Sound systems are an important selling point in luxury cars – without high fidelity audio some buyers are simply uninterested in other performance traits and likely to buy a different model. Audi, one of the leading luxury car brands, has recognized this growing demand for high fidelity audio in luxury vehicles. They have partnered with Bang & Olufsen to map the acoustic conditions in their new Audi models.
Potential buyers of an Audi can now put on a pair of headphones and virtual reality glasses and click through interiors – and sound environments – of their different model cars.
Virtual Test Drive
By reproducing the sound in a pair of headphones with a head-tracker, you can make it sound as if you are in a real car – all without leaving the comforts of your favorite chair. The perceived acoustics are very similar to those of an actual car. Thus, the headphone and virtual reality glasses are able to simulate how speakers and sound systems will work in various cars without having to test drive numerous vehicles.
A scientific paper from Finnish researchers presented at the Audio Engineering Society’s 60th International Conference in Belgium earlier this year described the design and implementation of this method of perceptually assessing the acoustical properties of a car interior and the subsequent sound reproduction properties of audio systems in motor vehicles.
Recordings with artificial head technology (the KEMAR) have been used for a number of years to reproduce various acoustic conditions, but the problem has always been trying to simulate a real world listening experience through headphones. Recently, researchers at Aalto University in Finland developed a technique in which a loudspeaker setup in an anechoic environment is used to create a precise spatial illusion through headphones. The system, which uses 43 speakers in an anechoic chamber, was originally developed by the researchers for studies on sound in concert halls.
Next time you’re in the market for a luxury car, you can try the audio system of several cars before you buy.