Music to your ears: The five best songs to test your car speakers

Estimated reading time:  
4 Minutes

Alongside making a handful of music recommendations to test your car speaker system, sound engineers from Land Rover and audio specialist Meridian use more than a decade’s worth of collaborative experience to explain the engineering and testing that goes into crafting the perfect in-car sound experience.

Hear the difference: 5 tracks to test your car speakers with

Meridian’s audio engineers have selected 5 songs from their extensive playlist for you to test the quality of your car speaker system.

1. Danger Mouse (ft. Norah Jones): Season’s Trees

One of the most influential musicians and producers of the early 21st century, Danger Mouse has perfected the art of blending and juxtaposing elements of rock, hip-hop and pop into a distinctive approach.

This song is a great example of how good a well-produced modern track can sound on a quality car speaker system. Also listen out for Norah Jones’s exceptional vocals.
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2. Eska: Gatekeeper

Zimbabwean-born Londoner Eska is a female solo artist whose unique sound is a complex tapestry of folk, soul and rock n’ roll, which has wowed crowds at Glastonbury and the Queen Elizabeth Hall in London.

This song has a very stripped-back audio track with lots of complementary female vocals. Immerse yourself in it and test your speakers’ ability to showcase those delicate vocal notes.
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3. GoGo Penguin: Murmuration

Manchester-based trio GoGo Penguin fuse traditional jazz with other musical inspirations, drawing equally on rock, electronica and minimalist influences. They say their sound is shaped by the intricacy of Aphex Twin, Four Tet and Avro, to create punchy, experimental yet beautiful music.

This song is great for checking your audio system is capable of maintaining the sense of acoustic space around the drums at the beginning. Also, the double bass tests your speakers’ low and mid frequency rate.
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4. Massive Attack: Teardrop

Massive Attack are the masterminds behind the trip-hop movement, a darkly sensual and cinematic sound fusion of hip-hop rhythms, soulful melodies, dub grooves and choice samples.

This song is a good test for your car speakers’ bass performance, alongside more delicate sounds from the piano and the vocals.
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5. Tycho: Awake

San Francisco-based electronic maestro Tycho is renowned for his blend of swirling melodies that crisscross between stuttering beats and vocal samples to create rolling sonic landscapes that extend into the horizon.

This song has lots of tones from the bass and different synth sounds to listen out for. With a correctly set-up car audio system, the variety of bass notes will excite you.
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Creating the perfect audio system: Getting the best out of your car speakers

Developing the perfect car speaker system involves several teams working together to develop the best set-up for each Land Rover.

The goal is to create an unrivalled authentic audio experience. The engineering teams at Land Rover and Meridian collaborate to develop the best car speaker system. This includes using the lightest speakers available and Meridian’s unique upmixing technology to give best audio performance.

The team starts by defining the desired performance and output for each vehicle. Whether you buy a Range Rover Evoque or a Land Rover Discovery, the best car speaker systems will give every person in the car the same audio experience.

Extensive testing is an important part of this. Using a broad playlist that captures most people’s tastes and genres helps the engineers test the car speakers to the maximum.

But how do they do it?

Engineering the perfect audio system requires a sharp ear, which is why all Land Rover and Meridian audio engineers are musically and acoustically trained. Without their expertise, your favourite song just wouldn’t sound right in the car.

Toby Newman, Land Rover Audio Engineer, says the initial set-up of the Meridian car audio system can take six weeks to perfect.

We put the vehicle through a number of tests where we calibrate the audio system. Our aim is to make sure the right amount of music comes from the right speaker and the right places in your vehicle. We want to transport you to the location where the recording was made.

Toby Newman
Land Rover Audio Engineer

The Land Rover team takes meticulous measurements from 12 locations around the vehicle to make sure the car speakers are perfectly tuned for each location.

The first set-up is done on a prototype Land Rover and lays the foundations for the final Meridian audio system. The engineering team does a final check of its proposed set-up just before the vehicle is launched, to confirm the audio set-up still works as they want.

While the initial set-up and testing is done by Land Rover, Meridian carry out all the fine-tuning to make the car speaker system perform at its best, whatever the track.

We look at the fine details to create good audio consistency across all genres of music that people are going to listen to. We have a team of engineers who tune a system. There are also a handful of senior engineers, who we call ‘Golden Ears’, who sign off every Meridian audio system to maintain a consistent listening experience across our products.

Michael Cousins
Meridian Audio Engineer

Once they have been tested through an extensive and demanding playlist and given the seal of approval, the Meridian audio system will go into production. That system is the very one you can enjoy listening to in your Land Rover or Range Rover. Find out more - Meridian for Land Rover

Music to our ears: The rigorous audio testing regime

The best way to check the consistency of complete audio frequency range in a Land Rover is to use a comprehensive playlist to test the Meridian audio system.

The audio engineering teams use a broad range of genres to hear if the car speaker system performs correctly.

This way the team can spot any potential problems and tune them out, as they will only reveal themselves through certain tracks.

The team also tests for different music tastes from across the world. For example, those who prefer heavy bass, compared to those who prefer the finer details within the vocals.

We want drivers and passengers to enjoy the music as the artist originally intended. We want every sound to be like-for-like. If you get that right, it’s right for everything. But you can only find out whether you got it right if you test it with enough different types of music.

Callum Hubbard
Land Rover Audio System Engineer

Size doesn’t matter: Testing car speakers by Land Rover

The Meridian audio system may be similar on each Land Rover, but that doesn’t mean one audio system will fit them all. For example, a Discovery Sport system will require a slightly different set-up to a Range Rover.

With the Range Rover’s Meridian Signature Sound System, the engineers can install more speakers to improve the overall experience. To give rear passengers the best listening experience, the Range Rover has speakers built into the back of the front seats –putting the music in front of the listener.

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However, in a Discovery Sport, the interior is more compact and the challenges for the audio engineering team are different.

To give the same rear passenger listening experience as in the Range Rover, fine adjustments have to be made to the audio signals to create the psychological illusion that the sound is coming from a centre speaker.

This acoustic trick is achieved by using speakers from two different locations and adjusting the audio signals so they appear to reach the listener’s ears at the same time.


Finding the happy medium: The Meridian sound

The default equaliser position in Land Rover Meridian audio systems is designed to give the best listening experience across a broad range of music.

However, listeners can tailor it with plenty of adjustment by using the vehicle’s equaliser screen.

There is a wide range of control within the equaliser settings. It might seem quite subtle if you knock it up or down a couple of notches, and on some tracks that’s all you need. However, the default Meridian sound is the best audio experience for the most people across the broadest range of tracks.

Andrew Manns
Land Rover Audio Components Group Leader

Cancelling the noise improves your listening experience

To create a fully insulated, surround music experience, Land Rover’s audio engineers use the latest noise-cancelling systems to save listeners needing to turn the volume up.

Listening to loud music for prolonged periods can become fatiguing on your ears. The more we can control the background noise in the cabin, the less people need to turn their music up in order to mask it. Noise cancellation technologies allow our customers to enjoy their music without having to listen at such high levels and gives a better overall acoustic experience.

Andrew Manns
Land Rover Audio Components Group Leader

Land Rover uses noise cancelling technologies on some of its cars, including Engine Audio Cancellation and Active Road Noise Cancellation. Both use microphones and sensors to monitor the sounds and frequencies entering the cabin and produce opposing sound waves to neutralise them.

Being able to detect and reduce these sounds preserves the acoustic space and lets the dynamics of the music shine through.

Engine Audio Cancellation

By using sensors in the engine bay, the amplifiers produce the equivalent sound frequency wave to cancel out the engine’s harmonics – this system is beneficial on plug-in hybrids as the vehicle’s engine will turn on when it’s required during a journey.

Active Road Noise Cancellation

Uses sensors and microphones to detect any unwanted road, tyre or wind noise, with the amplifier system cancelling out the lower frequencies. A new version of the system is in development. It will target and neutralise higher-frequency sounds.

The amplifiers in the Meridian audio systems deliver Land Rover’s audio cancellation systems. They use sensors in the vehicle to detect unwanted noises and play anti-noise, and that is done in parallel with the music playing.

Toby Newman
Land Rover Audio Engineer