Lightweight and eco-friendly in-car audio doesn't have to act or sound dull
In an eco-tastic, electrically powered, range-anxious automotive future, bangin’ audio systems will no longer have the luxury of using dozens of giant, heavy speaker magnets powered by zillion-watt amplifiers. Why? Because weight is the enemy of modern electric cars—the more of it onboard, the more stunted its ultimate range per charge. Everyone wants EVs these days to go farther and farther on a charge, so why waste precious energy moving more mass and powering ludicrously loud audio speakers? Harman’s 2020 CES display takes on this reality, with an eye toward how customers can have both efficient motoring and a decent sound system. Here are a few of Harman’s audio solutions for auto manufacturers to consider:
Ecotect Enviro-Friendly Sound
Yes, we’re talking about the future here, but audio giant Harman International already has a mass- and energy-efficient suite of products marketed under the umbrella name “Ecotect.” The system utilizes a high-efficiency speaker/amplifier system, with a proprietary Prodigy Booster amp adding a new ability to measure both the voltage and current draw of each speaker instantaneously. From this feed, the system can calculate real-time impedance and can know exactly how far the speaker cone is from the magnet, enabling the amp to deliver precisely as much—or as little—power as each speaker needs/can handle given the volume demand.
By making the speakers “work smarter, not harder,” the system requires fewer speakers to achieve sound similar to systems with more speakers. As such, the Ecotect architecture can replicate the rich sound of a super-premium audio system at half the mass and considerably less total power usage (peak moments may draw 700-800 watts, but the median is down around 50 watts). And sophisticated signal processing allows them to deliver premium audio along with other Harman enabled communications experiences (see below) and active noise cancelling.
To future-proof your new electric (or other) vehicle audio system against emerging music-delivery/sharing apps and form factors, the Harman Ignite ecosystem of cloud-connected services is preparing to deliver new over-the-air upgrades to your audio system. These are ready for implementation as your mood and/or budget dictate. Planning a road trip to a live-music festival and wish your Ecotect system could replicate the live sound-stage ambiance of the JBL system in old Supra? Long for the immersive jazz-club vibe of your beloved Subaru Harman-Kardon system? Log into Harman’s Audio Marketplace and simply click “buy now,” and download branded audio software. Such upgrades can be selected at the time of purchase or activated later in the vehicle’s life. Perhaps you’ll add them for the duration of your family road trip, or purchase a lifetime license that transfers to ride-share or rental vehicles you log into.
Harman has partnered with the National Park Foundation to bring the sounds of your favorite national parks to life inside your vehicle. Authentic recordings are made at points of interest inside each park, like Yosemite Falls and Mammoth Dome at America’s oldest national park, Yosemite. What better way to unplug from the stress of dense traffic or enliven the monotony of dull scenery than by tuning in some real sounds of nature for a serene and centering experience inside your vehicle. You can even program the system to softly play music over the NatureScapes, as if you’re picnicking while softly listening to your favorite jams.
Voice-Sensing Volume Fade
In the quiet interior of an electric vehicle folks can speak in more hushed tones—that is, if they’re not shouting over the sound system. Voice-Sensing Volume Fade uses sensors to differentiate in-car communication from music, seamlessly adjusting the audio volume level down when a conversation is taking place, then automatically turning it up when the conversation ends like a veteran radio DJ working those sound-board sliders.
eESS Safe and Sound
By now most of us have heard the weird spaceship, Jetsons-style noises some electric vehicles make to warn sight-impaired or device-distracted pedestrians that an otherwise silent EV is approaching. Harman takes that technology a step farther by using a pair of closely spaced higher-quality exterior audio speakers in the car’s front and rear ends for this task. Said speakers are fairly well protected from the elements, and while there are two of them at each end of the vehicle, they play the same monaural signal. Now, when you stop for a roadside picnic lunch or a dance party in stopped traffic on an Los Angeles on- or off-ramp, these external speakers can work with the in-car subwoofer to deliver external, dance-worthy jams.