max SPL and Max SPL Spectrum
  • Buzz, Squeak & Rattle
  • Connectivity Options – USB, Bluetooth, A2B bus
  • ANC and Voice assistance readiness

Presenters: Steve Temme
Duration: 32 Mins

Automotive Audio Measurement Resources

This seminar was originally broadcast on July 21st 2022. The recording below does not include the live Q&A at the end for attendee confidentiality reasons. However, several links to additional resources were provided during the Q&A session, and these are provided below.

  1. Test sequence for in-car audio measurements. This sequence measures the impulsive distortion, frequency response, and maximum sound pressure level of a vehicle
  2. An article by Steve Temme on automotive Max SPL measurements. Originally published in VoiceCoil magazine, June 2022.

More about how to Measure Automotive Audio

Check out our main page on Automotive Audio Testing, which includes links to test sequences, relevant products and more.

Learn more about Connecting to Automotive Infotainment Systems

Maximum SPL measurements in cars

Buzz, Squeak and Rattle measurements

AES Technical Committee on Automotive Audio. Listen, Inc. works closely with this group to ensure that our measurement capabilities align with the measurements recommended by the AES.

Enhanced Perceptual Rub & Buzz Measurement for Testing Automotive Loudspeakers

Loudspeaker Rub & Buzz faults are a problem for automotive manufacturers as they sound harsh and immediately give the perception of poor quality. There are two places such faults can occur – during speaker manufacturing and installation of the speaker in the car. A buzzing loudspeaker in a car is disappointing to a customer and is costly to replace. It is also challenging for a service center to determine exactly where the buzzing is coming from and whether it is caused by a faulty loudspeaker or bad installation. Perceptual distortion measurements are often considered the holy grail of end-of-line testing because rejecting speakers with only audible faults increases yield. Although such measurements have been around since 2011, production line adoption has been slow because until now, sensitivity to background noise has made limit-setting challenging. In this paper, a new algorithm is introduced that uses advanced technology to reduce the impact of background noise on the measurement and offer more repeatable results. This facilitates limit setting on the production line and makes it a truly viable production line metric for increasing yield. This same metric may also be used for end-of-line automotive quality control tests. Results from various algorithms will be shown, and their correlation to subjective and other non-perceptual distortion metrics explained.

Author: Steve Temme, Listen, Inc.
Presented at 2022 AES Automotive Conference, Dearborn, MI

Full Paper

 

Introduction

The automotive industry’s stringent quality expectations make end-of-line quality testing on automotive speakers and drivers absolutely critical. End-of-line tests typically measure a range of parameters including frequency response, THD, and polarity. Manufacturing-introduced defects such as Rub & Buzz and Loose Particles are also measured. Reliable, automated testing has been available for decades now, and most large manufacturers rely on these software-based systems for identification and rejection of defective products. While these tests do an excellent job of identifying defective units, there is always a certain level of false rejection where units with some distortion fail even though it is completely inaudible to the human ear. From a manufacturing perspective, higher yields and therefore greater profitability is always desirable.

Perceptual Distortion Measurements

This has driven the development of perceptual distortion measurements – automated measurements that replicate the human hearing to detect only audible distortion defects. Such metrics increase production line yield by passing products with inaudible distortion, as the product will still sound exactly as the manufacturer intended. Perceptual methods are very simple to configure for production line use. Since they return a result in Phons, an absolute measurement that can be easily correlated to the listener’s threshold of hearing, the operator can set a fixed limit across the board, regardless of product. Naturally, the price point and quality expectations for the product may influence the level of distortion that is deemed acceptable.

Perceptual Distortion Algorithms

Our algorithm, introduced in 2011, was the first commercial perceptual distortion metric, although in the past couple of years, other test system manufacturers have also started to offer perceptual distortion tests. It offers excellent correlation with human hearing and performs well in laboratory tests. However, like the human ear, repeatability decreases in the presence of background noise. This is not a failure of the algorithm as such, but an indication that the algorithm performs just like a human listener; when background noise is high, audible distortion is masked. This limitation restricts the value of such algorithms on the production line, as with today’s high-volume manufacturing, there is only time for one fast test sweep. If this sweep gets a different result under changing background noise conditions, limit setting becomes challenging, and repeatability and reliability is decreased. Similar algorithms from other test system manufacturers also suffer from the same problems.

New Perceptual Distortion Algorithm Development

This paper details efforts to create an algorithm that hears like a human in quiet conditions, e.g. in a living room or passenger automotive cabin, under the less-than-perfect conditions of a manufacturing environment where considerable and varying background noise may be present. In other words, a perceptual model that is more independent and reliable than the human ear when it comes to noisy environments. The resulting new algorithm overcomes these limitations to offer repeatable end-of-line test results, even in noisy environments. It incorporates noise reduction techniques and enhanced perceptual filters to overcome the reliability and high frequency masking issues of earlier versions. In short, the algorithm offers the performance of an ‘enhanced’ human ear – it detects distortion like an ear in a quiet environment, even when there is background noise. This makes it a viable solution for production line use.

In this paper we explain how the algorithm works, demonstrate how the results compare with earlier perceptual algorithms and show its correlation with human hearing and conventional distortion algorithms. We also compare its performance in the presence of background noise to other perceptual algorithms by adding recorded factory background noise to the signal before passing it through the algorithms.

Read More

More about Listen’s enhanced Perceptual Rub & Buzz algorithm

More about in-car measurement of  impulsive distortion / Buzz, Squeak and Rattle.

New AmpConnect 621 Multichannel, Multifunction Audio Interface

AmpConnect 621

The new AmpConnect 621 is Listen’s next generation multichannel, multifunction, high resolution audio test interface. It is ideal for any application where more than 2 channels are needed, for example, automotive audio, voice-activated device measurements, sound power measurements and measuring devices with multiple speakers such as soundbars and smartphones. With a sample rate of up to 192kHz, it is also a great choice for measuring high resolution devices such as headphones and hearables. Additionally, it includes all the functionality required for audio testing in just one unit, including an amplifier, microphone power supply, line outputs and digital I/O.

AmpConnect 621 features 6 inputs, 2 line outputs and one amplifier output. All inputs offer microphone power (SCM, IEPE and pre-polarized), to accommodate many types of couplers, accelerometers and reference microphones – even the new Brüel and Kjær 5128 high resolution head and torso simulator. Full TEDS support for microphones and accelerometers simplifies setup and calibration by importing the data at the click of a button. The 2 line level outputs plus  a separate 50W amplifier route the output signal to any sources, powered or needing amplification, (e.g. artificial mouth, speakers, headphones, automotive head units). Impedance measurements using the amplifier output, along with output voltage monitoring, are performed entirely internally and do not require using any of the 6 external input channels, leaving them open for other measurements. This, along with digital I/O, simplifies operation as signals are all routed internally with no additional cabling required. The device connects to the computer with a single USB cable; the only additional cables required are those connecting your microphones and DUTs. This all-in-one approach offers excellent ground loop immunity in comparison to discrete components.

The interface has no control knobs on the front; control is entirely through the SoundCheck software interface. This minimizes errors by making it impossible for settings to be accidentally changed. For example, in a production environment, the only way the operator can adjust the settings is by modifying the test sequence, and access to this can be restricted via operator access rights. This helps OEMs ensure test integrity when requiring contract manufacturers or offshore manufacturing facilities to run their test sequences. This is also advantageous for protecting against accidental changes in a laboratory, particularly when multiple people are accessing the same piece of equipment. The front panel features visual indicators for power, input and output level, amplifier channel and level so that overloads, etc. can be clearly identified.

Test deployment is fast with full plug and play functionality. Channel configuration is fully automatic when the AmpConnect 621 is connected to the SoundCheck computer – the user just needs to adjust driver selection and sampling rate if different from the default values. Calibration data is read from TEDS microphones in SoundCheck’s calibration editor, or easily imported from a calibration file. When setting up multiple systems, the AmpConnect only needs to be configured once, and the setup can be duplicated to other test stations; there is no need to re-configure AmpConnect 621 each time.

AmpConnect 621 offers the option to use WASAPI-exclusive mode with Windows 10 audio devices in addition to the more commonly used ASIO drivers. This advanced communication protocol allows SoundCheck to bypass the Windows audio mixer, sending audio streams directly to the device. This results in lower latency and ensures that there is no sample rate conversion behind the scenes. It also enables SoundCheck to put an exclusive lock on the audio interface so that a measurement cannot be disrupted by system sounds which is valuable in highly automated settings. Multiple WASAPI devices can be used simultaneously, and WASAPI and ASIO devices can be combined to increase channel availability.

Like Listen’s other hardware products, AmpConnect 621 is built to last in production environments. The 17” wide x 2-Units (3.5”) high x 11.5” deep rack-mountable unit is rugged with a new fingerprint-resistant matte finish.

 

View Product Page

Practical Testing of Voice Controlled Devices

Author: Steve Temme.  Reprinted from the Jan 2020 issue of AudioXpress.

This article discusses tools and techniques that are available to accurately measure the audio performance of voice-controlled and connected devices under the many various real-world conditions they may be used. It covers basic acoustic measurements such as frequency and distortion response, which have always been carried out on conventional wired systems, and the more complex real-world tests that apply specifically to voice-activated devices, along withthe techniques and standards that may be used.
Full Article

 

 

 

 

 

SoundCheck/Mentor A2B for Automotive Audio

mentor_a2bWe are excited to announce that SoundCheck fully integrates with the Mentor A2B interface for testing automotive audio connected via the Analog Devices A2B digital bus. The Mentor Analyzer, which handles the transmission of signal in to and out of the bus, is viewed as an ASIO interface by SoundCheck, enabling SoundCheck to read/write to the device and therefore analyze any transducer connected to the A2B bus. A custom VI permits control of the Mentor A2B interface configuration via SoundCheck. This means that it can be controlled from within a SoundCheck sequence, for example loading configurations and starting/stopping ASIO streams. This makes it an ideal R&D or production line test solution for automotive audio, or for anyone testing transducers connected via A2B bus.

Watch a video demonstration of an automotive audio test using SoundCheck and the Mentor A2B interface:

 

Please see our knowledgebase article for download links and installation instructions.

Learn more about connecting to automotive infotainment systems.

Contact your Listen sales engineer for more information.

Evaluation of audio test methods and measurements for end-of-line loudspeaker quality control

In order to minimize costly warranty repairs, loudspeaker OEMS impose tight specifications and a “total quality” requirement on their part suppliers. At the same time, they also require low prices. This makes it important for driver manufacturers and contract manufacturers to work with their OEM customers to define reasonable specifications and tolerances. They must understand both how the loudspeaker OEMS are testing as part of their incoming QC and also how to implement their own end-of-line measurements to ensure correlation between the two.

Authors: Steve Temme, Listen, Inc. and Viktor Dobos, Harman/Becker Automotive Systems Kft.
Presented at ISEAT 2017, Shenzhen, China

Full Paper

In-Vehicle Distortion Measurement

In-vehicle loudspeaker measurements and distortion audibility articleAuthors: Zarina Bhimani, Steve F. Temme (Listen, Inc.), Patrick Dennis (Nissan Motor Co.).  Reprinted from the 2017 Loudspeaker Industry Sourcebook.

Steve Temme and Patrick Dennis discuss their research exploring test methods that help determine audible distortion and enable manufacturers to test sound equipment after it is installed. Configurations for measuring in-car audio are shown. Objective measurements are made and correlated with subjective analysis, and conclusions drawn as to the level at which music sounds distorted.

Full Article

 

Abstract

Although most automotive speaker manufacturers carry out thorough end-of-line (EOL) driver testing (in many cases, 100% of product), many automotive manufacturers do not test the speakers once they are installed. It is possible for a speaker to develop a fault through damage in transit, handling, or installation. Furthermore, the simple act of installing a loudspeaker into a car can result in vibration issues caused by mounting and other components in the car. Such issues can prove costly for automotive manufacturers. It is not uncommon for a car dealer to install a new set of speakers in a car if a customer complains about sound quality issues. It is, therefore, advisable for automotive manufacturers to invest in both incoming speaker QC and complete EOL testing of installed systems.

Automotive Audio Test Equipment

The test equipment for incoming QC and in-vehicle testing is similar to EOL production tests. In fact the test setup for incoming QC is practically identical to that used in driver manufacturing facilities worldwide. This simple setup consists of an amplifier to drive the speaker, a measurement microphone, and software to measure frequency response, distortion (particularly Rub & Buzz), and polarity. In-vehicle testing is implemented with similar equipment, but the setup differs in that the audio signal is transmitted from the measurement software via an audio interface to the auxiliary, Bluetooth, or USB input to the head unit.

The test signal is played through the speakers, and the signal is picked up by a centrally positioned microphone. Care must be taken in positioning the microphone to ensure that the path from speaker to microphone is not blocked by seats or other parts of the car’s interior. Usually the best position is on, or suspended above, the front seat arm rest.

A single measurement of frequency response and Rub & Buzz is usually sufficient to ensure that the audio profile measured in the car meets specifications. If there are discrepancies, each speaker can then be measured independently (including additional measurements such as polarity) to help identify the cause. Any microphones in the car (e.g., part of a voice control/ telematics system) can also be tested using the same equipment and the car’s own speaker to play the test signal).

A similar test setup can be used for R&D testing (e.g., for voicing the audio system to the car). This might include speaker positioning and equalization of the system for correct tonal and spatial balance including left/right (L/R) and front/back balancing. It may also be used for microphone positioning and directivity measurements and noise cancellation performance.

Full Article

 

More about SoundCheck for Automotive Audio Measurement

More about automotive distortion (Buzz, Squeak and Rattle, Impulsive Distortion) measurement.

AES Technical Committee on Automotive Audio

Evaluation of Audio Test Methods and Measurements for End-of-Line Automotive Loudspeaker Quality Control

In order to minimize costly warranty repairs, automotive manufacturers impose tight specifications and a “total quality” requirement on their part suppliers. At the same time, they also require low prices. This makes it important for automotive manufacturers to work with automotive loudspeaker suppliers to define reasonable specifications and tolerances, and to understand both how the loudspeaker manufacturers are testing and also how to implement their own measurements for incoming QC purposes.

Specifying and testing automotive loudspeakers can be tricky since loudspeakers are inherently nonlinear, time variant and affected by their working conditions & environment which can be change dramatically and rapidly in a vehicle. This paper examines the loudspeaker characteristics that can be measured, and discusses common pitfalls and how to avoid them on a loudspeaker production line. Several different audio test methods and measurements for end-of-the-line automotive speaker quality control are evaluated, and the most relevant ones identified. Speed, statistics, and full traceability are also discussed.

Authors: Steve Temme, Listen, Inc. and Viktor Dobos, Harman/Becker Automotive Systems Kft.
Presented at the 142nd AES Convention, Berlin, Germany

Full Paper

In-Vehicle Audio System Distortion Audibility versus Level and Its Impact on Perceived Sound Quality

As in-vehicle audio system output level increases, so too does audio distortion. At what level is distortion audible and how is sound quality perceived as level increases? Binaural recordings of musical excerpts played through the in-vehicle audio system at various volume levels were made in the driver’s position. These were adjusted to equal loudness and played through a low distortion reference headphone. Listeners ranked both distortion audibility and perceived sound quality. The distortion at each volume level was also measured objectively using a commercial audio test system. The correlation between perceived sound quality and objective distortion measurements is discussed.

Authors: Steve Temme, Listen, Inc. and Patrick Dennis, Nissan Technical Center North America, Inc.,
Presented at the 141st AES Convention, Los Angeles, CA 2015

Full Paper