Car radio? Old school. Infotainment? Better. Now the next generation of fine audio is preparing to start at Continental and Audi. Is the golden age for audiophile car lovers arriving?
Continental is licensing the Auro 3D technology from its inventor, Auro Technologies in Belgium. This technology, originally developed to fill digital movie theaters, concert halls, and large auditoriums with sound, is said to outclass audio CDs. It adds height as another dimension to 5.1 surround sound, offering a three-dimensional listening experience.
The Auro license enables automotive supplier Continental to offer the technology through its Infotainment and Connectivity business segment. The supplier in this context assumes the role of a system integrator and sub-licenses the technology to its customers. The company claims that the technology scales very well. For this reason, Continental can create custom solutions for its customers in the car-maker camp. The spectrum of possible loudspeaker arrangements ranges from a simple speaker with mono sound to complex Auro 22.1 configurations.
The system uses an algorithm called Auro-Matic to upmix older formats, such as mono or simple stereo, to the three-dimensional sound environment. Over the months ahead, Auro Technologies also plans to start publishing a large number of music titles that were recorded with the Auro 11.1 technology.
Also carmaker Audi is currently seeking for new audio dimensions in the vehicle. For the new TT roadster model, due in August or early autumn, the company plans to offer an innovative sound system as an option. The system is based on technology from HiFi vendor Bang & Olufsen. This system already optimizes the sound through a feedback loop -- a microphone in the car senses acoustic dimension and background noise and achieves a near-perfect compensation of these factors.
The cherry on the cake, however, comes from Fraunhofer. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (Fraunhofer IIS) -- the one that developed the MP3 algorithm -- has developed a software called Symphoria, capable of post-processing audio signals and optimizing them for a better spatial experience. In a first step, this software applies a semantic analysis to the audio signals, separating the sound components from each other. Subsequently, these components are redistributed throughout the car interior. Thus the acoustic pattern gets more width and depth and provides a much more spatial impression, enthuses Audi. The system has been introduced to the public at the CES 2013 Consumer Electronics Show.
Like Continental, Audi characterizes the sound experience it creates, with a little help from Fraunhofer and Bang & Olufsen, as three-dimensional.
— Christoph Hammerschmidt writes about automotive electronics for EE Times Europe.
This article originally appeared on EE Times Europe.