During the IAA Mobility Show this year in Germany, Dirac and Trèves showcased revolutionary technology using a Tesla Model Y. Trèves’ new Sonified technology paired with Dirac OPTEO tuning teased the future of the car cabin at the event in Munich.
The Tesla Model Y’s journey with Trèves’ Sonified technology starts with a unique exciter design. Audio exciters are audio processing tools that manipulate sounds through synthesizing harmonics/harmonic distortion, usually in the high-frequency range. The new design was so exciting, Mark Cooper— Trèves Sr. VP of Global Sales and Product Lines—joked with Teslarati that the company considered spelling everything with a capital “X” as in eXciter.
Cooper knew Trèves developed something special with its new eXciter. Ironically, exciters aren’t that exciting in the automotive audio realm—despite their names. It would take someone with experience to realize the potential of Trèves’ unique eXciter design. Enter Dirac.
Hendrik Herman, Dirac’s Vice President of Automotive, shared his first experience and initial shock with Trèves Sonified technology.
“And so at one point, you know, we met, and I had the chance to listen to one of the demo cars in an earlier revision. And I need to admit [I] was a bit biased because exciters, in essence, have been around for audio reproduction in the past. But they never excited anyone—to be honest—because the performance back in the days or by, let’s say, competitors out there—setups that we had seen over the last maybe five to 10 years—simply were not what you were looking for.
“So as I said, I was very biased first meeting with Mark and team about, you know, having exciters, and I was like, ‘Yeah, well, not the exciter story again.’ But then I was astonished and surprised [at] how well it was working. I mean, it was perfectly integrated. And it was a completely different experience,” Herman told us.
What is so different about the Trèves eXciter?
So what actually makes the Trèves eXciter revolutionary? Essentially, Trèves reimagined the design of an audio exciter—sort of like Tesla reimagined the idea of a car to develop its electric vehicles today—and started from the ground up.
“The head of innovation was working with a friend on what [we could] do with these fabulous exciters but differently. And that’s what we’ve done: basically, rather than have the exciter stuck on a piece of hard trim that rattles, it’s inside the soft trim. And that’s where it’s easy to understand the difference: soft trim doesn’t rattle,” Cooper shared.
The difference between Trèves’s eXciter design and other companies’ designs appears to start from their perspectives. Typically, new eXciter designs would come from companies specializing in audio. They usually focused on replacing the loudspeaker with new audio exciters and placing them in the same places in cars.
Cooper explained that exciters would be placed on surfaces fixed onto car bodies with screws and pop rivets. Over time, the exciters would shake the surface, and the screws and pop rivets would come loose, resulting in a buzzing noise and terrible audio.
Trèves’s mother company, Trev, does not specialize in audio—hardware or software. It specializes in NVH and interior trim, providing a unique perspective to audio exciters. The Trèves eXciter is decoupled from the hard surfaces of a car’s body, effectively eliminating the buzzing noises and rattling caused by regular exciters. But it doesn’t end there. The redesigned eXciter also changes how sound is released, creating a new audio experience since loudspeakers were first placed in cars.
“So whether it’s been the Dirac guys or some of the other audio specialists when they’ve heard our cars, they said it sounds different from an out speaker. And that’s got people excited because loudspeakers have been in cars for like 50, 60 years. So we all know what they sound like,” stated Cooper.
What’s so exciting about the Trèves eXciter?
Better sound quality is not what makes the Trèves eXciter different—even though it does deliver better audio. What’s so exciting about the Trèves eXciter is how the sound travels out of it, creating a distinct sound experience and many possibilities for cabin car designs. Cooper summed the new eXciter’s unique capability the best.
“If you can imagine the loudspeaker, it’s [a] cone, and it creates like a column of air. And as the air moves, it makes the pressure in your ears. And that’s how the sound is transmitted, right. So you’ve got a column or a piston of air coming off the loudspeaker,” he said, guiding us through a mental experience of Trèves Sonified technology.
“What [Trèves does] is we have a plate of composite material, which is about the size of a hand, for example, in a headrest or under the seat. And as we move that whole surface together, the sound doesn’t come up in a piston; it sort of spills over the edge.
“Okay, so the actual source of the sound is not easily identifiable. And that’s where the audio industry is saying, for emissivity, which is exactly what Hendrik was talking about at the beginning. This is great because it allows us to put the source of the sound closer to the ear without making it directional. And that’s what’s got everyone so excited right now,” explained Cooper.
Trèves Sonified technology allows designers to reimagine a vehicle’s cabin since traditional loudspeakers could only be placed in certain areas of a car. The Trèves eXciter can be placed in other cabin areas, creating numerous possibilities—especially for automakers seeking to create cabins with better entertainment features.
Trèves and Dirac plan to team up again on another Tesla vehicle for CES 2024 in Las Vegas.