Roland Bringing Synthesis To Electric Cars


Roland Corporation and GLM Co., Ltd. have announced an agreement to co-develop a ‘neo-futuristic driving sound generation system’ for GLM’s electric sports car.

GLM is the manufacturer of Japan’s first mass-marketed electric sports car. Because electric cars are so quiet, some 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.



Roland’s electric car sound kit, above, will power the ZZ model’s sound generation system with sounds that change depending on real-time driving situations like acceleration, deceleration, and motor load variances on sloping roads.

According to Roland, the system leverages their work on creating responsive virtual acoustic musical instruments. They say that the same technology will be used to create futuristic sounds that respond to the driver, driving conditions and more.

Main features of the Roland sound generation system:

  • Generates driving sounds depending on the driving situation (e.g. acceleration, deceleration, and motor load variances)
  • Roland’s SuperNATURAL synthesizer technology is used to synthesize ‘dynamic, neo-futuristic sounds’, then reproduce them through the car’s stereo speakers.
  • Driving situations are detected by the system in real time through a car-mounted network that measures the car’s speed, pressure on the accelerator pedal, and load to the power system.
  • Drivers can select from several driving sound types based on their personal preferences.

The driving sound system option for GLM’s ZZ model featuring Roland’s sound-making technology will be available this fall.

Could the growth in electric cars lead to new platforms for synthesists and sound designers? Leave a comment with your thoughts!

37 thoughts on “Roland Bringing Synthesis To Electric Cars

  1. This is a golden opportunity for the future of all things awesome. Quick, someone get Ben Burtt on the phone, we need him now more than ever.

  2. Hopefully Korg will answer with some sort of analog synth for real petrolheads … Volkauto? Volcar ? Probably it`s the time to make strategic partnership deal with Volkswagen, to secure new segment of growing synth market!

    1. Electric cars are quiet enough that visually impaired people can’t tell that they are coming.

      So the question is whether you add fake car noise, because that’s what people expect, or use this as an opportunity to do something more creative and interesting.

      1. This is just for the driver to get feedback while driving that is normal with a gasoline engine.

        Maybe I’m missing it, but it doesn’t say anything about broadcasting the sounds outside the vehicle.

        1. It doesn’t specify so I wouldn’t make an assumption either way. But both are very feasible.

          I really like the idea of adjusting sounds due to road conditions. For instance, if it’s raining out, you can amplify the acceleration a little bit to make the driver feel as though they’re driving faster than they are, thus reducing their overall speed and making accidents less likely.

          Now, if the audio system fails and maybe doesn’t produce ANY sound or very low sound when accelerating, it could have the opposite, potentially disastrous effect.

          1. Well the article does specify it’s for driver feedback.

            Adding external speakers wouldn’t be tough, but internal car sounds are different from external car sounds. Two different sets of sounds honestly.

            Would you Doppler the external sounds to give an indication of direction?

            I just mention it because the intended use seems to be driver feedback, and not a safety thing for other motorists or pedestrians.

            1. Fair enough. Although, to be a bit pedantic, i do think that driver feedback is instrumental in the safety of others as well.

              Correct me if I’m wrong, but the Doppler effect would still be an active phenomenon whether the sounds are synthetically or mechanically produced. I mean, the sound source is still travelling at X speed in a particular direction. I don’t think the sound being ‘organic’ is a requisite.

              1. I was going to say the same thing: pretty sure those external sounds will Doppler* themselves.

                *When did this became a verb?

  3. I’m all for giving electric cars a bit more sound so that people can hear them come up in back of them while walking easier. That’s fine.

    But what bugs the holy heck out of me are ‘muscle cars’ with gasoline engines that are well-designed and quiet, though fast that must be ‘augmented’ with fake engine sounds to make the pathetic creatures who buy them feel like they have a little apparently much-needed ‘manhood’ between their legs. Psychologically speaking.

    1. Here’s a link to a report about this, for those that aren’t aware of it:

      “Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away.”

      I’m interested in the creative opportunity the transition to quiet engines provides, vs the practice of giving cars fake engine rumble.

  4. I think it’s a good feature, some times my car is so I can’t tell if it’s on or off, if the battery is dead or I just turned my lights off. Hard to tell when I’m pushing the engine also.

  5. Thanks Astrospy I’ll take it from here

    Automatic windows with ADSR and 5 LFO waveforms incl. S+H.

    Standard 19″ roof rack or Euro format – YOUR CHOICE!

    Want to control your wiper blades with the radio tuner knob? Perhaps reverse the gas pedal and brake pedal? Use our dedicated dashboard software editor to reroute every part of the car.

    Only comes in AIRA green

  6. some of the points made in the article posted by synthhead makes sense, but there are too many aspects of the phony ‘mustang sound pipe’ nonsense of piping engine noise into the cabin just to get a thrill. Honestly, chop your exhaust and put some cheap glass packs on; everyone will hear you coming, and applaud you leaving. I’m all for quiet cars (and especially their owners stereos), but if you have to legislate some noise to be noticed something is wrong with pedestrian behavior.

  7. We’ve got shitloads of Teslas and other brands here in Oslo. No problem hearing the tyres on our rough roads at all.

    Anyways – I want to use my own samples for my electric car sound.. A voice making the sound kids make when they play with their toy cars.. A carefully chosen set that reflect acceleration, slowing down etc…

  8. I was always under the belief that we invented car stereos as not to listen to disturbing engine noise, just play a tune and play it loud. Big news, the sound of an engine is not divisive in transportation, it plays no advantage – it is just friction getting in the way of smooth operation. Yet people are clinging onto that, is that not pathetic?

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