From the outside it looks like a normal car – inside it sounds like a concert hall. This was the vision of the Sennheiser AMBEO Team as 3D audio conquers ever more areas of life. For many years, audio specialist Sennheiser has been a pioneer in a wide range of applications: from music recordings, to broadcasting at sporting events, to sound for virtual reality and even 3D sound for your own living room. Now, the audio experts are bringing this world of immersive audio to cars. Dr. Véronique Larcher, Director AMBEO Immersive Audio at Sennheiser, is convinced that cars will become an extension of the living room in the future: "We believe that the next generation of cars will offer a completely different driving experience. When hands are no longer on the steering wheel and eyes are no longer focused on the road, the driver can do a lot of other things". She also believes that voice control via integrated microphones is no longer a distant dream of the future. That's why the AMBEO team took the plunge and took on the challenge of AMBEO Mobility three years ago. It sounds logical and simple, but when it comes to implementation, it is anything but. "It is a huge challenge to bring the high-quality AMBEO audio into a vehicle," explains Véronique. Cars are acoustically complex environments that have completely different characteristics than the usual application scenarios for immersive audio and beamforming. "We had to start from scratch, first conducting tests in a wooden car with conventional Neumann speakers, and then adapting the environment more and more to a car with integrated speakers." Luca Brambilla, Project Manager AMBEO Mobility, adds: "We wanted to combine our exceptional audio quality and high standards of design with a safe driving experience. Because our goal was to create not just a good solution, but the best solution."
After ten intense and exciting months, AMBEO Mobility celebrated its premiere in August 2019 at Monterey Car Week. “In October 2018, we launched our first automotive collaboration with the Californian luxury car manufacturer Karma Automotive, and by August 2019 we were to present the finished car – for me, these were months of hell and miracle at the same time," Véronique smiles. But the result showed that the hard work was worth it: "We rocked the booth," says Luca. "The visitors queued up for the demo and they were thrilled by the lifelike sound in the car."
Following this success, the AMBEO team partnered with Continental to present 3D automotive sound at CES 2020, this time completely without speakers. The new 3D sound system, which integrated AMBEO Mobility Software into Continental's Ac2uated Sound System, utilized vibrating surfaces inside the vehicle, rendering conventional speakers obsolete.
And the journey continues, as the AMBEO team continues to pursue the common goal of bringing a unique sound experience into the car. And not just for show cars, but for everyone who dreams of having the sound of a concert hall in their car – with or without speakers.