Will The New Roland Car Synth Be A Platform For Synthesists?


In August, Roland Corporation and electric car manufacturer GLM Co., Ltd. announced plans for a ‘car synth’ – described as a ‘neo-futuristic driving sound generation system’ for GLM’s electric cars.

Because electric cars are so quiet, manufacturers are adding electronically generated sound effects, for safety and aesthetic reasons. The driving sound system for GLM’s ZZ model, above, will be implemented using Roland’s SuperNATURAL synthesizer technology. The car’s synthesized sounds are modulated in real-time, based on driving situations like acceleration, deceleration, and motor load variances on sloping roads.

The promise of a Roland synthesizer engine being in automobiles – and the fact that the sound of electric cars doesn’t need to be tied to the sound of a physical engine – made us wonder if this could become a new platform for sound designers and synthesists.

Roland-car-synth-sound_kitSound Synthesis For Electric Cars

We asked Roland about this and this is what we were told:

“The Roland US folks checked with the team in Japan to see where things stand, regarding your question. Japan said they actually received many similar questions when they held a press event in Tokyo a few months back.

While they are interested in some of the possibilities to utilize their EV sound system using their technology, they don’t yet have any firm plans that can be publicly shared yet.

It’s common for people to load different sound profiles for their computers or to load custom ringtones for mobile devices. It’s not too much of a stretch to think that you could create customizable ‘sound profiles’ for cars.

While Roland’s official response doesn’t offer any insight into their future plans for their automotive synthesis platform, it’s clear that there’s interest from sound designers.

25 thoughts on “Will The New Roland Car Synth Be A Platform For Synthesists?

  1. Isn’t Amon Tobin and PEUGEOT Fractal already doing the very same thing? A new law requires electric cars to emit a sound because they’re too quiet while driving. So PEUGEOT got Amon Tobin to design all of the sound for their car.

  2. I want to patch my car to make an obnoxious fart sound 1) to rebel by not buying a crappy aftermarket melon launcher muffler and 2) to reinvigorate the analog vs digital debate.

  3. Quite the assignment. Design sound for a vehicle that will be interesting at first, never annoying, and will hopefully become unobtrusive within 20 minutes.

    1. Isn’t the whole point that this creates an opportunity to do something thoughtful and even creative, vs just creating more noise?

      If your point is that the need for cars to be audible is inherently an unsolvable problem, that’s a little sad. Maybe the city is not for you.

      1. I do live in the city and noise pollution is bothersome, and electric cars where perhaps a solution to lowering the amount of of noise that traffic creates. Whether it is the sound of an engine or a synthesizer when you have many sources all creating sound at once it eventually fills up the audio spectrum and just turns into noise. Perhaps the tones these new cars will produce will be inherently more pleasant than a engine, but rush hour is likely to still sound like rush hour. I suppose it’s a moot point as electric cars are unlikely to replace fossil burners anytime soon but I can still dream of a quieter highway.

  4. I hope they release the SuperNatural Synth patches for loading into SuperNatural synthesizers. I want to load car sounds into my Integra 7. I’ve made my own for sound effects, but if it’s made to be in a real car it’s gotta be better than anything I could do.

  5. Your car sorta does a pitch ramp when it is revving and your here the pitch of it going up as it accelerates…
    Does the Roland car allow you to use the D-beam for steering when it is in cruise control ?

  6. There is the possibility of using “sonar” or GPS data to provide meaningful sonic localization cues to both driver and pedestrians. This could also be projected with accuracy to intended recipients to reduce “noise pollution.” It isn’t pollution if its wanted information. And it doesn’t have to be heard miles away.

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