Noise is considered as a ‘sound that annoys people’. In addition, the term ‘noise pollution’ suggests that it is an environmental pollution and thus should definitely be reduced. In conjunction with the negative perception of such noise, there is a continuous effort to reduce it in automobiles. Technologies, such as Active Noise Control (ANC), are attracting attention and they are working on improving noise reduction. An electric car on the other hand does not have an engine, which is the main cause of the noise. Therefore, it is almost at the level of silence.
However, even the noise that we think has to be reduced is one of the three key functions of sound in a car. Automobile companies were actually ‘designing’ sounds. The first function can be found in the word ‘silent killer’. Cars, when they are too quiet due to technological advances, can make it difficult for pedestrians to notice their approach, thereby resulting in accidents. In this regard, the first function of sound is to inform the pedestrians of approaching of cars.
The second function of car sound has something to do with the motion of the car. The car sound has a significant effect on the emotions of the driver while controlling the car. Therefore, automobile companies are aiming to produce pleasant driving environments by reducing the noise and making the sounds favorable to hear inside the car. A related concept is the ‘Noise Vibration Harshness (NVH)’, which refers to all noise and frequency vibrations produced by parts of an automobile. For the NVH performance, the automakers make the basic design powerful so that there is no vibration emanating from the moving parts, such as engines, tires, and suspension. It is also important to prevent the external noise of the road surface from coming in. Moreover, they designed the sound of doors opening and closing, as well as the sound of the direction indicators.
The third function stems from the fact that the memory effects of sound are influential. As a result, sound is a pretty good component to represent the concept of a car. It can also represent the car’s own sporting qualities, dynamism, or dignified characteristic. There are even brands that have designers who are specialized in creating sound for cars. In the case of ‘Maserati’, the designers are famous for designing engine sounds by drawing music and developing engines with pianists and composers.
Therefore, the sound of a car we think of only as a noise is actually playing other big roles. People design the sound of a car, which is one of its important functions. Similar to the proverb, ‘the more you know it, the more you see it’, now it is the sound of a car where the more you know it, the more you will hear it.
Jung In-hwa (ST Reporter)