Speakerless vehicle audio unveiled by Continental and Sennheiser

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Technology company Continental and audio specialist Sennheiser have revealed a speakerless audio system for the vehicle interior. The unique system is claimed to fill the interior with lifelike, immersive sound. To achieve it, the two partners are integrating Sennheiser’s patented AMBEO 3D audio technology with Continental’s Ac2ated Sound system.

Continental’s innovative concept abandons conventional speaker technology, instead exciting surfaces in the vehicle interior to produce sound. Combined with Sennheiser’s AMBEO Mobility, the concept “achieves a breathtaking 3D sound reproduction that envelops passengers in an incredibly detailed and vivid soundscape and lets them enjoy their in-car entertainment to the fullest,” according to the system’s creators.

Inspired by the technology of classical string instruments, which use their wooden body as a resonance chamber, specially developed actuators excite specific surfaces in the vehicle interior. The result is said to be an extremely natural sound experience for the occupants, “who feel as if they are sitting in a concert hall surrounded by sound”.

Additionally, in comparison with conventional speaker systems, the audio solution has a much lower weight and significantly reduced box volume. For comparison: with a multitude of components, conventional audio systems weigh up to 40kg (88 lb). By using pre-existing surfaces, Ac2ated Sound achieves a reduction of up to 90% compared with existing conventional systems on the market.

At the same time, the invisible audio technology should provide vehicle designers and manufacturers with the freedom to do more with an automobile’s interior, as they no longer need to account for large speaker faces taking up valuable space. Continental says that with Ac2ated Sound, many components are unnecessary because the surfaces in the vehicle vibrate just like speaker diaphragms. Instead, the actuators cause components such as the A-pillar trim, door trim, roof lining and rear shelf to vibrate so that they emit sound in different frequency ranges.

“For Ac2ated Sound we have brought together the highest levels of expertise in the areas of acoustics, infotainment and vehicle design. In Sennheiser we have found an audio expert who helped us make our pioneering audio system even better,” said Helmut Matschi, member of the executive board and head of the business area Vehicle Networking and Information at Continental.

Sennheiser’s co-CEO Daniel Sennheiser added, “Our AMBEO immersive audio solutions deliver the ultimate quality in sound capture, processing and playback. Crucially, the ability to enjoy breathtaking immersive sound does not require specific 3D audio sources – AMBEO Mobility’s spatialization algorithm can turn any stereo material into an immersive experience. By intelligently analyzing the content, the patented algorithm artistically remixes the sound to provide an emotional experience, transporting the listener into the music.”

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