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Designers of sound

Designers of sound


3 minute read

Just about 50 kilometers south of Seoul, Korea, Hyundai’s Sound Design Research Lab as part of the Namyang R&D Center is located in Hwaseong city. Not only does Dr.Dong Chul Park, the lab’s director, and his team develop unique sounds for the passengers in the cabin by utilizing Active Sound Design (ASD) technologies, but they have also developed Hyundai's Personalized Engine Sound System (PESS) and the Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS).

At the lab, Dr Park and his team design auditory experiences for vehicles meaning engine sounds and various alarming sounds. Recently, they have been researching on multi-sensory experiences like haptics, such as vibration. This is pretty exciting since haptics will enhance auditory experiences in autonomous vehicles and in other means of transport in the future of mobility.

What sounds are they working on, exactly? Dr Park explains, “We design the sounds of conventional engines, of electric vehicle sounds, and exterior sounds that alert pedestrians. Inside a vehicle there are lots of sounds, such as warnings, alarms, or welcome and goodbye sounds.”

Dr Park

Interestingly, while driving, conveying information through auditory and tactile can be pretty important too. Especially during a long driving experience auditory and tactile become even more important than the visual sensation. In a similar regard, the first impression of a new car and the one a year later are very different. While visual impression decreases over time, the auditory and tactile impression increases in importance.

Nexo sound system
Get out of the nexo

At the moment, Dr Park and his team are also working on special sounds for luxury and sports cars. “Both segments will gain much more importance in the future.” says Dr Park. There is another target group that needs more exciting features that can compete with their smartphones, the younger generations. Which is why we've designed the Personalized Engine Sound System (PESS) to cater to the individual.
Dr Parks tells, “For these we developed our Active Sound Design (ASD) technology to enhance the engine’s sound in the passenger cabin.

…Today’s driver wants to change
the character of his or her car sound.
It’s generated electrically
so that a customer can choose
between several sounds, from quiet
to more aggressive nuances.”

Change the sound

Another area of the lab’s expertise is creating sounds to alert pedestrians of an incoming electric vehicle, which is why our team has developed the Virtual Engine Sound System (VESS). The engine in a fuel-cell electric vehicle tends to be much quieter than their gas-fueled counterparts which is why we developed this system. However, in recent years, many countries have introduced noise regulations, which didn’t make the sound design process easier. “Pedestrians have to instinctively recognize that a vehicle is approaching. Moreover the vehicle’s sound shouldn't be perceived as annoying. And we had to consider the driver's reaction to the sound, among other, ” recalls Dr Park.

Listen to the sounds of KONA EV.

EV sound on
EV sound off
Driving nexo

When the lab developed the warning sounds, they focused on real engine sounds. The solution is a varied sound timbre and one of its kind. We’re looking forward to hear more of Hyundai’s electric vehicles on the street.

Looking hyundai electric vehicles


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