Au­dio in mo­tion

Har­man’s chief engi­neer of acous­tics, arndt Hens­gens, of­fers in­sight on the com­plex task of cre­at­ing and tun­ing an au­dio sys­tem for the dif­fi­cult en­vi­ron­ment of the car.

Virtuozity - - Handmade -

Har­man needs to stay on the cut­ting edge of in-car au­dio tech­nol­ogy. To help with this, the com­pany has de­vel­oped its own sys­tem to test in-car au­dio for bet­ter re­sults at faster rates. Nat­u­rally, the process is ex­tremely tech­nol­ogy-re­liant.

“It takes on av­er­age four years be­fore a sys­tem is ready to be in­stalled. We have very good re­la­tion­ships with the OEMS and work closely with the ve­hi­cle de­sign team to pro­vide a be­spoke so­lu­tion. We spec­ify the po­si­tion and space needed for the speak­ers, then when the first pro­duc­tion cars are ready we start the tun­ing process—it can take months,” Hens­gens says.

“At Har­man we have cre­ated a sys­tem called Au­ravox that helps us rapidly and ef­fi­ciently com­plete the first 80 per cent of the test­ing task. It was de­vel­oped in-house and took a spe­cial­ist team of Har­man en­gi­neers five years—it’s ex­tremely ef­fec­tive. Twenty-four mi­cro­phones are used to mea­sure the sound within the in­te­rior of the car, send­ing this in­for­ma­tion to the Au­ravox soft­ware that au­to­mat­i­cally eval­u­ates hun­dreds of pa­ram­e­ters and in­de­pen­dently gen­er­ates the ap­pro­pri­ate fil­ters, cor­rects speaker de­lay dif­fer­ences, and sets op­ti­mum vol­ume lev­els of in­di­vid­ual chan­nels.”

He ex­plains that most other au­dio man­u­fac­tur­ers would be happy with the re­sults at this stage, but Har­man’s en­gi­neers also look to get that last 20 per cent right by fine­tune the sys­tem to match the au­dio brand’s bench­marked stan­dard.

“It’s what Har­man has been pi­o­neer­ing for decades: it makes a real dif­fer­ence and is why au­dio­philes like our prod­ucts,” sur­faces. The speed, road sur­face, num­ber of pas­sen­gers, the roof be­ing up or down, even if the car is petrol or diesel af­fects the au­dio. It all needs to be con­sid­ered and eval­u­ated.

Nat­u­rally, the sort of mu­sic be­ing tested also needs to be con­sid­ered. Af­ter all, gear­ing in-car au­dio to­wards a sound that suits clas­si­cal mu­sic may not be very well ap­pre­ci­ated by buy­ers who’d pre­fer to lis­ten to Dr Dre.

“We use a range of mu­sic and each engi­neer has their pref­er­ences and ‘go to’ tracks. I’ll play clas­si­cal mu­sic fol­lowed by heavy metal bands, jazz and then pop—you need to re­ally get a feel for the sys­tem across all gen­res. We also have to con­sider the type of mu­sic a per­son buy­ing that par­tic­u­lar car would lis­ten to,” Hens­gens says.

“In the fi­nal weeks be­fore the car goes into pro­duc­tion we make the fi­nal tweaks to the sys­tem, and only then when we’re happy that the au­dio is at its finest will the sys­tem be signed off for pro­duc­tion.”

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