The monstrous symphony that screams out of the engine bay as the engine begins to climb up to redline, sends chills through your body as you are pressed back into your seat during acceleration, has always played a key role in the performance car experience. Auto makers such as Maserati, Aston Martin, Harley Davidson, Ferrari, and Lamborghini are known for the powerful sound that is created when their vehicles are pushed to the limit. Every engine makes a distinct sound and is its own unique instrument. The number of cylinders, firing order, cams, the configuration and layout of the headers and exhaust all play a role in creating the blood pumping sounds of a high power engine.
However, this may not be the case anymore. There has been a growing trend in the auto industry, many automakers are now trying to amplify, recreate, and fake engine noise. The most recent and maybe most disheartening offender is BMW. Last year BMW announced that the new M5 will use a signal processor connected to the cars computer to play a recreation of the V8s twin turbo engine through the vehicles interior speakers. The problem that BMW ran into is the classic sports vs luxury car features. While the M5 has a 4.4 liter twin turbo engine that produces 560 hp, (which is a healthy amount to classify it as a sports sedan) the car must also play the part of a luxury sedan, where road noise should be completely eliminated. So while it has the power, you may lose out on the experience of hearing a roaring V8 accelerate through the gears.
Maserati, who is recently looking to expand its target market with a line of Diesel powered cars, has turned to fabricated or amplified engine sounds as well. The Maserati Kubang SUV will attempt to pipe sound into the cabin. Diesel cars sound very different from gasoline and just cannot compete with the arousing roar that Maserati’s are known for.
So, who else is guilty? Well Volkswagen, Subaru, Ford, and Scion to name a few. Each company is using different technologies to “enhance” the driving experience. For instance, Volkswagen uses a technology called the “Soundaktor” which is used on the new GTI’s. The Soundaktor is essentially a pipe that runs from the engine directly into the cars cabin. The new Scion FR-S and Subaru BRZ both use resonance chambers and a sound tube as well to increase engine noise. If you don’t own any of those cars but still want to have a fake exhaust note play through your stereo, you can check out SoundRacer. They sell a device that plugs into your 12v receptacle, syncs up with your engines rpm’s and can transmit a long list of different cars engine sound through your speakers.
Most of the new systems companies incorporated onto the vehicle, enthusiasts are trying to undo what the companies have done, and take the car back to a more naturally sounding exhaust note. Long gone are the days that the sound of the engine creates are the sounds you actually hear. Auto makers are trying to enhance the driving experience through making your car sound better than it actually does, which will then make your car feel faster.
Instead of putting all the time and effort into amplification and fabrication of engine sound, why not just spend the time to create something that is genuinely great, and a quality product. If you can achieve that the natural driving experience should sell itself.