American DJ Larry Lujack once said: “When buying a used car, punch the buttons on the radio. If all the stations are rock and roll, there’s a good chance the transmission is shot.”
Probably not the best bit of used car buying advice, but a handy reminder of the relationship between driving and listening to music. Summer for us inevitably brings about ‘Best Driving Song’ lists, musical tie-ins and a host of music-related special edition cars.
The most prominent is Renault’s links with BOSE and the subsequent BOSE sound system special editions. However, Chevrolet is not far behind after it revealed the secrets to its own acoustics.
Matt Kirsch is a lead audio engineer at Chevrolet and his job is to think about acoustics – something we often take for granted in new and used cars.
“It’s really important that we are able to create an environment that perfectly captures the acoustics and vocals of the music being listened to, whether through an MP3 device or just the radio, all the while being aware of the general noises that cars make as well as important things going on outside of the vehicle that the driver still needs to be aware of, he explained.
And, as this blog is packed full of buying advice, we thought we’d share Matt’s choices of ten songs you should listen to on a car test drive in order to put the sound system through its paces. We hope you’re a fan of the Black Eyed Peas!
“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 coloration
“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 ambience 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
Luckily, Matt’s research has its benefits for Chevrolet’s new car range, including the new Chevrolet Cruze hatchback.
“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.
The Chevrolet Cruze hatchback will go on sale in the UK later in the year, and with Matt’s work, it will continue Chevrolet’s strong links with the music industry. In fact, the brand says there are over 600 songs which use the word Chevrolet in – but we’re not going to try to name them!