Tag Archive for: external control

100 Things #100: Production Line Audio Measurement With SoundCheck

Everyone knows SoundCheck is a versatile and flexible R&D audio test system. But did you know it’s also fast and cost-effective for production line audio measurement, and offers unrivaled integration with larger factory test environments?

End of line testing is nothing new to us. We started the global trend from human listeners and expensive hardware analyzers to software-based test systems back in 1995. Many of the measurements we introduced in the 1990s are still used today. Besides introducing newer and better measurement methods like perceptual algorithms, we’re driving the integration of audio testing within a larger factory test environment. Let’s take a look at some of the things that make SoundCheck great for end-of-line tests.

Production Line Audio Measurement with SoundCheck

 

Learn More About SoundCheck’s Production Line Features

Seminar Recording: External Control of SoundCheck. Detailed information about controlling SoundCheck as part of a large factory automation system.

Video: 100 Things #85: Integrate SoundCheck with your Database.

Video: 100 Things #11: External Control Using TCP/IP

Transitioning Audio Tests from R&D to the Production Line. An article by Steve Temme, reprinted from the March 2023 edition of AudioXpress.

 

Video Script: Production Line Audio Measurement

Everyone knows SoundCheck is a versatile and flexible R&D audio test system. But did you know it’s also fast and cost-effective for production line testing, and offers unrivaled integration with larger factory test environments?

End of line testing is nothing new to us. We started the global trend from human listeners and expensive hardware analyzers to software-based test systems back in 1995. Many of the measurements we introduced in the 1990s are still used today. Besides introducing newer and better measurement methods like perceptual algorithms, we’re driving the integration of audio testing within a larger factory test environment. Let’s take a look at some of the things that make SoundCheck great for end-of-line tests.

Most importantly, SoundCheck’s fast and reliable. Every test algorithm we’ve designed has speed and noise immunity at the forefront, from our unique stepped sine wave stimulus, Stweep, and Harmonictrak analysis back in 1995 to the second generation of perceptual distortion measurements in more recent years. And all our production line measurements, use the same stimulus to ensure fast throughput with simultaneous measurement of all parameters.

Soundcheck is hardware-agnostic, and compatible with many audio interfaces from our own custom designed all-in-one hardware to off the shelf soundcards. It even supports audio over IP with Dante. It works with any brand of amplifiers, microphones, couplers and test jigs. It’s also easy to control footswitches, PLCs, barcode readers and other production line equipment through a custom step in a test sequence. This gives you total flexibility, whether you are re-using existing hardware or building a system from scratch.

Both hardware and software are modular, so you can get the production functionality you need, without paying for anything that you don’t. Although a production system is significantly cheaper than an R&D SoundCheck system, it’s still fully compatible – you can create tests on an R&D system and send them to your production systems, or bring results from your production system back into an R&D system for detailed analysis.

However, it’s the seamless integration with custom factory test systems that really differentiates SoundCheck.

Full TCP/IP control lets SoundCheck communicate on any operating system, via any TCP/IP-supportive language including python, c-sharp and Labview. TCP/IP commands can trigger a test, pass the output back to an external program, or even pull in externally stored sequence parameters such as limits and stimuli. This allows the same test sequence to be used for many different products, reducing the sequence maintenance burden.

SoundCheck is just as flexible for saving data. Standard data formats include text, csv, Excel, TDMS, Matlab and SoundCheck’s open source binary file format. There’s also a plugin for WATS Test Data Management software. You can use an autosave step in your sequence to write curves, values, results, or waveforms directly to an SQL database each time a sequence is run, and industry standard tools can then be harnessed to run analytics over large data sets. If these options aren’t enough, all the data, curves, and other  items saved in SoundCheck’s memory list, can always be accessed directly via TCP/IP, so you can write your own customized program to collect exactly the SoundCheck data you need.

SoundCheck’s built-in security features provide peace of mind if you share your tests with manufacturing partners. Sequence protection locks and hides all the information in a sequence so that it can be run, but not viewed or altered. So you have confidence that your products are tested exactly how you intended. No-one can adjust the limits to achieve higher yield, and it removes the risk of  your tests being modified and re-purposed for use on other product lines. To add further security and measurement confidence, a sequence can even be configured to only run on a particular SoundCheck system, or block of system hardware keys.

These features let you bring the power of SoundCheck into pretty much any large automated test platform, no matter what software and operating system it is running on. Talk to your sales engineer to learn more.

 

 

SoundCheck 18 Released: New Features for Large-scale Integration and Multi-channel / Voice-activated Device Testing

SoundCheck 18, the latest release of Listen, Inc.’s flagship audio test and measurement system, contains many new features focused on automation and simplicity. Some of these are specifically designed for large-scale integration in factory environments, while others are designed to accelerate R&D testing, particularly where multiple channels are required and/or voice-activated devices are being tested.

Test configuration data, such as limits, test levels, and test signals, can now be passed into SoundCheck from external programs using TCP/IP commands. By externally storing parameters, 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. This functionality 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, or where SoundCheck tests are run as part of a larger automated test framework controlled using Python, C#, Visual Basic, LabVIEW, etc.

Setup time is reduced with true plug’n’play hardware configuration. Listen and Portland Tool & Die interfaces are simply connected via the USB cable, and the software automatically creates input and output signal paths and populates parameters such as sampling rate and calibration values. Furthermore, 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 offers significant time-savings when deploying a sequence over multiple stations accelerating set-up time for large-scale operations. New TEDS Support (with compatible Listen hardware) enables automatic identification, configuration and calibration of TEDS microphones and accelerometers, also saving time on initial hardware setup or whenever hardware is changed.

The development and optimization of test sequences has been simplified with improvements to gain control selection. Similarly, sampling rate management has been streamlined with automatic latency rate adjustment for devices where latency varies with sampling rate, and the ability to set sampling rate in the stimulus editor. Sampling rate when using WAV files is also now automatically adjusted, making it simpler to make measurement with wave file signals such as speech or music.

For MEMS microphone tests, the Portland Tool & Die MEMS interfaces can now be controlled from within SoundCheck for faster setup 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.

Additional new features include WASAPI driver support for improved multichannel capabilities, and enhanced digital I/O control for easy conversion of sequences between hardware options.

Watch the New Features Video   

External Control of SoundCheck via TCP/IP

TCP/IP control of SoundCheck provides a powerful and expandable command format for controlling and interacting with SoundCheck via any programming language (C#, C++, MATLAB, VB.net, LabVIEW, Python, etc.), on any operating system, either locally or through a network. This is valuable for anyone wishing to control SoundCheck from an external program, e.g. as part of an overall test plan or for factory automation. Using this feature, a single computer can control multiple SoundCheck systems, simplifying production line measurements.

The ability to connect to, and control SoundCheck via TCP/IP first appeared in SoundCheck over 3 years ago, but for version 18, it has been enhanced with the ability to pass test configuration data into the memory list from external programs. This means, for example, that by externally storing parameters such as limits, test levels, and test signals, a single sequence can be used for multiple products, or testing the same product multiple times, simplifying sequence maintenance, and reducing test configuration time.

This application note and accompanying demo scripts walk you through how to use Python to:

  • Control a simple loudspeaker test setup, launching SoundCheck and running a sequence
  • Run a simple frequency response sequence from a command line interface, creating placeholder curves, values, results and waveforms in the MemoryList and pass values into the placeholders via external control.
  • Read a WAV file and use it as a stimulus for performing an FFT Spectrum measurement in SoundCheck

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