Next-gen HiFi competition takes place in the car

July 29, 2014 // By Christoph Hammerschmidt
Car radio? Old school. Infotainment? Better. Now the next generation of fine audio is preparing to start at Continental and Audi. Is the golden age for audiophile car lovers arriving?

Continental is licensing the Auro 3D technology from its inventor Auro Technologies (Mol, Belgium). This technology, originally developed to fill digital movie theatres, concert halls and large auditoriums with sound, is said to outclass audio CDs. It adds height as another dimension to 5.1 surround sound, offering a three-dimensional listening experience.

The Auro licence enables automotive supplier Continental to offer the technology through its Infotainment and Connectivity business segment. The supplier in this context assumes the role of a system integrator and sub-licences the technology to its customers. The company claims that the technology scales very well. For this reason, Continental can create custom solutions for its customers in the carmaker camp. The spectrum of possible loudspeaker arrangements ranges from a simple speaker with mono sound to complex Auro 22.1 configurations.

The system utilises an algorithm called Auro-Matic to upmix older formats such as mono or simple stereo to the three-dimensional sound environment. Over the months ahead, Auro Technologies also plans to start publishing a large number of music titles that were recorded with the Auro 11.1 technology.

Also carmaker Audi is currently seeking for new audio dimensions in the vehicle. For new TT roadster model, due in August or early autumn, the company plans to offer an innovative sound system as an option. The system is based on technology from HiFi vendor Bang & Olufsen. This system already optimises the sound through a feedback loop - a microphone in the car senses acoustic dimension and background noise and achieves a near-perfect compensation of these factors. The cherry on the cake however comes from Fraunhofer. The Fraunhofer Institute for Integrated Circuits (Fraunhofer IIS) - the one that developed the MP3 algorithm - has developed a software called Symphoria capable of post-processing audio signals and optimise it for a better spatial experience. In a first step, this software applies a semantic analysis to the audio signals, separating the sound components from