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Audio without speakers: Continental makes car parts sound

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F ette subwoofer in the trunk or under the seat, filigree tweeters in the A Columns and powerful mid-range speakers in the doors - these or similar audio extensions in cars could soon be a thing of the past. With Ac2ated Sound, automotive supplier Continental has developed a loudspeaker-free vehicle audio system with supposedly excellent acoustics. The system was presented for the first time at the IAA 2017. At the CES 2020 Conti is presenting a new development partner in Sennheiser. The audio specialists Sennheiser contribute their patented AMBEO 3D audio technology to the Ac2ated system. The aim of the sound concept is to achieve an immersive reproduction that puts the vehicle occupants in a completely new, lifelike world of sound.

Sennheiser contributes its AMBEO 3D audio technology.

Much less weight and installation space

That The conventional functional principle of an audio system in a car - making the membrane in loudspeakers vibrate - is completely thrown overboard because it has many disadvantages. Regardless of the vehicle segment, users usually place high demands on the audio system of a vehicle. For this reason, common audio systems usually require multiple speakers and channels to create a three-dimensional sound experience. The integration of the individual sound sources often poses challenges to vehicle design and construction.

The sound waves are generated by actuators that cause components in the car to vibrate.

That should become easier in the future. Inspired by how string instruments work, the Continental system replaces conventional loudspeakers with actuators that generate sound by causing certain surfaces in the vehicle to vibrate. The speakerless audio system offers a number of advantages over traditional technologies: it weighs significantly less, significantly reduces the required installation space and also consumes less electricity.

Compared to conventional high-end audio systems for vehicles, Continental promises With a speakerless solution, the system volume is ten times smaller or even less, and the weight of the system can be reduced to a fraction of the weight of solutions with speakers. In order to achieve good 3D sound, conventional high-end audio systems often require between 10 and 20 or even more speakers. Due to the construction of a conventional loudspeaker, the system usually weighs over 15 kilograms and has a total installation volume of ten to 30 liters. Depending on the version, the speakerless audio system from Continental weighs just one kilogram and requires an installation volume of just one liter. The invisible vehicle audio technology can also be integrated into all vehicle models - from high-end sedans to small electric vehicles. The elimination of loudspeakers also offers interior designers new possibilities, as they no longer have to plan space for the sound sources.

Bass from the roof lining

The new Continental system should offer excellent sound properties.

With the Ac2ated Sound System from Continental, the sound waves are generated by compact actuators that resemble the core of a conventional loudspeaker. These transducers consist of a magnet and a coil that generate micro-vibrations. Instead of the vibrating membrane of a conventional loudspeaker, the transducers excite larger components and surfaces that are already in the vehicle in order to emit sound.

Certain elements in the vehicle interior are suitable for the three main frequency ranges required. The A-pillar is suitable for high frequencies, door panels can transmit the middle, large components such as the roof lining or the rear shelf can generate low frequencies and thus a powerful bass.

The Conti system can also be scaled. An inexpensive entry-level system with three audio channels can be upgraded to a system from the mid-price segment with four to six channels and finally to a premium solution with up to twelve channels. In the latter, even the front seats are used as a sound body. Conti emphasizes that the system has been independently certified to have excellent acoustics.


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