The distinct sound of a Porsche 911 Carrera vrooming by has a long and storied repuation for quickening the pulse and raising the arm hairs of men young and old.
It’s got depth. It’s licentious yet sophisticated. It’s kind of romantic.
And there’s a reason for that: it’s composed.
As in: Porsche employs a team of in-house acoustic experts led by Dr. Bernhard Pfäfflin, the marque's "head of development for vibrational technology and acoustics." Long before a model reaches production, they toy with the sound the engine will produce, each covering a broad and unique range of frequencies that distinguish it from other high-end sports cars while maintaining Porsche's signature song.
Pfäfflin and co. employ a variety of techniques to attain adequate sound standards of sound. They start by creating a concept out of genuine sound — that is, noise from real instruments, whether digital or analogue. Then they play with the engine's anatomoy to reproduce that sound: exhaust is re-routed, vibrations dampened, mufflers redesigned. And there are rigorous parameters as to what flies. I.e., don't expect a day in the future when drivers will be able to download and choose an vehicle’s output.
The next challenge for Porsche? Figuring out how to apply the same acoustic standards they've always had to electric vehicles. By nature quieter, laws are already being formulated to regulate the volume of e-cars. But a bit of noise keeps drivers, bikers and pedestrians alike safe — a traffic jam of mime cars is a dangerous thing.
So the next time time you hear that refined roar, take comfort that it’s here to stay. That somewhere in Weissach, a team oled by a man one part engineer and one part virtuoso, is fine-tuning the next ensemble. After all, no one’s breaking a neck for a Saturn.