Fake engine sounds could be music to drivers' ears

TOBY HAGON
Last updated 11:25 03/07/2014
Lexus believes that your cabin could soon be free from the sound of the engine and replaced with any soundtrack you want.

TURN IT UP AND DRIVE: Lexus believes that your cabin could soon be free from the sound of the engine and replaced with any soundtrack you want.

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Drivers could soon be able to download customised engine sounds in the same way you can download a ring tone for your phone.

Japanese luxury brand Lexus is considering technology that would allow drivers to electronically tailor the engine sound of their cars by pumping artificial noises through the speakers of the car.

That could mean you’ll hear anything from a screaming child or the thrum of a Harley Davidson to the latest Pink or U2 top 40 hit when you accelerate away from the lights.

"In the future any sound can be downloaded on the internet ... any sound is possible," said the assistant chief engineer of the Lexus NX compact SUV, Kei-Ichi Nishiyama.

He also said it would be possible for owners to record their own sounds and have them react to speed and throttle inputs using advanced electronics linked to the car’s computer.

Nishiyama said there were currently no plans to develop the customisable sound technology yet but that he was keen on the idea, something that could see it hit the product development slate within a car company trying to consistently grow its market share against predominantly German competition.

"Throughout the model life [of the Lexus NX] I want to do that," he said, suggesting in the next few years would be likely for such sound enhancement technology.

Many cars already have synthesised sounds, which amplify or mimic the car's sound through the speakers with the aim of making it sound sportier. The Lexus NX is one of them with its Active Sound Control system developed in conjunction with Yamaha.

Renault takes it a step further by allowing the choice between some iconic engine sounds, including the Nissan GT-R, in its Clio RS hot hatch.

But Lexus' plan would let drivers download thousands of different engine sounds - or even a tailored sound that has nothing to do with cars.

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- Sydney Morning Herald

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