Do you feel really tough when you rev your engine and peel out of the driveway? Turns out that satisfying roar might all be a lie.
“Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets,” says the Washington Post in a report published Wednesday.
From the Post:
Softer-sounding engines are actually a positive symbol of just how far engines and gas economy have progressed. But automakers say they resort to artifice because they understand a key car-buyer paradox: Drivers want all the force and fuel of a newer, better engine — but the classic sound of an old gas-guzzler.”
Enhanced engine sounds aren’t exactly new. In 2012, Popular Mechanics explained that many automobiles included noise-amplifying components, like the Corvette’s valve system that “opens under full throttle and bypasses the muffler,” or the “noise pipes” of the Ford Mustang that links the vehicles intake system with the cabin.
However, both Popular Mechanics and The Washington Post note some manufacturers are not merely enhancing the sound that’s already there, but actually playing back pre-recorded engine sounds to drivers. Both articles cite Volkswagen’s use of a device called the Soundaktor, a speaker that plays extra sound in cars that include the Beetle Turbo and the GTI.
A 2012 YouTube video demonstrates the difference in engine sound with and without the Soundaktor:
Karl Brauer, a senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, told the Washington Post he feels it’s “deceptive” to use fake sound.
“You’re fabricating the car’s sexiness,” he said. “You’re fabricating performance elements of the car that don’t actually exist. That just feels deceptive to me.”
Volkswagen has not responded to a request for comment from The Huffington Post.
The real question is, if what you’re hearing is just pre-recorded sound, why stop with just classic engine noises? What if people want an engine that sounds like literal thunder? Or their favorite song? Could customized engine ringtones become the next big thing? Let us know what you think in the comments!
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