It's easy to forget that amongst all the engine and chassis testing, selecting seats and trim and designing the interior and exterior, automakers also have to spend time developing in-car audio systems for the millions of drivers who listen to their favorite tunes on the way to work.
Chevrolet has some favorite tunes too - and it uses them to test the quality of a car's audio system by taxing it with the highest highs, lowest lows and a suitable mix of tones to ensure customers will get great audio whatever their choice of music. Even if it's "Friday" by Rebecca Black...
Matt Kirsch, lead audio engineer at Chevrolet is responsible for entertainment whether you drive an Aveo or a Corvette. It's his task to ensure that the audio system has a suitable dynamic range whatever music you listen to, and has created a playlist of ten tracks that push a sound system to its limits.
It's not just volume that matters either - clarity and definition is equally important whatever the volume. All very well having a great system if the sound distorts at high volumes or sounds tinny at lower ones. "Most people think that the best sound systems have to make the loudest noise possible, but you should listen for all-round dynamic tonality and punchy vocal characteristics to determine quality" says Kirsch.
His research isn't just limited to ten tracks though. In what sounds like the perfect job for music lovers, Kirsch spends all day listening to thousands of songs on CD, radio and through MP3 players to ensure that all are reproduced faithfully whatever Chevy you drive. Don't think it's all about kicking back and listening to music though: "It’s definitely not an easy job. We spend a huge amount of time tuning sound systems for ambiance and clarity, so that sitting in a car like the Chevrolet Cruze sounds like sitting in the front row at a concert hall."
So what are Matt and Chevrolet's top ten tunes? Here's the list in Chevy's own words from their press release:“Packt Like Sardines in a Crushd Tin Box” by Radiohead: listen for the punch from the percussive bass, and the ring of the steel drums“Bird on a Wire” by Johnny Cash: listen for the clarity in Johnny’s distinctive voice, and his guitar to sound natural and free of any colouration“Don’t Know Why” by Norah Jones: listen for Norah’s voice to sound natural, and centred in front of you“Diamonds and Rust” by Joan Baez: listen for strong vocals, and for the instruments to be set across a wide sound stage“No One” by Alicia Keys: listen for clarity in Alicia’s vocals and spacious background sound“Hotel California” by the Eagles: listen for the clarity and dynamic range during the opening guitar solo, and of course the powerful drum beat“Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas: listen for powerful, accurate bass beats, even at full volume“Rock that Body” by the Black Eyed Peas: listen to clear, intelligible lyrics over the powerful, persistent bass beat“Hide and Seek” by Imogen Heap: listen for the enveloping ambiance of the song, building on the openness and dynamic vocals“He Mele No Lilo” by Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu from “Lilo and Stitch”: listen for the ambience and staging as the children’s chorus is offset by powerful bass
Want to test drive them yourself? Matt has even set up an iTunes playlist
so you can replicate Chevrolet's work whatever car you drive...
So now we know what Chevy use to develop pumping audio - do you have any better suggestions? Let us know below!