Sound can contribute to a consumer’s overall evaluation of a product in terms of its acceptability and function. Sound may enhance, as well as detract from the pleasure in using a product. Sound may also indicate how well the product is working. Manufacturers are often faced with negative reactions to the sound of their products and may be uncertain as to how to improve the sound. All of these issues, coupled with the need for manufacturers to develop high-end and international markets, has made product sound an important product attribute. Acentech was asked to measure the sound quality of font-loading washing machines for an international manufacturer.

This project used procedures that could be incorporated into the design process to identify and enhance positive attributes of the sound of a radically different washing machine. The approach combined product sound analysis to identify the major components responsible for the overall noise, along with jury testing of an array of different possible virtual designs. This process provided specific design goals for the sound of the product in terms that product planners could integrate – such as the likelihood of purchase, perceived effectiveness, overall acceptability, etc. – as well as results that engineers could utilize, for example, reduction in water splash noise or a change in motor sound. The final result was a set of candidate designs that could be listened to in a subsequent preference study.

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