Road noise cancelation systems are better than ever - but how do they actually work?
Making cars as comfortable and luxurious as possible is not limited to just the kind of materials used to cover the seats; noise cancelation in cars has become increasingly popular in providing a serene cabin. Although soundproofing has been a staple in the manufacturing process for ages, technology now allows us to make cars with active noise cancelation systems that actually work to decrease the impact of harsh sounds.
This refers to technology that is used in modern cars to reduce or minimize noise from the road, tires, and engine. In the same way that noise-canceling headphones work, active noise cancelation tech in your car uses microphones and sensors, which are strategically placed around the chassis and cabin, to pick up on these disruptive frequencies and unwanted noises.
Once processed by the onboard computer, a counter-frequency or sound wave is created that will effectively cancel out those harsher sounds and is played back through the sound system in your vehicle. Your audio system doesn't even need to be turned up for this to work. The noise-canceling signal isn't audible to passengers, but it effectively minimizes the noises that would otherwise be quite distracting.
Various automakers have taken to developing their own unique systems. Here are just a few worth mentioning:
There are many ways in which modern cars try to reduce noise from highways, traffic, engine, and tires. Let's take a look at some ways that road noise reduction has been implemented in modern cars, and how various noise cancelation devices for cars work together for the quietest cabin:
Active road noise cancelation is beneficial in more ways than one, and nowadays is no longer limited to only luxury cars. Here are some reasons why the technology gets our thumbs-up:
The in-car noise-canceling system runs on its own and doesn't need to be manually activated. So if you purchase a new vehicle that has an active noise cancelation system or specialized acoustic materials, you'll immediately experience the benefits. Your sound system doesn't even need to be turned up for this to work.
Cars with noise-canceling technologies actually have a few benefits when it comes to safety. In terms of active road noise cancelation, the fact that there is less cabin noise to distract the driver or cause fatigue should translate to a safer drive overall. With less road noise, drivers should also be able to focus on driving, be situationally aware, and be alert to sounds such as car horns, emergency vehicle sirens, or other warning signals. Naturally, this doesn't mean you should rely on this technology alone, as the onus for safe and responsible driving is still on the pilot. Be sure to check out our road trip guide for more tips and tricks in this regard.
In the past, quiet cabins may have been the aim of high-end manufacturers only, but as technology has advanced, manufacturers across the board have invested in it. Even more reasonably-priced vehicles from Honda, Hyundai, Kia, and Toyota now offer active noise cancelation.
While it's true that this technology emits inverse soundwaves to cancel out harsher frequencies, and these opposite frequencies are not audible to us as occupants in the car, they are not harmful in any way. By reducing the intensity of harsh sounds fed back into the cabin, this technology is actually beneficial to the driver and the passenger.