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In-Vehicle Distortion Measurement

Authors: 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 will help determine audible distortion and enable manufacturers to test sound equipment after it is installed

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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

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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

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The Correlation Between Distortion Audibility and Listener Preference in Headphones

It is well-known that the frequency response of loudspeakers and headphones has a dramatic impact on sound quality and listener preference, but what role does distortion have on perceived sound quality? To answer this question, five popular headphones with varying degrees of distortion were selected and equalized to the same frequency response. Trained listeners compared them subjectively using music as the test signal, and the distortion of each headphone was measured objectively using a well-known commercial audio test system. The correlation between subjective listener preference and objective distortion measurement is discussed.

Authors: Steve Temme, Sean E. Olive*, Steve Tatarunis, Todd Welti*, and Elisabeth McMullin*            *Harman International
Presented at the 137th AES Conference, Los Angeles 2014

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Measurement of Harmonic Distortion Audibility Using A Simplified Psychoacoustic Model – Updated

A perceptual method is proposed for measuring harmonic distortion audibility. This method is similar to the CLEAR (Cepstral Loudness Enhanced Algorithm for Rub & buzz) algorithm previously proposed by the authors as a means of detecting audible Rub & Buzz which is an extreme type of distortion[1,2]. Both methods are based on the Perceptual Evaluation of Audio Quality (PEAQ) standard[3]. In the present work, in order to estimate the audibility of regular harmonic distortion, additional psychoacoustic variables are added to the CLEAR algorithm. These variables are then combined using an artificial neural network approach to derive a metric that is indicative of the overall audible harmonic distortion. Experimental results on headphones are presented to justify the accuracy of the model.

Authors: Steve Temme, Pascal Brunet and Parastoo Qarabaqi
Presented at the 51st AES Conference, Helsinki, Finland, 2013

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Are You Shipping Defective Loudspeakers to your Customers?

Author: Steve Temme

Loudspeaker distortion is undesirable. The type and level of distortion, however, can greatly influence the perceived annoyance. In addition, identifying the type of distortion can also help pinpoint the mechanism or mechanisms in the loudspeaker that are causing the distortion. “Rub & Buzz” is a good example of a particularly annoying type of distortion that is very difficult to measure. Pinpointing the cause of the problem from the measurement is an even more difficult task. Understanding why this type of distortion is so annoying and how to measure it is critical in being able to properly test loudspeakers on the production line.
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Audio Distortion Measurements

Author: Steve Temme

In the never ending quest for better sound transmission, reinforcement, and reproduction, the electronics have been extensively analyzed for distortion. Distortion in the electroacoustic transducers, while typically several orders of magnitude greater, has often been neglected or not even specified because it has been difficult to measure and interpret. With a basic understanding of transducer limitations, some knowledge of human hearing, and the application of different distortion test methods, electroacoustic transducer distortion becomes easier to measure and assess. Note: Although this paper was written over 20 years ago, the principles are still true today.
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