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  • Writer's pictureNATALIA SOUSA

Creating soundscapes for Acoustic Experience in Electric vehicles

Electric cars are inherently quiet. However, the sound experts from Mercedes-EQ make the paradigm shift from the combustion engine to electric car audible with holistic sound production. An optional interior driving sound is available. It adjusts adaptively to the driving style and drive program.

A variety of soundscapes allows for an individual acoustic set-up. If the Burmester® surround sound system is on board, the EQS comes with two soundscapes Silver Waves and Vivid Flux. Silver Waves is a sensual and clean sound. Aimed at EV enthusiasts, Vivid Flux is crystalline, synthetic, yet humanly warm. They can be selected or switched off as sound experiences on the central display. The different soundscape Roaring Pulse can be activated as an over-the-air update. This sound experience is reminiscent of powerful machines and is sonorous and extroverted.

Driver and passengers are already greeted acoustically when approaching the vehicle and when getting in. A corresponding aura sound also accompanies exiting and locking the EQS. Also part of the particular soundscape is the driving sound, which the speakers in the interior reproduce. It stirs emotions and inspires. Simultaneously, the driving sound is interactive, as it responds to a suitable dozen parameters such as the accelerator position, speed or healing. The choice of drive program also influences the driving sound; in SPORT mode, the sounds become more dynamic and different effects are activated. Intelligent sound design algorithms calculate the sounds inside the amplifier of the Burmester® surround sound system in real-time, and the loudspeakers reproduce them.

The algorithms and sounds for the sound design are created in-house at Mercedes-EQ. In addition to physicists, the interdisciplinary team also includes sound designers, media designers and mechatronics specialists. In the acoustics laboratory, which is completely shielded from external noise and vibrations, they work on the EQS and its model siblings' sound. The sound experts determine which emotions the soundscapes evoke in real traffic during test drives. The mobile listening tests occur with interactive demonstrator vehicles, including at the new Immendingen Test and Technology Centre (PTZ).

A musical composition such as harmony theory is not the only foundation to achieve an interplay between the driver's action, the vehicle's reaction, and the sound's feedback. The liveliness of the soundscape varies as a result of many sound dimensions. In this way, the sound design creates a holistic, multi-sensory experience that interacts with the entire vehicle. This experience is in the conflicting area between comfortable, quiet and precise feedback with an emotionally appealing design.