Exhaust notes have always been tricky to get right. An automaker needs to do its homework, because a car that prioritizes performance but sounds like crap probably won’t go over very well. This is still a problem for electric cars too, despite not having exhausts, thanks to regulations that require low-speed sounds to alert pedestrians and cyclists. Now, it’s time to hear what Audi has in store for its next EV’s soundtrack.
Audi on Thursday released a short video detailing the E-Tron GT’s sound. The final result is contained in the video embedded above. While it’s hard to describe EV sounds, some usual terms come to mind like “futuristic,” which is pretty much the same bucket that most EV noises are cast into. It sounds… different than other EVs, but the general idea behind it is the same, if that makes sense. I don’t know; I don’t write for Pitchfork.
Every Audi E-Tron GT will come equipped with a loudspeaker up front that will transmit the low-speed warning sounds from a stop until either 12.4 miles per hour (in the EU) or 19.9 mph (in the US), with the sound trailing off until it becomes inaudible around 37 mph. An optional upgrade will add a loudspeaker out back, in addition to two more speakers located inside the rear door panels for those looking for a bit more noise — think of it like an exhaust upgrade, just… not exhaust.
What’s more interesting is that the sounds will change based on the E-Tron GT’s driving mode. In its most efficient mode, only the front speaker will operate, and it’ll do so only at the legally mandated speeds. Bump it up to Comfort mode and the rear speaker chimes in, with the sound remaining active until the vehicle’s top speed. In Dynamic mode, the outside sound gets louder while the interior speakers bring a unique note into the cabin for a more enveloping experience. This will be the first Audi to give drivers that level of sound customization.
More goes into the creation of these sound profiles than just slapping some Pro Tools filters on stock noises. Audi’s sound designer Rudolf Halbmeir is an actual musician who fiddled with all manner of instruments to find the base for the E-Tron GT’s sound profile, from violins to didgeridoos. After striking out with conventional noisemakers, Halbmeir put a fan at one end of a piece of plastic pipe and used that bass-heavy profile as the base for the GT’s unique note. Audi’s sound designers actually created their own software to help develop the sound, which is actually an amalgam of 32 different sounds, including a cordless screwdriver.