As automotive technology develops in leaps and bounds, becoming increasingly more intelligent and capable, the concept of what a car is has begun to fundamentally shift, with Experiences Per Mile – or EPM – becoming the metric by which consumers evaluate the true value of a vehicle. Soon, our vehicles will no longer be simply a means of transportation, but intelligent, autonomous spaces that allow us to manage – and enjoy – our lives from within them.
Amid this climate, HARMAN, a Samsung company, is raising the bar for car audio, ensuring that the evolving living space that is the vehicle is equipped with the very best in sound and the sonic features that create a better in-car experience, readying it to serve as a platform for whatever users may demand of it.
The Shifting Nature of Car Audio
As the aforementioned changes take shape, our cars are set to become our secondary personal spaces alongside our homes. Thus, our vehicles will need to be sufficiently capable to begin to offer similar levels of accessibility and convenience as our homes offer now. And as users increasingly look to turn their cars into virtual meeting spaces, or utilize them as their own personal studios or hubs for recreation, high-quality car audio stands to play a fundamental role.
The Industry Gets Behind HARMAN
As HARMAN branded audio solutions increasingly emerge as a top-tier solution for the industry, more and more auto companies are going all-in on the Samsung company’s audio tech.
A recent example is HARMAN’s new and growing partnership with Volkswagen through its Harman Kardon audio brand. After Harman Kardon premium audio was introduced to Volkswagen vehicles for the first time in the new Volkswagen Golf, its audio solutions are expanding to the Volkswagen Arteon and Volkswagen Arteon Shooting Brake models. Delivering a captivating mix of premium sound and artful design, Harman Kardon brings 12 high-performance loudspeakers and four different sound settings to these new Volkswagen vehicles, resulting in a consistently clear and exceptionally natural listening experience.
Since 2016 HARMAN’s B&O premium car audio offerings have been incorporated across the Ford lineup, including Mustang Mach-E all-electric SUV announced at the end of last year. In 2021, HARMAN’s first ever two-tier offering – the B&O Sound System and the B&O Unleashed Sound System – will be included in the new Ford F-150. Bringing never-before-seen features to the F-150, the B&O Unleashed Sound System offers innovative headrest and headliner speakers for transformative car audio experiences.
2020 also saw HARMAN brand AKG named as the exclusive audio system for the 2021 Cadillac Escalade. Sought after for its high-quality microphones and headphones that are used by leading musicians in recording studios and performance venues, AKG’s partnership with Cadillac will see its pure, powerful studio sound realized in a vehicle for the first time. AKG has provided Cadillac with a completely overhauled in-car audio experience through two levels of AKG Audio, the top level being the AKG Studio Reference system, which delivers 28 channels through 36 speakers that are powered by three amplifiers in the vehicle.
Since that historic reveal, the AKG and Cadillac partnership has grown to include the first-ever all-electric vehicle from Cadillac – the recently announced Cadillac LYRIQ luxury crossover. At launch, LYRIQ will offer a 19-speaker AKG Studio audio system that transports passengers with signature AKG sound to enjoy their favorite music.
Going Beyond Sound Systems
But the part that audio plays in the driving experience is shifting in other ways too, and the car audio of today comprises more than just good-sounding music. In the era of electric and hybrid cars that run almost silently due to the lack of a traditional combustion engine, a need has emerged for these vehicles to produce their own synthesized sounds to ensure that they remain safe to those in their vicinity, particularly pedestrians. As a result, in 2019 the EU mandated that all newly produced hybrid and electric cars needed to make a sound while traveling under a certain speed,1 while the US NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) is set to implement similar rules in 2020. As the industry looks to strike a balance between energy sustainability and safety, HARMAN is providing its HALOsonic suite of sound management solutions to create new sounds for hybrid and electric vehicles.
Another way that HARMAN is facilitating the broader development of car audio is by seeking to address the issue of peripheral noise. Based on HARMAN’s innovative HALOsonic noise management technology, Hyundai Motor Company and HARMAN released the world’s first active road noise cancellation system for a production vehicle on January 15 in Korea with the launch of the Genesis GV80 SUV. The Road-Noise Active Noise Control (RANC) solution reduces unwanted road noise by emitting soundwaves with an inverted frequency to that of the incoming noises. The Genesis GV80 also features an 18-speaker Lexicon Premium Sound System and QuantumLogic Surround (QLS), an authentic multi-dimensional surround sound technology, to inject unparalleled sonic excellence into the Genesis driving experience.
Blazing the Trail
But HARMAN’s work with prominent car brands isn’t the only demonstration of its industry leadership. Recently HARMAN brands have received a number of awards from iF Design – one of the world’s largest and most highly acclaimed design competitions. In addition to 20 award wins for consumer products, HARMAN brands also took home five awards for car audio design.
Harman Kardon received an award for the sophisticated yet highly functional design of the sound system it delivered to the new Volkswagen Golf, and also picked up an iF award for its work on the Polestar 2 sound system. B&O was also awarded for the “elegant and unbridled” premium in-car sound system it designed for the Ford Mustang Mach-E.
As the role our vehicles play in our lives looks set to expand and deepen, car audio stands as an area that will fundamentally shape and enrich user experiences going forward. At the forefront of this trend, HARMAN is providing some of the world’s most iconic car brands with a whole new standard of in-car audio and sonic capabilities, while stamping its leadership and innovation on the industry more broadly.