Everyone knows that the next-generation eco-friendly car is electric. However, there are still many consumers who are uncomfortable with the unique driving sensibility of electric vehicles. Electric Vehicle Active Sound Design (e-Active Sound Design, e-ASD) is a technology that makes electric vehicles more friendly to people. The optimum sound is added to the cabin considering variables such as the vehicle’s driving speed, the torque state of the motor, and the driver’s acceleration – hence adding vitality and concentration to driving.
The Genesis brand’s first dedicated electric vehicle, the GV60’s e-ASD, not only serves the basic purpose of adding a sense of immersion but also maximizes the luxurious sense of the Genesis brand and delivers the futuristic and special sensibility of electric vehicles. From now on, the development team of Sound Design Research Lab will tell you about e-ASD technology that adds the dynamic pleasure and unique sensibility of driving electric vehicles.
Q. How is it different from the ASD currently housed by internal combustion engines?
Ki-Chang Kim, Senior Researcher | e-ASD of EVs has a different approach than ASD. Whereas current ASD produces engine sound, e-ASD introduces Granular Synthesis, which is used in electronic music composition to realize various sounds. Granular Synthesis is an acoustic synthesis technology that decomposes sounds into very small units and recombines them to create new sounds. In the GV60, this synthesis technology was able to realize a variety of sounds, like the futuristic sounds that you could only see in sci-fi movies. Through information such as the vehicle’s speed and acceleration status, the driver becomes a sound DJ while holding the steering wheel.
Q. What are the characteristics of the three sound modes that make up e-ASD?
Tae-Kun Yun, Senior Researcher | GV60’s e-ASD is the history of car sound. The era of electric vehicles is approaching, but there are still many internal combustion engines on the road. In addition, many people still think of the sound of an engine whenever they think of a ‘car sound’. However, we felt that engine sounds alone were not enough to express this future electric vehicle; As a result, we wanted to show the past, present, and future sounds of cars through the GV60’s e-ASD.
※The sound source may be slightly different from the optimized sound demonstrated in the actual vehicle.
These three sounds are the unique sounds of the automaker for the perfected luxury brand. First of all, ‘G-Engine’ uses the engine sound of the GV70 to express the unique sensibility of the internal combustion engine, and ‘E-Motor’ mode gives a new character by refining the motor sound of the electric car. Lastly, the ‘Futuristic’ mode, which gives a hint about what the sound of future mobility will be like, provides an iconic sound experience unique to Genesis electric vehicles.
Q, Are the sound sources all from electronic sound?
Ki-Chang Kim, Senior Researcher | Some sound sources have been synthesized electronically, but not all sound sources are composed that way; For example, the G-Engine sound was produced based on the real engine sound of the GV70. Of course, unlike internal combustion engines, the characteristics of electric vehicles without transmission were taken into account. In addition, we tried to realize the optimized engine sound in consideration of the luxury image of the Genesis brand. Conversely, the futuristic sound, which most actively utilizes the synthesizer sound source, expresses the striking elements that vehicles will have in the future mobility ecosystem through sound. In this process, I thought a lot about how to express tone and emotion in order to realize an eco-friendly and futuristic image. If you were to describe a futuristic sound as a color, it would probably be blue. This unique hue representing the blue sky also contains our wish for the new era of electric vehicles.
Q. How did the GV60’s Bang & Olufsen sound system affect e-ASD?
Tae-Kun Yun, Senior Researcher | The indoor volume of an electric vehicle has a great influence on the virtual sound volume. In general, the nature of the room noise also varies depending on the amplifier. The GV60’s Bang & Olufsen (B&O) sound system uses ANC-R (Active Noise Control-Road) to reduce road noise to create a quieter cabin. In addition, a sound system housed in the cabin with 17 speakers provides optimal sound to passengers using different volumes or settings. Thanks to B&O’s sound system that pursues sophisticated and a natural sound, it was possible to maximize the sensibility of each sound composing the e-ASD. Of course, the vehicle with only a basic sound system was also tuned optimally so that passengers could feel the character of the e-ASD.
Q, What effect does e-ASD have on passengers while the car is on the road, running?
Ki-Chang Kim, Senior Researcher | Thanks to an electric motor that works quietly and smoothly, electric vehicles produce significantly less noise and vibration than conventional internal combustion engines. Some drivers prefer the quietness of electric vehicles, but there are also many drivers who feel unfamiliar with it. It can also make driving tedious; We thought about these issues. Through the sound that e-ASD diffuses into the cabin, the driver can concentrate on driving and feel the fun. In addition, it will be possible to drive more safely by recognizing the current driving speed through sound.
Q. What is the focus of the sound production?
Tae-Kun Yun, Senior Researcher | It considers various factors such as brand, concept, and performance. And each brand pursues a different sound. Also, the different sounds depending on the size of the vehicle are one of the main factors. In particular, performance is the most important consideration when making sound harmonious – because the nature and frequency of the sound changes with acceleration, and cars of different sizes adjust the volume in different ways according to the noise when driving at a constant speed.
While considering all these factors, the most important part is the suitability of the vehicle and the sound. The first priority is to harmonize the image and sound of the actual vehicle. At the time of development, the team created numerous sound sources for the GV60. And for the final selection, we shared opinions closely with research institute faculties as well as overseas research institutes. In addition, after evaluation by domestic and foreign consumers, three sound sources that best fit the vehicle concept and image were chosen.
Q. Are there any tone or sound characteristics that consumers usually prefer?
Ki-Chang Kim, Senior Researcher | Through countless evaluations, we understood that each consumer prefers different sound characteristics and tones. In particular, since Genesis is a global brand, it has to respond to consumers of various nationalities, and there are times when each preference is clearly revealed depending on the region. For example, when we were developing the GV60, European consumers often preferred current engine sound, while Korean drivers tended to prefer the futuristic sound. In addition to such regional differences, preferences may vary depending on age, occupation, gender, etc.; Therefore, the GV60 provides three types of sounds so that you can choose the one that suits you according to your taste.
Q. How is the sound characteristic of the GV60 compared to other brands of Hyundai Motor Group using e-ASD?
Tae-Kun Yun, Senior Researcher | During the development of Hyundai Motor Group’s electric vehicle sound, the Sound Design Research Lab had sound designers for each brand from the beginning. This is to maximize the unique characteristics of the brand and to prevent the sound tendency from becoming similar. Therefore, from the concept that determines the theme of the sound to the harmonization process of the vehicle and sound image, the sound development process is different for each brand.
For example, the sound of the GV60 pursued driver-centered luxury, just like the Genesis brand. At the same time as completing the sound that feels both soft and strong, the overall volume has been smoothed out to make it easier for passengers to hear, and you will be able to feel a significant difference from other brands in the responsiveness of the sound when the accelerator pedal is pressed. To complete this, a number of evaluations were conducted for a long time to understand the preferences of consumers, that is, drivers, and to find appropriate sounds. As a result, I think we were able to complete the driver-centric sound that Genesis pursues.
Q. How do you expect the virtual sound technology of electric vehicles to develop in the future?
Tae-Kun Yun, Senior Researcher | I think it will be similar to the development of electric vehicles. Just as high-performance cars have pursued fun, different from becoming a means of daily transportation, electric vehicles are also expected to feature high-performance. Therefore, in order to develop a sound suitable for a high-performance electric vehicle, we are developing a new sound and a device suitable for it. In addition, it plans to provide a more valuable experience through new technologies that reflect the sensibility of passengers and are suitable for the future environment.
Q. If e-ASD is a technology to close the gap between internal combustion engines and EVs, is e-ASD necessary for the future when electric vehicles become the new normal?
Ki-Chang Kim, Senior Researcher | There was a time when a quiet cabin was always the right answer. However, many customers want a sound that matches the characteristics of the vehicle rather than just having a quiet car. The new sound soon became a brand, and it became an element that made people aware of the brand. In the electric vehicle market where all competitors are strong, we believe that sound will be one of the key factors for consumers to choose a vehicle. In addition, personalization and diversification will become more intense; So there will be a technology that changes the sound according to the passengers’ mood.
Ki-Chang Kim and Tae-Kun Yun, who participated in the e-ASD development, said that when you first receive your GV60, the indoor virtual sound function is set to ‘off’ mode. So, if you want to enjoy more dynamic driving, you must use the ‘Electric Vehicle Active Sound Design’ function in the infotainment system. They also said that they are developing various sound-related research to satisfy the taste of consumers.
Photo by Dae-Il Choi and Beom-Seok Kim