I suppose most people don’t really consider the impact that sound has on comfort. We go about our day with a pretty consistent baseline ambience, never too quiet as to distract from hearing the old internal organs do their thing / the old inescapable thoughts of mortality edging us closer to the abyss… as well as other less weird comparisons. Something the team behind the new Rolls-Royce Ghost learned firsthand when they discovered it was “too quiet” during the design process.
While you’d assume that a dead silent ride would be in line with the esteemed automaker’s mission statement to provide the ultimate luxury experience – how may high-end vehicles could actually claim to be silent from the inside? – the second-generation Ghost hit disconcerting levels of calm. To the point where test drivers found it to be disorienting, “bordering on nausea”, according to lead engineer Jon Simms.
The reason behind this entirely unnatural phenomenon had everything to do with:
- shifting from a steel to aluminium frame (which apparently carries less sound)
- insulating the bulkhead of the car in a 2 x soundproofed “sound-deafening skin”
- smoothing the air-conditioning ducts
- modifying the windscreen wipers
- double-glazing windows with a transparent composite centre sheet
- lining tyres with lightweight foam
- as well as throwing in 220 pounds (~100kg) of sound-insulating material
The solution? Like a struggling local rapper performing to a crowd comprised of close friends and supportive family members at a high school basketball gym, Simms asked the team to make some mo’fkn noise. In moderation, of course.
The brief entailed remaining quiet enough to maintain a whisper-level conversation while driving at speeds of 80mph (~128 km/h), still filtering out irritating incidental noises, as well as avoiding that whole nutshell of sensory deprivation-induced nausea. With all this in mind, the acoustic engineers retreated to their magical workstations to – get this – figure out how they could get the new Rolls-Royce Ghost’s various components to “harmonise”, thereby creating a subtle and non-intrusive ambience.
Dampeners were added to “tune” the seat frames, allowing it to resonate at a certain frequency instead of silencing it completely. A vent was added to the boot, allowing it to resonate at a similar frequency. The engine was recalibrated to let just enough noise make its way into the cabin. Those 220 pounds of sound-insulating material was rearranged, kicked down a notch in certain parts. And just like that, the Ghost was harmonising.
Read more about the new Rolls-Royce Ghost here.