Immersive sound is now also a reality in compact cars. Recently, the new Audi A1 was launched, and with it the world’s first 3D sound system that does not have loudspeakers above the dashboard. Producing the inimitable Audi surround sound in a small car is enabled by the intelligent Fraunhofer Symphoria algorithm using sophisticated acoustic reflections from the windscreen.
Large vehicles such as the Audi A8 come with a lot of space – for passengers and baggage as well as loudspeakers, which are fitted at ear level and produce true immersive 3D sound. The sound is powered by the Fraunhofer Symphoria algorithm as part of the Bang & Olufsen sound system. Many Audi drivers who have mid- and luxury-class cars do not want to go without this experience. Now, the owners of compact-class vehicles, which often lack the space for additional 3D loudspeakers, can enjoy immersive sound.
Four years ago, Fraunhofer researchers, engineers and Tonmeisters started to work on a solution which does not need any height speakers to create the “Virtual 3D” sound in compact cars like the new Audi A1. The result is at first an accurate analysis of the input signal with the help of innovative algorithms. The spatial sound portions present in the signal are then extracted and intelligently allocated to the loudspeakers in the vehicle. The impressive 3D effect evolves through the utilization of psychoacoustical principles and precisely placed loudspeakers which use the windscreen as an acoustical-reflecting surface.
During development of the Virtual 3D technology, the Fraunhofer experts worked with Audi’s team of sound developers to optimize the sound for their vehicles. The engineers from the “Acoustic Systems” division of HARMAN International then integrated the finalized algorithm into the Bang & Olufsen 3D Premium Sound System of the Audi A1 and adapted it to the sound of their system’s stereo and surround sound playback.
In the Audi A1, the sound comes from eleven high-quality loudspeakers: four of which are placed in the dashboard and used for the 3D sound. The tailor-made 3D sound system produces unparalleled acoustics and a spatial feeling one has never felt before in a compact car.
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