From Radiohead to Vivaldi


From Radiohead to Vivaldi – How Ford Used an Eclectic Playlist to Perfect the Sound System in the New B-MAX

  • Tracks from artists as diverse as Black-Eyed Peas, Fugees and the Eagles help tailor audio system to new Ford B-MAX’s acoustics
  • Sound engineers listen to tracks thousands of times to “tune” car audio to meet acoustic demands of each new Ford’s uniquely-shaped interior
  • Mariah Carey, John Coltrane and classical composers including Vivaldi also make the cut in pursuit of the perfect sound set-up for B-MAX

B-Max Sound Image

COLOGNE, Germany, Feb. 7, 2012 – Every car – like every room or auditorium – has unique acoustics qualities. The size and shape of the cabin, the materials in the seats and dashboard, the ratio of glass and steel – all of it impact the sound quality in a new car.

When Ford engineers set out to fine tune the perfect sound system to match the acoustics of the new B-MAX multi-activity vehicle, they found they needed a special tool — the perfect music playlist.

Radiohead, Black-Eyed Peas, the Eagles and jazz legend John Coltrane rubbed shoulders with classical composers Vivaldi and Carl Orff on the B-MAX playlist as engineers used key moments in the songs and pieces to fine-tune the B-MAX sound system.

The classic opening to the Eagles’ anthem Hotel California features the ideal “dry” sound for testing bass, ambience and tone, says Ford of Europe audio engineer Matthias Terstegge.  He should know. He has listened to it thousands of times while developing the B-MAX and other Ford cars.

He also listened out for the powerful kick bass in Black-Eyed Peas’ track Just Can’t Get Enough to test the woofers in the B-MAX; tuning the low frequency filters in the amplifier unit to retain a strong and punchy bass sound without door buzz and rattles.

Bass sounds are evenly distributed but the treble is sensitive to seating position, so engineers tuned the tweeters using Vivaldi’s Four Seasons concertos and John Coltrane tracks to ensure a good front/rear balance.  The soaring Four Seasons violins were an exacting challenge for the B-MAX’s high-frequency tweeters. If they’re not set right, the sound could have been more piercing than pleasurable.

“Creating a great-sounding system is much more than choosing a good quality amplifier and speakers,” says Terstegge, a guitarist whose passion for music and electrical engineering background led him to his current role. He compiled the B-MAX playlist from other experts’ recommendations, tracks from his own collection or a song he heard on the radio and jotted down the name.

“Each car interior has completely different acoustics, and detailed tuning can make a dramatic difference to what the driver hears,” he says. “The human ear can detect subtle differences in the sound and you can’t beat simply listening to the system for that final tuning. The tracks we use really help identify what needs tuning.  But after thousands of plays, I feel like I never want to hear them again.”

The all-new Ford B-MAX will be available with an exclusive premium quality Sony audio system. It features eight high performance speakers and a 4 x 25 Watt Sony amplifier. Drivers can select music from the built-in CD/radio unit, including Digital Audio Broadcast, or from their own portable music players connected via USB or Bluetooth.