Selling Sound: Testing, Designing, and Marketing Sound in the European Car Industry

Eefje Cleophas and Karin Bijsterveld

in The Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780195388947
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Selling Sound: Testing, Designing, and Marketing Sound in the European Car Industry

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Since the late 1990s, leading automobile manufacturers have advertised the sonic qualities and interior tranquility of their vehicles with increasing zeal. This article focuses on the rise of a new tradition of testing car sound in the European automotive industry in the 1990s. It explores three issues: the way in which defining the “reality” of sound perception and differences between expert and lay listeners affects the dynamics of testing in car manufacturing, the reason that extensive testing of car sound does not automatically result in the design of new target sounds, and where this increasing significance of sound design in the consumer industry comes from. It clarifies how new sense-oriented ways of marketing and designing cars have prompted new ways of testing. Finally, the article shows that a mismatch can occur between testing and design of consumer products, providing insight into the consequences of this sonic sensitivity for traditions of testability.

Keywords: automobile; sonic qualities; car sound; car manufacturing; sound design; sound perception

Article.  10136 words. 

Subjects: Music ; Sound Studies ; Ethnomusicology

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