By on November 12, 2019

Noise-canceling technologies have become a handy little tool wedged inside the belt of many automakers. Aimed at reducing unpleasant road noise, most systems invert incoming sound waves to produce an exact negative of the ambient sound you don’t want to hear. They work best when you don’t notice them, which is pretty much always, but Hyundai Group claims there’s more work to be done before the tech is perfect.

As a result, the Korean manufacturer has developed an upgraded version of its current active noise control setup (ANC), one it calls “the world’s first Road Noise Active Noise Control.” Rather than simply piping in sounds designed to offset road noise, the new system (referred to as “RANC” by the automaker) also analyses in-cabin sound to make adjustments to help nullify unpalatable engine and road drone. 

From Hyundai:

The existing noise insulation method involved sound insulations and dynamic dampers, which not only increased weight but also failed to block the buzzing infrasound completely. In contrast, ANC utilizes much lighter parts like microphones and controllers to control the noise and reduces infrasound more efficiently. The technology is already available in some Hyundai Motor Group vehicles.

However, due to the limitations of noise measurement and analysis technology, the existing ANC was only able to be utilized when noise was constant and the occurrence of the noise predictable. The Group’s current ANC technology has been most commonly used to counteract constant engine noise. Given that it only takes about 0.009 second for road or engine noise to reach the passenger, the current technology was limited.

RANC is supposed to be able to identify more sounds at a much quicker pace, allowing so-equipped vehicles to do a much better job at creating the sounds of silence. According to Hyundai, it only takes 0.002 second to analyze the noise and produce an inverted sound wave, generated by the Digital Signal Processor (DSP). The cabin microphone constantly monitors the road noise cancelation effectiveness while acceleration sensors monitor the vibration from the road to the car. All of that data is then fed into the DSP so it can make on-the-fly adjustments.

Through testing, Hyundai claims the new system was able to reduce in-cabin noise by 3dB and may allow the carmaker to use less sound-deadening materials in the future, potentially reducing vehicular weight and material costs. However, it took quite a bit of R&D to get here. Hyundai spent the last six years working with Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, WeAcom, ARE, BurnYoung, and others to produce the RANC system.

Mass produced versions of the new noise-canceling tech will be handled in association with the audio wizards at Harman. Your author actually got a look (or listen) at some of the technologies the pair were working on last year and was rather impressed with the latest noise-cancellation tech — though we were only to try it in a little room, rather than a fully functional automobile.

The first RANC systems are said to be fitted to an upcoming Genesis model, with plans to expand from there.

[Images: Hyundai]


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16 Comments on “Selling Silence: Hyundai Developing Advanced Noise Cancellation System...”

  • avatar

    I think they just inadvertently published exterior and interior shots of the upcoming Genesis SUV.

  • avatar
    Kyree S. Williams

    I remember that INFINITI debuted a similar system that produced inverted waves to counteract engine noise, on the then-new 2011 M37.

  • avatar

    My 2003 Nissan 350Z had this technology, Bose calls it Audio Pilot. My current 2014 Corvette has it too. In theory the system should be great, but in the real world it doesn’t work very well. Mainly because the amps and speakers chosen are such cheap junk they can’t produce the necessary frequencies (inverse sound waves) at high enough volume levels. It works with headphones because A) you are blocking the sound physically and B) the inverse wave is generated by a large speaker mere millimeters from your ear.

    While DSP and amplifier technology have come a long way in the past few years, speaker technology is still pretty basic. You need multiple, large speakers as close to your ear as possible to make this work. Now SUVs give you the extra space but for smaller cars, which ironically need the most help, you just can’t stuff enough big speakers in the cabin to offset the road noise.

    Maybe Harman can do a better job then the Bose systems I am familiar with because everyone appreciates a quieter vehicle interior. Just as long as there is an off button so I can enjoy my Borla exhaust when desired.

    • 0 avatar

      Just designing a system that will play nice with an aftermarket amplifier would be a start!

      Most aftermarket amps will interfere with the Honda system, at least, causing buzzing and other distortion.

      I don’t get into aftermarket sound myself, but this is one more obstacle in modern vehicles for those who do!

      • 0 avatar

        They make OEM interface units to handle this. They tend to be pricey, the unit that allows me to plug into GM’s system costs $400 to $800 depending on features! The days of just swapping in aftermarket amps are gone as the OEM used priority signals and processing. The chimes, voice directions, Bluetooth, etc mean you are no longer dealing with just a “radio”. Its a digital communication bus that also carries some audio signals.

        Systems like RANC will only make aftermarket integration worse.

  • avatar

    Man, if they can make this a retrofit kit, could it lead to the resurgence of the Iron Duke?

  • avatar

    I prefer wearing noise cancellation headphones, at least in flying vehicles.

  • avatar

    “the new system (referred to as “RANC” by the automaker) also analyses in-cabin sound to make adjustments to help nullify unpalatable engine and road drone.”

    oh so they’re catching up to what other automakers had in 2013. Good to know.

  • avatar

    I stumbled across this website the other day

    As far as I can tell, the company is developing a chip for noise cancelling (which they obviously presume will improve on current chips available).

    Additionally, as far as I can tell, it’s still vaporware, opps! Still in development.

    For cars, they suggest putting the speakers in the car headrests, or near the source of the sound such as in a/c vents.

    So, I’m guessing noise cancelling will be the next big option in cars – powered by these guys or someone else.

    What caught my attention are their (proposed?) home units. I have a noisy Whirlpool refrigerator that makes me crazy and which my frugal spouse says is still too new to replace. I was searching for a solution and found these guys but can’t seem to find any of their products on the market.

  • avatar
    Polka King

    I don’t think it can be done. A 1kHz wave is about a foot long. Move your head six inches and the wave isn’t cancelled, it’s doubled. And halve all the distances with each doubling of frequency.

    • 0 avatar

      These systems are calibrated as shown in the picture with microphones near where you head will be located. The DSP normally includes not only frequency response compensation, but also adds a tiny time delay in the signal as well. For example the driver’s side speaker is closer to your ears thus it needs to be delayed enough to equal the distance (really time) to the passenger side speaker. This way the wave hits both ears simultaneously. DSP technology is pretty amazing these days since like all computer related stuff its gotten massively faster, cheaper and smaller.

    • 0 avatar

      Polka King is correct. Phase distortion,as described, when a sound wave from a different source arrives in or out of sync. This could be from multiple speakers or reflected, echo, sounds.
      Long ago I had discussions about this with sound techs. This was when placing multiple speakers all over became a “thing” starting in the late 1970s. Whether it was at a concert hall or in a car, many speakers spaced some distance apart had this problem. Some of the techs thought it could be handled with a time delay. Which will help in very narrow circumstances. This is one of the reasons I stopped going to musical performances. Most venues, with all those speakers, had a sound somewhere between a close by jet aircraft taking off and a herd of stampeding cattle.
      When I talked about this with the techs their reaction was as if I told them my cat could sing like Robert Plant. They were listening and tweaking the sound on headphones.
      There would be a lot less need for “noise reduction” if vehicle makers used engines that had less vibration than the ubiquitous 4 cyl inline. The flat 4 is inherently smoother. However it is either long gone, VW and Porsche, or its current iterations, Subaru, have other problems.
      Also tires are noisier now than several decades ago.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The day the develop a noise cancelling system to silence children quarreling in the back seat, I’ll be sold to the system.

    And/or a nagging wife at the front seat.

  • avatar

    “Hyundai claims the new system was able to reduce in-cabin noise by 3dB”

    3dB? Better than nothing, but doesn’t seem like much to brag about. For comparison, noise canceling headphones are on the order of 20dB.

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