We often think that more speakers mean better sound. A lot of luxury vehicles are even equipped with 15 or more speakers. But as technology improves, manufacturers are introducing great quality audio with zero speakers. Yup, you won’t see any of them, but the music will sound very impressive. Continental just announced that they have a system called Ac2ated Sound, that will turn the car’s interior surroundings into a speaker. Now, that is proper surround sound.
Johann Hiebl, Continental’s head of business unit infotainment and connectivity, said that car manufacturers have been looking into surround sound systems that weigh less for the overall car to be lighter in weight, while providing more space for passengers and new technologies. Furthermore, he said they can use compact actuators and use surfaces to generate a natural, 3D sound - using the car itself and its walls as an instrument.
Certain parts of the car, from the A-pillars to the door panels are naturally suited for varying frequencies. For instance, the A-pillars can handle higher frequencies, which can be the audio system’s tweeters. On the other hand, mid-range frequencies can be perfectly handled by door panels, and the roof an rear shelf can act like subwoofers. Normally, a car would have speakers in some of these areas, but according to Continental, the actuators that will replace the actual coil and magnet can deliver vibrations in these areas and as a reaction, the car itself can produce the sound. Sounds technical, huh? The company even provided an illustration of a violin comparing it to a car’s door panel to further explain how this works.
Jens Freidrich, an acoustic engineer with Continental Engineering Services, explained how each part of the car produces a certain tone or sound. By knocking on the A-pillar, its produces a certain sound, and by tapping the dashboard, a different sound is produced.
When this system is set up in your car, it can reduce over 50 pounds of the car’s total weight, without all the bulky speakers and related components, says Continental. This is perfect for electric vehicles as they are generally heavier due to their batteries. What makes this even more practical is the extra interior space you’ll get to store your personal belongings. Now, this speakerless setup is really nice to have.
What may sound surprising is that this is not a revolutionary concept. In fact, the car acts like an instrument, just like a violin or a guitar - with the strings being the actuators. The company also said that experts like this idea, but we can’t really judge until we get to test these in cars.