As today’s automotive audio systems rapidly evolve, it is unclear if the current perceptual assessment protocols fully capture the human sensations evoked by such new systems. The highly complex and acoustically hostile environment of the automobile cabin hinders the effectiveness of standard objective metrics, while lacking robustness, repeatability, and perceptual relevance. This report examines the current assessment protocols and their identified limitations. A new design of an assessment protocol is proposed. It uses the Spatial Decomposition Method for acquiring, analyzing, and reproducing the sound field in a laboratory over loudspeakers, thereby allowing instant comparisons of automotive audio systems. A rapid sensory analysis protocol, the Flash Profile, is employed for evaluating the perceptual experience using individually elicited attributes, in a time-efficient manner. A pilot experiment is described, where experts, experienced, and naive assessors followed the procedure and evaluated three sound fields. Current findings suggest that this method allows for the assessment of both spatial and timbral properties of automotive sound.
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