Swedish digital audio pioneer Dirac, HARMAN International, and Volvo Cars, today announced acoustical design collaboration for the 2021 Volvo 60 and 90 vehicle series. The all-new “Jazz Club” mode transports drivers and passengers to the Nefertiti Jazz Club in Gothenburg, Sweden, by recreating the acoustics of the club within the car cabin.
According to the companies, the new sound mode expands Volvo’s initiative to deliver accurate real-world acoustic replications that began with its “Concert Hall” mode, which simulates the aural experience of a live performance at the celebrated Gothenburg Concert Hall.
Both modes were developed in collaboration between Volvo Cars, Dirac, and HARMAN – and combine Volvo’s acoustic engineering excellence with Dirac’s digital audio technology and HARMAN brand Bowers & Wilkins’ speaker system.
“Volvo’s successful vision to deliver truly unique in-car audio experiences reflects the growing capabilities of Dirac’s software and Bowers & Wilkins’ hardware,” commented Lars Carlsson, Dirac General Manager of Automotive Audio. “Through this second implementation of an in-car audio system that replicates lauded live music environments, our partnership has once again demonstrated the cutting-edge of audio technology and its ability to fundamentally transform the in-vehicle listening experience.”
Faithfully simulating a jazz club or a concert hall in a vehicle cabin presents significant challenges for audio engineers – as each space has unique acoustical characteristics that alter how sound travels and therefore how it’s perceived. The original acoustical characteristics of a car cabin are significantly different from a hall or a club considering the cabin’s size, shape, reflective surfaces, and more.
The companies’ approach to simulating a jazz club or concert hall begins by removing the unwanted acoustic characteristics of the car cabin to allow for the re-creation of new characteristics as realistically as possible – just like using a blank canvas so that an artist can paint freely.
To do this, Dirac leverages its patented MIMO mixed phase correction technology, which co-optimizes all speakers’ magnitude and phase response to optimally reproduce each input channel. In doing so, the technology makes it possible to remove the unwanted effects of a car cabin such as reflections and modal patterns and improve impulse responses digitally – which was previously regarded as possible only in theory.
The patented technology is the foundation of Dirac’s most advanced cabin sound optimization solution, which has been utilized by Volvo and other leading auto brands for several years.
Once the unwanted acoustic characteristics of the car cabin are removed, new ones are then re-created with high degrees of accuracy. Dirac Chief Scientist Lars-Johan Brännmark and his team began the process by visiting the club to measure and collect its “acoustic fingerprint data” – e.g. reverberation patterns, reflections, frequency and spacing – from various sweet spots. The team then copied the “fingerprint” into the car cabin – creating an algorithmic structure to accurately mimic those attributes in a vehicle interior.
The algorithm was handed off to Harman specialists, who – with Volvo’s support – integrated it with the 19-speaker, 1400-watt Bowers & Wilkins stereo system available in the 2021 Volvo 60 and 90 series.
“The performance of the new Volvo 60 and 90 series is a testament to our internal engineering excellence and strategic collaborations with select companies that provide deep expertise in highly-specific fields,” stated Vito Di Fonzo, Product Owner Audio, Volvo Cars. “Through our continued work with Dirac and Harman, we’re able to leverage their decades of experience in acoustics engineering to jointly develop pioneering solutions that set new standards in automotive audio.”
The Nefertiti Jazz Club opened in 1978 and is still run as a non-profit association today. The club’s vaulted cellar is a famously loved performance space for the biggest names in the international jazz community, and thanks to Dirac, Bowers & Wilkins and Volvo, music lovers no longer have to fly halfway around the globe to enjoy a world-class audio experience.