TECHNOLOGY

Creative Styling of Sound for the Automotive Cabin

Sound Technology

Technology for Creative Sound Control and Affective Mobility Space Design

Alps Alpine is an automotive sound system specialist, possessing extensive experience in this area. As well as supplying OEM products to a range of automakers in Japan and around the world, we offer a diverse lineup of audio products under the Alpine brand. Our products have met with high acclaim. For example, over the 10 years 2010 to 2019, we took out seven Gold Awards, the top prize, in the annual Auto Sound Web Grand Prix, which recognizes the best car audio products on the market that year, and we have received numerous CES Innovation Awards and supplier awards from individual automakers.
To win over drivers and automakers in a crowded global automotive audio market, it is essential that we define our own sound. Fundamental to Alps Alpine’s sound technology is our philosophy of “controlling sound” inside the automobile cabin. Handling everything from hardware to software and sound tuning, our activities are geared toward creating mobility experiences that touch people on the inside, leaving an impression on all drivers and passengers.

Hardware Embodying Seasoned Knowledge of the Cabin Interior

Alps Alpine hardware turns the vehicle cabin into a rich audio environment, reproducing high-quality sound in many different scenarios. At the heart of that technology are speakers, which we develop with a focus on wide frequency response and low distortion. A vehicle cabin, as opposed to a listening room or a living room, is not an ideal space from an audio perspective by any means. Limitations on where speakers can be installed also mean the adverse effects of their location will influence the sound unless we broaden the frequency range of sound reproduction. And because acoustic properties inside the vehicle cabin, such as reflection and absorption characteristics, are not uniform, any speaker distortion will obstruct the effectiveness of compensation, by equalization filters for example. Signature Alps Alpine technologies Double-Gathered Edge and DDLinear both serve to reduce distortion and reproduce every detail in the original sound source. Not only that, the diaphragms make use of graphite – previously employed only in a selection of high-end camcorders – and nanofibers produced using the latest precision processing technology, realizing a wide frequency response range eliciting the finer nuances of the sound.

To fundamentally enhance sound quality, Alps Alpine also develops the components of its audio products. The finest in hi-res audio is achieved by applying cutting-edge techniques to development of dedicated parts, such as power ICs based on world-first technology and film capacitors free of impurities created using vacuum deposition. Wielding detailed knowledge of electrical circuit characteristics, Alps Alpine is continually testing the boundaries of hardware to bring out the best effects.

Software Expertise for Acoustic Space Design

Software technology upholds sound quality inside the cabin by allowing creative freedom in the design of acoustic environments. Alps Alpine’s signal processing technology follows a different concept to “pure” audio systems that take a music signal, cleanly amplify it and output the sound, instead seeking to refine the automotive-specific function of optimally correcting sound to match the varying conditions inside the vehicle cabin.
Alps Alpine also develops technology enabling sophisticated sound field and acoustic processing. RoadEQ, an adaptive sound technology realizing super-fast processing at 48,000 times per second and a 20ms noise tracking speed, corrects the frequency balance of sound as it analyzes the noise environment, which is constantly changing with the road surface, the engine, air-conditioning and other factors while the vehicle is in motion. Digital sound technology MediaXpander Plus (MX+) compensates for high-frequency components of sound missing from compressed sound sources and media like MP3 files by filling out the sound and recreating depth. In cuisine, software would equate to sauce used to draw out the inherent qualities of the ingredients and is therefore essential for sound control inside the vehicle cabin.

Tuning Technology for Sound Optimization

Hardware and software determine the quality of the sound, while tuning technology optimizes the sound field inside the cabin. It is the stage that provides the finishing touch, drawing on the specialist expertise of sound artisans and sound engineers. Sound artisans apply advanced know-how about acoustic design to influence even a person’s senses. They fine-tune sound parameters to style a sound appropriate for Alps Alpine.
Sound engineers are active all over the word – stationed, for example, in Germany or the United States. In OEM product development, they pick up on the finer details of customer requirements to make final adjustments to the sound field. Trusted by automakers, they represent the face of Alps Alpine sound.

Activities in New Sound Domains

The sound business is expanding into new domains with the transformation of the automotive industry, typically the emergence of the CASE trends. One area is vehicle proximity alert systems, which have been made obligatory inclusions in electric and hybrid vehicles. A major feature of Alps Alpine’s eSound system is it comes with a circuit board. Whereas other companies’ systems produce a predetermined sound, our product enables creative styling of sound. Our sound control initiatives are not limited to the vehicle interior either. We also have active noise control technology for canceling out engine humming and other noise from a moving vehicle using phase-inverted sound emitted from speakers.
To further expand the possibilities of sound technology, Alps Alpine is also pursuing joint research with a university exploring ways to approach human hearing. It is an initiative involving all of Alps Alpine, which has built up enormous knowledge relating to the human senses.

Alps Alpine technologies for controlling sound inside vehicles are the outcome of an integrated operation spanning hardware, right from development of individual components, and sophisticated software, as well as seasoned sound tuning expertise. Alps Alpine will continue tapping its unique advantages to create mobility spaces rich in emotion.