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Ford Uses Trained Listeners to Perfect B&O PLAY Audio Systems for 2018 EcoSport, Expedition

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Every bit as imperative to the driving experience as the driving itself is the ability to listen to music (or audiobooks or podcasts), a fact that Ford Motor Company well understands and had at heart when it moved to make HARMAN’s B&O PLAY audio system available in both its all-new 2018 Ford EcoSport and 2018 Ford Expedition.

Rather than rely on cold data to determine the ways to best optimize the B&O PLAY audio system available in the EcoSport and Expedition, Ford employed the feedback of HARMAN-trained listeners to tweak its sound systems for as much as 1,200 hours per vehicle over a 24-month period until they were sure that they had gotten it just right.

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“You can look at speaker measurements and architecture details to try and determine how best to tune a car’s audio system, but that doesn’t tell the full story,” said Michael O’Brien, Ford SUV Group Marketing manager. “Using trained human listeners is what makes the EcoSport and Expedition audio systems deliver tailored but consistently high-quality audio that can help customers look forward to every drive.”


These listeners were first selected based on factors including age, ethnicity, height, and sex. In an isolated space with acoustics comparable to that of a living room, these listeners would listen to seven 30-second snatches of music and focus on elements including bass, tonal qualities in voices, and instrument reproduction.

They would then repeat the same process in a development vehicle and compare that experience to that of being in the living-room-like space. They would note instances of distortion, buzzing, or vibration, and share their feedback with engineers for improvement.


The 2018 Ford Expedition will have an optional 12-speaker B&O PLAY system with subwoofer and 10-channel amp with digital processing. The 2018 EcoSport Titanium will come standard with a 10-speaker B&O PLAY system with tweeters in the front doors and subwoofer in the rear. Ford will eventually roll the B&O PLAY audio system out as an option for additional vehicles in its lineup.

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