The leading automaker Audi reveals that its future e-tron models will cover long distances powered by practically silent electric motors. To ensure that pedestrians in urban settings will hear them, the brand has developed a synthetic solution: Audi e-sound.
So, Rudolf Halbmeir’s workstation is not exactly typical of an Audi engineer. There is a digital piano on his desk, two studio-quality loudspeakers next to his computer monitor, and a pile of music magazines off to the side.
“A car’s sound,” says Halbmeir, an acoustics engineer, “is similar to music.”
Sound is an especially exciting aspect of a vehicle. Although it can be described in physical terms, there is no substitute for experiencing it firsthand, says the company.
It believes a car’s sound is emotional, not intellectual. Although we consciously register a car’s sounds only occasionally while on the road, they are always there – playing a crucial role in the driving experience.
Sounds send signals. Low-range frequencies suggest power and composure, while mid-range frequencies emit sportiness and agility.
“Good sound design is a complex endeavor,” explains Dr. Ralf Kunkel, head of Acoustics at Audi. “We have gathered a lot of expertise over the years. We have also learned how to amplify pleasant frequencies and to suppress unpleasant noises.”