Continental and Sennheiser Developed New Sound Actuator Solution for Vehicle Audio

January 27 2020, 00:20
One of the key technology demonstrations in automotive audio at CES 2020 was promoted by Continental and audio specialist Sennheiser. The two German companies presented a "speakerless" audio system for the vehicle interior, which Sennheiser claims is able to generate immersive audio by exciting surfaces inside the vehicle to produce sound. The Continental actuator solution - Ac2ated Sound - reduces weight and space by up to 90% in comparison to conventional systems.

Continental and Sennheiser introduced the new audio system in a private exhibit at CES 2020, where visitors could experience how the system responds to the challenges for the next generation of vehicles.

Comparing the action of the new Ac2ated Sound system actuator with the sound vibrations generated by a violin, the concept abandons conventional speaker technology altogether, exciting select surfaces in the vehicle interior to produce sound. The solution designed by Sennheiser for Continental is also based on the patented AMBEO 3D audio processing technology, helping to enhance reproduction inside the vehicle with an immersive 3D effect. Combined with Sennheiser’s AMBEO Mobility, the concept is said to achieve "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."

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 an extremely natural sound experience for the occupants, who feel surrounded by sound. Additionally, in comparison with conventional speaker systems, the audio solution has a much lower weight and significantly reduced box volume. 

At the same time, the invisible audio technology gives vehicle designers and manufacturers 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. With Ac2ated Sound, many components are unnecessary because the surfaces in the vehicle vibrate just like speaker diaphragms. 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. 

Critical for automotive technologies, in comparison to conventional audio systems, Ac2ated Sound enables a reduction of weight and space of up to 90 percent, making it suited for electric vehicles, where saving space and weight is a high priority. In comparison with conventional audio systems using a multitude of components, weighing up to 40 kilograms (more than 88 pounds), by using already existing surfaces, Ac2ated Sound is distinctly more efficient in saving space. It achieves a reduction between 75 and 90 percent in contrast to existing conventional systems on the market.

“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,” says Helmut Matschi, member of the Executive Board and Head of the business area Vehicle Networking and Information at Continental. “Together, we have developed an audio system that creates premium sound out of nowhere. Additionally, Ac2ated Sound reduces space and weight. At Continental, we call this sustainability that’s music to your ears.”

“We are delighted to bring our audio expertise and AMBEO Mobility software into the pioneering Ac2ated Sound system from Continental, calibrating and fine-tuning the sound quality to deliver a completely immersive and natural sound experience that opens new audio perspectives and realities,” explains Dr. Andreas Sennheiser, co-CEO of Sennheiser.

“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,” co-CEO Daniel Sennheiser added.

Founded in 1871, Continental develops technologies and services for mobility, vehicles, machines, traffic and transportation. The company currently employs more than 240,000 people in 60 countries and markets. |
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