Of the many electronic marvels that car manufacturers bestow on their modern day creations, amplifying engine sounds through the audio system is, perhaps, not one of their proudest moments.
The BMW M5 is one of the higher profile examples to feature “Active Sound Design”—as BMW calls it—and the general consensus seems to the world is the poorer for its existence.
Here, then, is a practical example to illustrate what a difference the audio enhancement actually makes. After the break is the relevant extract from BMW’s press folk to justify their use of amplified engine sounds.
Active Sound Design delivers precise feedback.
M5 drivers will be given an even more direct reminder of their car’s performance capability by technology that brings the distinctive sound of the high-performance V8 – in all its glory – into the cabin of the new BMW M5. The Active Sound Design technology specially developed for the new BMW M5 takes its cues from the driving situation at any one time to deliver an accurate reproduction of the engine’s sound through the car’s audio system. The system’s digital signal processing exchanges data directly with the engine management, allowing it to reflect the engine’s revs and torque, and the car’s speed over the road. The result over a smoothly driven journey is a discreet soundtrack in keeping with the harmonious and assured characteristics of the V8 powerplant. A stamp on the accelerator, meanwhile, prompts an immediate audible response to match the instantaneous – and typically M – burst of power from beneath the bonnet.
In generating its signals, Active Sound Design takes its cues from the firing sequence of the eight-cylinder engine and the frequency range of the exhaust system. This gives the driver an extremely accurate impression of current engine load and an even more intense sensation of the V8’s high-performance characteristics. At the same time the Active Sound Design control unit ensures an even spread of sound across all five seats of the new BMW M5, while observing the legal guidelines governing noise emissions inside and outside the car. The characteristics of the sound produced by the technology also adjust to the engine settings selected by the driver. For example, switching to “Sport” or “Sport+” mode sharpens not only the engine’s responsiveness but also the acoustic experience inside the car.