BMW engineers have developed a technique for changing the way a driver perceives engine noise
2 mins read
11 June 2010

BMW engineers have developed a technique for changing the way a driver perceives engine noise, which is sophisticated enough make a diesel engined car sound like it is powered by a high-revving petrol unit.

BMW engineers have built two experimental prototypes, a 635d and a Mini Clubman with the option of four different engine notes including one that sound to its occupants like an old-fashioned ‘muscle car’ V8 engine.

You can hear the system at work in the video below.

Alternatively, watch the video here

The company says that the technique dubbed ‘Active Sound Design’ and utilizing the car’s own sound-system is so effective that test drivers in vehicles equipped with the set-up perceived their cars to be performing better than standard test vehicles with identical performance.

The prototype is based on 635d, which has been treated to BMW’s new ‘acoustic lightweight construction’ techniques, which uses new lightweight sound and vibration deadening materials in the engine bay and under the car.

In addition, says BMW, the engine is "partially encompassed by an acoustic capsule". All of which greatly reduce the noise emitted by the engine into the cabin.

The upshot is that with the car’s natural engine note nearly completely subdued, a new, artificial, engine noise can be fed to the occupant’s ears via the audio system.

According to Albert Kaltenhauser, BMW’s Manager for Airborne Sound, Acoustics and Vibration, BMW started work on the system to improve the sound characteristics of diesel engines.

"Today's diesel engines are capable of a lot. They're efficient, highly effective and high-torque, but until now they were lacking the right sound," said Kaltenhauser. "With Active Sound Design, they're finally achieving the sound that they deserve based on their performance characteristics."

BMW says that Active Sound Design allows for "significantly more systematic and finer adjustments than classic sound design, which is oriented around the intake and exhaust systems."

"Even minimal changes to vehicle sound can have a big impact, since human hearing subconsciously evaluates acoustic surroundings like a high-performance analyser and all changes are continuously registered in the brain," said Kaltenhauser.

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10 June 2010

Didnt Lotus have a system to do this many years ago?

10 June 2010

Er, maybe. Wasn't that actually sound cancelling? Or did they get into artificial engine noise as well?

10 June 2010

Oh dear, what a waste of resources.

10 June 2010

[quote Autocar]You can here (sic) the system at work in the video below.

Head. Desk.

10 June 2010

Why go to all the trouble of "acoustically en-capsuling" the engine, greatly reducing engine noise, to then spend god knows how much developing a system to artificially create another noise. Keep it quiet! Edit: or do something far more interesting, make my car sound like a helicopter or the starship Enterprise going into warp drive or a galloping horse... ad nauseum

10 June 2010

Watch "Pimp My Ride" (for a good laugh) and see that this system has been commercially available for years.......

......well done BMW, way behind again!!!

10 June 2010

will this become the new 'chilli pack' for all those 'must have a Mini' people?? What they gonna call it the 'Mugg Pack'??

10 June 2010

[quote Leslie Brook]or a galloping horse[/quote]


How about that old comforting clatter of an A-series in need of TLC. Proper retro.

If you're going to make it sound like something else, make sure people outside car hear it too!

10 June 2010

[quote HiltonH]Er, maybe. Wasn't that actually sound cancelling? Or did they get into artificial engine noise as well?[/quote]

Wasn't that a Merc system that channeled noise back through the speakers to cancel itself out? Or something like that.

Now I like the sound of a V8 but if I'm going to hear it I also want to feel it so this fake system wouldn't appeal to me at all. It's like those people who have 1.1 Saxos with massive exhausts coming out the back, all a bit sad.

10 June 2010

And who says the germans don't have a sense of humour !! Totally pointless and a waste of money. However, it would put a smile on my face every time so I want one :)


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