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Sound Design




In Sound Design

By Varun Nair

Partly Procedural Engine Model

On 13, Apr 2012 | 2 Comments | In Sound Design | By Varun Nair

I’m sure you must have seen the new Audi e-sound for e-tron video that has been doing its rounds on the interweb.

I am curious about the technology and implementation techniques used. Is the sound sample based or procedural? Does it alert the driver if there is something wrong with the car? How many speakers does it take to make a realistic experience? Could noise pollution be controlled if there are more speakers in front (on the outside), compared to having them all around? How much of the Audi e-tron sound was inspired by previous Audi engines and the Audi brand?

Of course, there are questions about the chaos (and noise) such customisation could create in the future. Every new technology arrives with so many uncertainties!

Coincidentally, Andy Farnell and I had this discussion a few months ago, while I interviewed him for

With cars, another place where procedural technology is very powerful is where you want the sound to encode a large vector of changing parameters. Why is it useful to have a sound on a car? By listening to a car engine I can tell a lot about it – is it slowing down, speeding up, is it a large car or small car. I can localise it pretty well. So to replace a completely silent car engine what you want is a procedural sound object which behaves like the car (that is familiar to peoples expectations viz a viz reality – and hence safety) with engine, with tyre sounds, with exhaust simulation to delineate rear and front approach  In fact you could encode all kinds of other information about the car as a safety feature which people would quite quickly get used to. If it is a bus – it could be a bigger noise, if it is a bike it’s got a lighter sound. That would be difficult to do with a sample. So the procedural object would be more versatile and able to to encode more information. That would be argument number two. Argument number three might be that to develop a library of a thousand different car engines would be very expensive. But once Procedural Audio technologies mature I should be able to buy an engine model as a one piece of software and adapt it – I could commission it as a one of piece of software or buy it on a license, put in to my product and I have all the versatility of it.

Back in November I made a prototype of a prototype of a partly procedural car engine. The only samples used are the ignition sounds. The rest is made up of noise, sine tones, some wave shaping, modulation and FFT. I need to refine the model and get it to sound better some time soon (a few glaring imperfections that needs fixing). I wouldn’t call it procedural in the truest sense, as it uses shallow techniques that are based more on sound design principles than the physics of a car. Whatever works. The acceleration slider was controlled with a MIDI controller. What do you think of it?

The sound was inspired by this post.

Party Procedural Engine Model from Varun Nair on Vimeo.

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  1. Stefan

    Cool model dude!

  2. sounds nice :)

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