The State-of-the Art Meridian Audio System in the Kia EV6 Transforms the Cabin into an Immersive, Interactive Digital Space
Kia's new fully-electric EV6 crossover comes packed with technological innovation under the hood, so to speak. But the high level of technology in the EV6 extends into the cabin, which offers passengers a refined and minimalist space.
Another important part of the passenger experience of the EV6 is its state-of-the-art Meridian audio system. In an electric vehicle, the audio system plays a more central role, providing the soundtrack of the vehicle, including the electronic sounds of the near silent powertrain.
Kia shared the details of the high-end audio systems and how it contributes to the heart and soul of the futuristic EV6. Kia says its state-of-the-art audio tech and cabin arrangement played an important part in the EV6 being named this year's "2022 Car of the Year" at the European Car of the Year (ECOTY) awards.
An audio experience designed and developed with Meridian Audio
The powerful, 14-speaker Meridian surround audio system delivers a truly immersive experience in the EV6, says Kia. It was designed, engineered and optimized to deliver an exceptional audio experience. It includes a subwoofer for powerful bass and tweeters that produce high frequencies at the upper limit of human hearing.
For its development, Kia built a concept vehicle for the specific purpose of conducting countless experiments in order to fine tune the audio output. During this phase, Kia said it worked closely with Meridian's world-renowned sound engineers to deliver the highest levels of sound quality.
The EV6 sound system features several of Meridian's proprietary digital signal processing (DSP) technologies to produce natural, lifelike and authentic audio in the vehicle. The audio system is also equipped with Meridian's advanced tech capabilities to enhance the listening experience for all occupants, not just the driver.
These innovative features include Meridian's Intelli-Q, which automatically adjusts the EV6's sound performance based on vehicle speed and the audio source.
Another feature called Meridian Horizon provides an immersive multi-channel audio experience when listening to standard, two-channel stereo recordings.
Third, the Meridian Re-Q removes unwanted cabin resonances, which Kia says preserves the natural rhythm and timing of the performance.
The EV6 speaker system also benefits from a feature called "Electric Active Sound Design" (e-ASD). It's a suite of newly-developed features that enhance the EV6's cabin space by providing a soundtrack to the electric powertrain. It's the first time the technology is offered in a Kia model.
e-ASD allows drivers to select from various "virtual engine sounds" of their choice. The sounds are linked to the selected driving mode. Each one is tailored to the characteristics of the EV6's pre-programmed drive modes, which include Eco, Normal and Sport.
"The Meridian sound system enhances the innovative, energetic and vivid DNA of the Kia brand," said Jaeok Lee, Vice President, Infotainment Engineering Group at Hyundai Motor Group. "Our goal was to create a very special experience for Kia customers and this includes Meridian's refined sound quality, with an added sense of space and accuracy, an elaborate branded speaker grille design and the aesthetics of the amplifier in its hidden location."
Other automakers, including Porsche and BMW, are also developing signature sounds for their electric vehicles. Porsche developed its own signature sounds for the electric Taycan.
Porsche wanted to create a unique sound signature for the electric Taycan that is said was "authentic" yet also futuristic. The sounds make the Taycan stand out, but also provides audible feedback for drivers, such as when the accelerator is floored, so a driver feels more connected to the car.
In Feb 2020, Porsche purchased a stake in Silicon Valley-based audio processing company DSP Concepts, Inc. The company specializes in developing software for audio signal processing and audio algorithms used to create these types of signature vehicle soundtracks.
BMW hired world renowned composer Hans Zimmer to create an iconic modern soundtrack for the electric i4. The sounds provide audible feedback when interacting with the car and provide the driver with an audio confirmation for each driver input.
For example, when accelerating, the BMW i4 produces a subtle digital synth sound mixed with an orchestral layer, letting the driver know that the EV is responding to their inputs. These types of sounds are important for an electric car, since the electric powertrain is near silent.
The sounds of the BMW i4, for example, are reminiscent of a sci-fi movie soundtrack. Zimmer is best known for composing the soundtrack for dozens of Hollywood films, including the 2014 science fiction movie Interstellar.
For years, drivers have been captivated by the signature sound associated with high-performance vehicles, such as the Porsche 911 and Audi R8 and Ford Mustang Shelby. In modern EVs that produce virtually no noise, these sounds can now be digitally recreated using speakers in the cabin.
When combined with an audiophile-grade Meridian audio system like the one in the EV6, its creates a more immersive and connected driving experience.
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