Ford ignores the noise for good vibes

Ford claims noise cancelling technology enhances driver comfort

Published: November 16, 2015, 6:00 AM
Updated: November 18, 2015, 5:35 AM

Ford Active Noise Control works like noise-cancelling headphones

There used to be a time when auto journalists would talk about vehicles’ sound systems with the disclaimer that auto cabins are not the best places in which to just sound quality, but all that has changed with recent sound reproduction technologies.

Acoustically tempered glass and panel insulation can only go so far toward reducing noise from outside the cabin, but it can’t cancel out completely. That’s where noise cancellation comes in. Working like the headphones growing ever more popular in today’s world, Ford’s Active Noise Control (as one example but not the only example) emits sound waves that cancel out unwanted noises from the drivetrain and the rush of air around the vehicle. Ford’s technology will start to.

“Noise is intrusive and reduces the driver’s mental processing power, and can lead to distraction and stress,” said Dr. John Cartwright, chief medical officer, Ford of Britain. “By removing unwanted powertrain noise, Ford is helping customers to complete their journey calmly and in comfort.”

The technology, which is debuting in Europe’s Mondeo Vignale and will start to proliferate through the entire Ford line starting in 2016, uses three microphones strategically placed in the cabin to detect background noises and feeds them back into sound system to “node” out the noises.

The system is tested on various surfaces at Ford’s test facilities worldwide to fine-tune it for all surfaces and conditions.

Sound engineers from Sony worked with Ford designers and engineers to tune the Vignale 12-speaker audio system to deliver exceptional sound with a customised stereo mode and a true surround-sound experience. A Class D 10-channel amplifier is smaller and requires less power from the car's electrical system while offering features such as stereo and surround DSP modes, and speed sensitive volume control.

“Delivering this luxury depends on reproducing sound as the artist intended and underpinning the acoustic emotion with the look, touch and feel delivered by our elegantly styled and carefully constructed centre panel design,” said Ian Hubbard, global automotive entertainment director, Sony Europe Limited.

“Whether listening to a favourite playlist, tuning into a much-loved station, or simply enjoying a respite from the demands of modern life, the experience of sound – and just as importantly silence – can be a fundamental part of an enjoyable car journey,” concludes Dr. Ralf Heinrichs, supervisor, Noise Vibration Harshness, Ford of Europe, “Our new Mondeo Vignale with Active Noise Control offers drivers enhanced levels of comfort, and fewer distractions.”