Increasingly, vehicle engineers of all backgrounds are being taxed with restrictions on time, equipment and facilities due to competitive demands for cost and lead-time reductions. This has precipitated an industry-wide interest in processes which address these restrictions and allow engineers to “do more with less.”
Vehicle sound system development is just one example of a standard, necessary phase of premium vehicle design subject to continuous cutbacks. This complex, time-consuming effort spans a variety of disciplines such as transducer design, psychoacoustics and digital filters. However, the most significant contribution to the overall performance exists in the tuning of such system parameters as equalization, crossovers, gain staging, time-alignment, and other vehicle-specific audio parameters. This process is also the most time and equipment intensive and imposes extensive requirements on the facilities in which the tuning will occur, including a full-size prototype of the vehicle.
A new tool has been developed to address the taxing requirements of vehicle audio development, called “WinSPEED” (Windows System Parametric Equalization Environment in the Digital domain). Using WinSPEED, an entire rack of electronic equipment may be replaced in virtual form by a laptop computer and a notebook-sized piece of hardware. Furthermore, prototype audio hardware, previously a vehicle-specific, unreliable and time-consuming mock-up of soldered wires and chips, is replaced by one piece of universal prototype hardware, with all vehicle-specific parameters stored on a single EEPROM chip. The entire sound of a vehicle may be essentially stored as a text file on a PC which may then be changed and uploaded at will to the hardware. This paper will describe this system in detail, including both software and hardware design.