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Ford quests to find ‘backseat divas’

Ford quests to find ‘backseat divas’ to become part of New Zealand’s biggest backing band

· The Passengers, the biggest band in New Zealand, on tour now in the All-New Ford Kuga

· With music in its DNA, the All-New Ford Kuga offers a perfect sound stage for the sing-along audiophile in everyone

AUCKLAND, 1 February 2013 – Like honking the car horn in Wellington’s Mt Victoria tunnel or stopping off at the big L&P bottle in Paeroa, singing in the car is a tradition for Kiwis on the road.

So, to start the year and get behind its sponsorship of TV3s The X-Factor, Ford has launched ’The Passengers’, a competition that gives Kiwis a chance to show off their car singing skills and provide vocals for a new remix of Che Fu’s song ‘Fade Away.

A specially equipped Ford Kuga is traveling New Zealand recording Kiwis of all ages and singing abilities to create backing vocals for the fresh version of the song, which will also have an accompanying music video. Prizes and other giveaways are on offer to all those who participate.

“There’s no doubt that any driving experience is more fun with a bit of music. Be it a long holiday car trip, or just on the way home after school, more Kiwis than would probably care to admit it consider their car to be their own personal sound stage,” says Chris Masterson, Marketing Manager for Ford New Zealand.

“We’re inviting all those ‘traffic-light tunesters’ and side street singers – or ‘backseat divas’ as we like to call them – whose talent shines when singing in the car, to become one of The Passengers; a group we are hoping will literally become the biggest band in New Zealand.”

Entry forms and a video tutorial for the song can be found at the web site, along with dozens of short videos of Kiwi singers who have already provided their voice to the project. Visitors to the site can also ‘like’ the videos to help their favourite singers win special prizes.

“Anyone can be a part of it, so check the web site to see when The Passengers is coming to your town, then come along and join in!”

Music is in the All-New Kuga’s DNA

“Ford dedicated a team of audio engineers to ensure the music you sing along to sounds its best. In fact, they’ve developed their own list of music used to produce sound stage-quality in the All-New Ford Kuga,” says Chris Masterson.

“The engineers tuned the audio system so that it sounds natural – as if you’re listening to music inside a theatre rather than in your vehicle.”

Masterson said Ford’s audio engineers tested a wide playlist of songs to refine and set the sound stage inside the Kuga. From the raw energy of Stevie Ray Vaughn’s tube amp to Suzanne Vega’s lip smack and Rihanna’s voice, all these sounds were all used to help Ford audio engineers perfect the sing along sound stage inside the All-New Ford Kuga.

“The ‘buzz’ in Stevie Ray Vaughn’s cover of the Jimi Hendrix classic ‘Little Wing’ is from a single-coil pickup amplified by tubes. Ford audio engineers used this recording to evaluate tonal balance, ensure quality in the bass region, and to make sure there is a wide sound stage in the new Kuga’s audio system,” says Masterson.

“The lip smack in Suzanne Vega’s a cappella hit ‘Tom’s Diner’ is used to check the centre staging of the sound system, while Rihanna’s ‘S.O.S.’ helps evaluate clean bass mixed with vocals and ensure there is nothing shrill in the tweeters.”

The audio engineers’ work was twofold: the objective portion, monitoring sound wave files on laptop computers hooked up to speakers within the vehicle; and the subjective portion, relying on human ears to fine-tune the quality of the system.

“The sound created by the vehicle’s sound system will deliver a concert-hall listening quality experience to any kind of music, from classical piano, to R’n’B, heavy rock and rap,” said Masterson.

Christine Templin, one of the Ford audio engineers, explained how Jennifer Warnes’ recording of Leonard Cohen’s ‘Famous Blue Raincoat’ should give the listener a specific feeling.

“You should feel like you have been transported to an entirely different environment,” she said; “It’s that good.”

PJ Harvey’s ‘Electric Light’ was used to make sure the instruments don’t modulate the vocals and the bass doesn’t shake the doors, Templin noted.

Masterson also says the volume of road and wind noise audible in the new Kuga has been significantly reduced compared with the previous model to help deliver one of the quietest cabins of vehicles in its class.

“Improvements were made through the innovative use of elliptical acoustic mirrors to measure exterior elements that can influence the noise and vibration inside the car.”

“All together, the new Kuga is ideal for people who love to drive and love their music!”

Arrival May 2013

The Kuga Trend and Titanium come with a premium, nine-speaker SONY® system and will be available in New Zealand from May 2013. Prices are to be announced closer to launch.

*Ford Audio Engineers’ ‘Best of’ Kuga playlist – music used to fine-tune the All New Kuga’s sound stage

1. ZZ Top “La Grange” – Listen for the clean snare drum clicks, left and right rhythm guitars and strong bass guitar.

2. Yello “The Race” – Listen for a sensation of the car racing from right to left, and left to right. “It should sound spacious with transients of doors slamming,” Templin says.

3. Lou Reed “Walk on the Wild Side” – Listen for backup singers to move from far to near, testing image depth. Check for tonal balance and loud dynamics.

4. Kenny Chesney “Summertime” – Listen for clean vocals, instruments should be clearly defined.

5. Eminem “Remember Me” – Listen for loud dynamics, bass extension.

6. Rihanna “S.O.S.” – Listen for tonal balance, clean bass, nothing shrill in the tweeters.

7. Beyonce featuring Jay Z “Déjà Vu” – Listen for bass to be clean and even. Vocals should not break up or sound overly bright.

8. Peter, Paul and Mary “I Have a Song to Sing O” – This is an old recording with vocals panned left-centre-right in order to test staging and imaging. Voices should retain a natural timbre.

9. Johnny Cash “Bird on a Wire” – This intimate recording (as if Cash were in his living room) tests tonal balance and spatial qualities. Vocals show a close-mic effect.

10. Bruno Giuranna Mozart Piano Quartets 1 & 2, “Allegretto” – Listen for a natural piano tone. Strings should be forward.

- ENDS -

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