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      09-25-2013, 12:40 PM   #1
Jason
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Post BMW M3 M4 Active Sound: the Good and the Bad News

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BMW M3/M4 Active Sound... We Have Good and Bad News
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We have both good and bad news on Active Sound technology in the M3/M4. For those unfamiliar, Active Sound technology was first introduced in the M5/M6 and has extended to other models such as the M135i. The system reproduces the engine's sound through the car's audio system at varying sound levels based on throttle input, speed, and engine revs, as well driving the mode (louder in Sport and Sport+ settings). See BMW's original press release on this.

BMW Press Release

Active Sound Design delivers precise feedback.

M5 drivers will be given an even more direct reminder of their car’s performance capability by technology that brings the distinctive sound of the high-performance V8 – in all its glory – into the cabin of the new BMW M5. The Active Sound Design technology specially developed for the new BMW M5 takes its cues from the driving situation at any one time to deliver an accurate reproduction of the engine’s sound through the car’s audio system. The system’s digital signal processing exchanges data directly with the engine management, allowing it to reflect the engine’s revs and torque, and the car’s speed over the road. The result over a smoothly driven journey is a discreet soundtrack in keeping with the harmonious and assured characteristics of the V8 powerplant. A stamp on the accelerator, meanwhile, prompts an immediate audible response to match the instantaneous – and typically M – burst of power from beneath the bonnet.

In generating its signals, Active Sound Design takes its cues from the firing sequence of the eight-cylinder engine and the frequency range of the exhaust system. This gives the driver an extremely accurate impression of current engine load and an even more intense sensation of the V8’s high-performance characteristics. At the same time the Active Sound Design control unit ensures an even spread of sound across all five seats of the new BMW M5, while observing the legal guidelines governing noise emissions inside and outside the car. The characteristics of the sound produced by the technology also adjust to the engine settings selected by the driver. For example, switching to “Sport” or “Sport+” mode sharpens not only the engine’s responsiveness but also the acoustic experience inside the car.


So, the bad news is yes, the M3/M4 does feature Active Sound.

But, the good news is that we've confirmed with BMW Germany that it's a live amplification of the S55 engine's natural sounds. There is no artificially generated sound or pre-recorded track being played. This sound amplification takes place through the M3/M4/s stereo speakers.

Those with thoughts of disabling the amplification may be disappointed to learn that since the sound is played through the audio system, past attempts by M5 and M135i owners to disable Active Sound required pulling the stereo system fuse or unplugging a Sound Symposer unit. While the Active Sound feature was disabled with both methods, so were the entire audio systems. See the video below by BIMMERPOST members for a sample of how the M5 and M135i sound with Active Sound disabled.

Separately, we tried to get clarification on whether the manual transmission's rev matching feature could be disabled. BMW remains mum on the topic, for now.


How the M3/M4 sounds inside the cabin.






Audio system fuse pull on F10 M5.




Sound Symposer unit unplugged on M135i.



Compared to the normal sound.


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      09-27-2013, 11:23 AM   #2
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No real surprise
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      09-27-2013, 11:24 AM   #3
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So we will hear the mighty new S55 through the B & O setup...sounds sick to me.
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      09-27-2013, 11:27 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by Sean@PSI View Post
So we will hear the mighty new S55 through the B & O setup...sounds sick to me.
+1. The more engine I hear, that others around me dont hear, the better.
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      09-27-2013, 11:33 AM   #5
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I had a feeling this was coming, the engine noises in those videos sounded odd to me.
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      09-27-2013, 11:33 AM   #6
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That's pretty sad :-(

On my last four M3s I deliberately chose the low-end sound option because I prefer to listen to the engine when driving.

On a new M4 it seems I have to spend extra money on a high end sound system if I want to hear the engine at all.

I think I'm getting old.
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      09-27-2013, 11:35 AM   #7
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Major fail. I am totally surprised that a real petrol head would welcome this kind of feature.

I like engine and exhaust sound, but coming from the engine or the exhaust. That is a great disappointment to me!
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      09-27-2013, 11:39 AM   #8
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Seems like all BMW would have to do is provide a preference to toggle the feature on/off and everyone would be happy.
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      09-27-2013, 11:39 AM   #9
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For the amount that BMW spends on marketing and creating 'edition' models that are just a special paint, is it that hard to create a well engineered exhaust note?

For example, why is it that the akra exhaust on the new M5 sounds great on its own without audio amplification? Its not the turbo/non-turbo debate with exhaust note. There can be a well designed exhaust note, but BMW cheats their way in delivering that.

It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth with how 'well' engineered everything is on the M models to them taking the easy way out.
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      09-27-2013, 11:40 AM   #10
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Real question for me is why? Totally unnecessary and disappointing. Does the volume vary with speed or the volumes on stereo?
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      09-27-2013, 11:41 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bavarian19
For the amount that BMW spends on marketing and creating 'edition' models that are just a special paint, is it that hard to create a well engineered exhaust note?

For example, why is it that the akra exhaust on the new M5 sounds great on its own without audio amplification? Its not the turbo/non-turbo debate with exhaust note. There can be a well designed exhaust note, but BMW cheats their way in delivering that.

It just leaves a bad taste in your mouth with how 'well' engineered everything is on the M models to them taking the easy way out.
This has nothing to do with exhaust note, just engine noise.

I don't mind this technology since it's the real live engine noises, just amplified.

Ask the M5/M6 owners. They don't mind and love how their cars sound.
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      09-27-2013, 11:43 AM   #12
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Are they saying there are microphones somewhere on the car actively picking up an input for the stereo?

Is it just me that finds that hard to believe?
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      09-27-2013, 11:44 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glennQNYC View Post
Seems like all BMW would have to do is provide a preference to toggle the feature on/off and everyone would be happy.
THIS! Just do it BMW... Sheesh...
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      09-27-2013, 11:45 AM   #14
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that top video is amazing
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      09-27-2013, 11:45 AM   #15
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Guy 1: Wow, your M4 sounds amazing!

Guy 2: Yeah, the car is a beast. [Car goes into a tunnel and there's interference with the engine sound coming through the speakers] I know it won't happen, but that would be sooo funny
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      09-27-2013, 11:46 AM   #16
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Oh dear.
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      09-27-2013, 11:47 AM   #17
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Haha, whatever. Isn't there an iPhone app out there which synchs to your cars internals and can make it sound like you're driving a Ferrari or some muscle car? It only costs $5!
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      09-27-2013, 11:47 AM   #18
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This. Is. Horrible.

I don't care whether you love the idea or you hate it -- the fact is if you care about your audio, even a little bit, this is a death blow for the M4's audio capabilities. Why on earth do I want my perfect Spotify/MP3/etc track to be muddled with mic'd-in engine noise that you can't disable?? I guess we can only hope that one of the tuners finds a way to code it out.
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      09-27-2013, 11:50 AM   #19
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At first I was against this and thought it was kind of a cheesy feature. BUT the more I think about it, especially with it sending the actual engine sounds into the cabin, the more I actually like the idea.

I remember with my C63, I loved the sound of the engine, so much so that I would turn down the music and open the windows just to hear that beauty roar. It was kind of a pain in the ass at the same time, because I really do enjoy my music and conditions aren't always perfect for windows down in Chicago.

Its not like this technology is sending audio outside your car to make the engine sound better to others, its simply letting the driver hear their own engine, because normally the engine sound is heavily muted inside the cabin. Now the people inside can hear what the people outside hear...

I do wonder why BMW can't simply add a feature to disable this for the people who are so against it, seems like an easy feature to add in the audio section of idrive.
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      09-27-2013, 11:52 AM   #20
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Another nail in the coffin for BMW.

Do something right, with purpose and passion BMW Jesus. Remember where you came from and why you got here. I understand that companies must evolve and change but they must do it within there own brand values. It seems as though BMW's only value now is to make a buck.
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      09-27-2013, 11:53 AM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mako
At first I was against this and thought it was kind of a cheesy feature. BUT the more I think about it, especially with it sending the actual engine sounds into the cabin, the more I actually like the idea.

I remember with my C63, I loved the sound of the engine, so much so that I would turn down the music and open the windows just to hear that beauty roar. It was kind of a pain in the ass at the same time, because I really do enjoy my music and conditions aren't always perfect for windows down in Chicago.

Its not like this technology is sending audio outside your car to make the engine sound better to others, its simply letting the driver hear their own engine, because normally the engine sound is heavily muted inside the cabin. Now the people inside can hear what the people outside hear...

I do wonder why BMW can't simply add a feature to disable this for the people who are so against it, seems like an easy feature to add in the audio section of idrive.
Well said!
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      09-27-2013, 11:54 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NISFAN View Post
Are they saying there are microphones somewhere on the car actively picking up an input for the stereo?

Is it just me that finds that hard to believe?
I'm also wondering exactly how this works...
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