Smart sound in performance drive4 minutes
Pikes Peak soars more than 14,000 feet above Colorado Springs. Drivers have been racing to its summit for more than a century, making the Broadmoor Pikes Peak International Hill Climb one of the oldest auto races. It is also one of the most challenging. Competitors navigate 156 turns through thin air that slows reflexes and saps engine strength. Drivers and vehicles must be in top shape simply to finish, let alone win.
In June, the all-new 2019 Acura RDX made its Pikes Peak Hill Climb debut, with a few engine modifications. While media coverage may have focused on driving performance, new technology inside the RDX is wowing consumers with a unique audio experience created by the all-new ELS Studio 3D™ surround system, tuned by eight-time Grammy Award-winning recording engineer and producer Elliot Scheiner. It is based on an inspired approach to system design, integration and sound tuning developed by Panasonic and the technical teams at Acura.
Stephen Frey, engineering development leader for the all-new Acura RDX, and Tom Dunn, director of Panasonic Automotive Systems Company of America, share ideas behind the RDX’s technology, the design of the sound system and thoughts on the industry’s future.
Question: Talk about the collaborative innovation that went into the RDX.
Stephen Frey: The 2019 RDX is the first in a new generation of Acura products that we’re developing from the ground up. We’re returning to our core concept of precision crafted performance. Not only is this the best handling RDX ever, but we’re making a much bolder statement through exterior styling and it’s packed full of class-winning features. Because of that focus on precision, partnering with music legend Elliot Scheiner and Panasonic has been a perfect match. This car delivers an audio experience like no other.
Question: How do you create an audio experience like no other?
Stephen Frey: We’ve packed 16 speakers into this car but, what I think makes a real difference, are four Highline speakers in the roof lining. This brings the soundstage up into the cabin and really fills the environment with sound. These speakers are powered by 710 watts across 16 channels.
The craftsmanship that went into the whole system really allows listeners to hear the full spectrum of sound from their favorite music. That’s why, throughout the national campaign we launched in June featuring the sound system, we decided to pair it with the Rolling Stone’s classic, “She’s a Rainbow.” The range of performance of this system is incredibly wide; we were able to work with Elliot and the ELS team to paint a large format soundscape inside the car.
What’s more, with the new RDX we’ve also launched Acura's True Touchpad Interface™, a total rethink of automotive user interface designed from a clean slate around the driver and the driving experience. The technology makes controlling and selecting content, brought to life through the ELS Studio 3D sound system, easier than ever.
Question: Car buyers want the same level of tech inside the vehicle that they are accustomed on the exterior—how did consumer UX shape the sound experience?
Tom Dunn: What we’ve learned after 100 years of consumer technology development at Panasonic, is that the “wow” wears off quickly. Companies that successfully introduce innovations design them so consumers intuitively understand their features. With intuitive use comes delight, trust, and ultimately, from a consumer’s perspective, technology that disappears behind the experience it supports. I think you’re seeing this in consumers’ reaction to the ELS Studio 3D in the Acura RDX.
Learn more about infotainment and its future in the age of autonomy.