Jean-Michel Jarre & Sound Design For Electronic Cars

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Groupe Renault shared this series of videos, taking a behind-the-scenes look at sound design work synth pioneer Jean-Michel Jarre has been doing, along with IRCAM and the Group’s sound design teams.

The videos are in French with subtitles, and explore the team’s process for creating two types of sounds for the brand’s future electric vehicles: Vehicle Sounds for Pedestrians (VSPs) and the Welcome sound sequence, which plays when you sit in the car.

Video Summary:

“This series on the story behind the sound design shows you the work in progress and Jean-Michel Jarre’s contribution to it – as an artist as well as an engineer. It also shines a spotlight on an amazing human adventure, and the goals and challenges surrounding sound design, during the countdown to reveal the sounds that will enhance Renault’s next electric model.

Everyone was wearing their thickest coat and warmest scarf that damp and cold winter day southwest of Paris – and spending it working in an underground car park was probably not most people’s idea of fun. Except for Renault Group’s and Ircam’s sound design teams, who were back with Jean-Michel Jarre, this time at the Technocentre in Guyancourt, for a rather unusual day at work: listening to the VSPs they had created, in real-life conditions and at various speeds, to choose the best ones.

The Megane E-Tech electric doing the honours during the experiment had a busy day too, driving forwards, backwards, at 15 km/h, at 30 km/h, and parking. Lips occasionally curled in doubt but the team was generally satisfied that the sounds they had developed were what they wanted and had struck the right balance between sending a warning and showing a caring attitude.

We started with several leads, short-listed the best ones ourselves, then we let the team decide. We fine-tuned the ones we had selected and unanimously selected the final one.”

In the last decade, it’s become more and more common for auto makers to employ sound designers in the development of electric cars.

Back in 2011, we reported on sound design for the Nissan Leaf, which includes a sound synthesizer, because it’s so quiet that the car could otherwise be dangerous to pedestrians. In 2015, Roland announced that it was creating a synthesis platform for electric cars.

More recently, we interviewed composer and sound designer Richard Devine on sound design for the Jaguar I-Pace, and reported on the sound design work Hans Zimmer has done for the BMW M line.

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