The new Kia EV9 luxury SUV, which will be launched across Europe, Asia and the US for model year 2024, will be one of the first vehicles specified with a sound system designed and tuned specifically for the unique audio characteristics of a pure electric vehicle.
Developed by British pioneers Meridian Audio, following extensive research into the requirements for delivering an immersive acoustic experience in electric vehicles, the 14 speaker system employs a suite of proprietary Digital Signal Processing technologies optimized for this surprisingly challenging acoustic environment.
The electric-only EV9 SUV is the third Kia vehicle to feature Meridian technology, following the K8 luxury sports sedan and the EV6 premium electric crossover.
Meridian’s engineers have selected and tailored a suite of DSP technologies for the EV9. Meridian RE-Q optimizes the audio system to the precise acoustics of the vehicle cabin, while Meridian Digital Precision maximizes the signal-to-noise ratio, preserving the natural rhythm of the performance. Meridian Horizon, an upmixing technology, provides multi-channel audio from both two-channel stereo and native 5.1 content, delivering a surround sound experience complete with centre image and ambience level controls for the user. Meridian lntelli-Q Data-Driven Equalisation psychoacoustically optimizes audio playback by responding to the changing nature of the in-car acoustic environment as vehicle speed changes.
John Buchanan, Meridian Audio’s chief executive, explained, “The challenge with delivering a fantastic audio experience in an EV isn’t the level of the background noise, it’s the complexity of noise sources and their frequency profiles. These are typically at significantly higher frequencies than in a combustion vehicle, which can affect our ability to perceive the position of sounds, and they can be more random, which makes the acoustic environment more difficult to manage with active noise cancelation.”
The solution, according to Buchanan, is to move the focus from hardware to software, managing the acoustic environment through Meridian’s proprietary Digital Signal Processing algorithms and then overlaying further DSP technologies to tailor the sound to the requirements of the specific vehicle and the tastes and activities of the vehicle occupants.
An open-air connected subwoofer (OCS) was selected for the EV9 as it removes the need for a large box enclosure. Conventional enclosures require substantial packaging volume and can create resonances and rattles. They also limit frequency extension and timing. The combination of the OCS and Meridian’s proprietary tuning techniques has eliminated these issues, providing exceptional bass performance that is fast, precise and deep for all seating positions.
Kia Corporation’s head of product planning, Byungchul Cho, added, “We are excited to be integrating Meridian’s authentic and natural sound in the new EV9. Every element of the interior has been designed with high-end luxury in mind, and this collaboration provides a very special, British premium sound experience for our customers.”