Your Own Personal Harman Wall Of Sound

You know the trouble with cars? Passengers. Passengers will insist on talking or have an irritating habit of wanting to listen to music or radio that you, merely the beleaguered driver and owner, can’t abide.

Yours truly is, for example, forbidden to play Machine Head or Tons Of Sobs (“for the umpteenth time”) when Mrs DW is aboard. Thankfully audio/infotainment experts Harman have come to the rescue of all Dads forced to listen to the soundtrack from Peppa Pig. While there are many different sounds generated in-vehicle, not all of these sounds are relevant to all passengers, say Harman, quite rightly.

Today’s explosion of portable electronics and in-vehicle technologies like navigation, hands free calling and Bluetooth connections have dramatically altered our driving habits and in-cabin experience. Navigation prompts and phone calls are important for drivers, but interrupt the music for passengers. Games, audio books and digital videos for one passenger result in a cabin filled with sonic clutter for all. Fortunately help will soon be at hand. Harman, who already supply several car makers, are introducing their new ISZ technology that can help reduce that clutter, ensuring that all occupants in the vehicle hear only what matters to them. “Individual Sound Zones and the HALOsonic technology suite”, says Michael Mauser of Harman, “enable auto makers to offer enhanced experiences to passengers, as well as imagine new possibilities as the car itself continues to evolve in use beyond the traditional people mover. With Harman’s science-based architecture and acoustic precision, we’re pushing the barriers of sound and creating the ultimate personalized experience throughout the vehicle cabin.”

ISZ is an innovative acoustic design and complementary digital signal processing that maximizes speaker directivity and minimizes crosstalk in and between the zones in a vehicle for a more personalized in-cabin experience. ISZ does not eliminate all sound signals, but tunes the vehicle to ensure passengers audio experience is optimized for their location in the vehicle and current mode of listening. The technology utilizes a vehicle’s existing audio system speakers with the addition of headrest speakers equipped with micro speaker technology, along with thin and flat Electro Dynamic Planar Loudspeakers in the vehicle ceiling. The digital signal processing has been specifically adjusted to the vehicle cabin and speakers such that it will temper the signals from other zones, regardless of whether they are music, voice or other noises. In other words, occupants have their own personal sound space. That’s impressive.
Each passenger can activate and control their zone. Passengers can still hear other sounds in the cabin, but those sounds are controlled in a way that limits the interruptions and distractions to each passenger’s own sound experience. The configuration can be customized based on the cabin design and layout of vehicles, as well as type of vehicle. Individual Sound Zones can be integrated into any HARMAN in-car audio system via the amplifier, providing car manufacturers limitless possibilities to further enhance in-car listening experiences. It is available now to all motor companies. Now, about those back seat drivers…

Geoff Maxted