With most drivers today spending the majority of their time in their vehicles, there is a market for quality sound systems for cars. Over the years, we’ve seen many luxury vehicles partner up with premium audio specialists to bring sound and mobility together. The latest partnership of this sort sees French acoustic engineering company, Devialet team up with electric car specialist Denza to bring its premium sound to the new Denza N7 electric SUV.
For Devialet, bringing its state-of-the-art sound to the Denza N7 is a big deal. This journey of co-engineering is a historic one as it is the first car ever to take Devialet on the road, delivering unrivalled sound quality and true luxury audio for a state-of-the-art driving experience.
In the Denza N7, perhaps Devialet has found the ideal vehicle (pun intended) to broaden its horizons in the field of automotive audio. The new SUV is a striking alignment of Denza’s vision to redefine excellence in mobility and Devialet’s commitment to elevating sound in people’s lives. Through this collaboration, Devialet’s leading sound quality and audio expertise can be experienced on the road inside a luxury electric vehicle.
To find out more what Devialet brings to the world of electric mobility with its partnership with Denza, we speak to Franck Lebouchard, CEO of Devialet to find out more.
The Denza N7 is the first car to go to market featuring Devialet’s audio technology. What convinced the company to enter the car audio space now and with Denza?
Sound is the natural accompaniment of any journey. Once you’re inside a car, music and the radio becomes as familiar as the steering wheel, something you use every time without question. Because of this, the value that high quality audio contributes to the driving experience should not be overlooked, and that’s where we come in.
Denza was an obvious partner choice for us, as a clear leader in the global EV market. The team has a commitment to redefining excellence in mobility that is channelled through everything they do. They’re particularly passionate about delivering an extraordinary cabin experience, and that is where sound plays a key role.
Denza’s dedication is something that resonates closely with Devialet – we are on our own mission to redefine what is possible in the audio industry. Our two companies share a vision to transform and are now working together to reshape tomorrow’s experiences with smart innovation, state-of-the-art technology and thoughtful design. By partnering with an equally ambitious player, we’re pioneering a new future for the automotive industry, delivering the highest standard of driving experience that is enhanced by custom-made sound for a truly outstanding journey.
What were the considerations in terms of audio technology/features the company focused on to ensure the Denza N7 was able to reproduce the sound quality Devialet is renowned for?
To create a sound for N7 that is totally unique to the rest of the industry, we first went back to basics to think about what makes sound different in different vehicles – it’s the quality of the speaker and its placement inside the vehicle.
We know that how and where a speaker is positioned has a huge impact on the listening experience so that was the first priority for our team. Our expert engineers dedicated themselves to identifying optimal placement throughout the cabin. After a lot of analysis and testing, we decided on a system of 16 high-fidelity internal speakers, designed by Devialet specifically for Denza, placed around the vehicle, as well as overhead, to create pure, high quality sound no matter where you’re sitting.
Once we had established where the speakers should be positioned, the next step was to work out how to make the sound coming out of those speakers the best it could possibly be. To do this, we incorporated Devialet’s cutting-edge, proprietary technologies – the first time our innovations have been taken to market in an automobile.
Powered by our patented SAM® (Speaker Active Matching) technology and custom woofers the N7 sound system delivers ultra-low frequencies, down to 20 Hz, that you can feel vibration through your body. At the same time, our SPACE™ technology creates an enveloping spatialisation effect, so that no matter what you’re listening to, whether it’s the radio, a phone call or your favourite podcast, it feels truly immersive on the road.
To ensure the sound can maintain its quality when the vehicle is on the move, we developed built-in SDVC (Speed Dependent Volume Control) technology that enables the sound to adapt to the shift in internal volume when you accelerate. And with built-in and custom modes, passengers of the Denza N7 can tailor the sound to the individual placement for a completely personalised journey.
How was the approach like in crafting the audio architecture for the automotive space versus the other products within the Devialet portfolio?
We are experts in sound but adapting to the complex environment of a car was a challenge. We pulled on all the expertise we have built to date to bring our first go-to market vehicle to life with the exceptional sound quality we’re renowned for.
To identify optimum speaker positioning in the car, we looked at a range of key factors, such as directivity, crossover, acoustic load and soundstage balance, so that the sound system would deliver full-bodied sound throughout the entire cabin. But in a car it’s not as easy as just finding the perfect place for the speaker, we also had to work around other essential safety and design requirements in the vehicle, fitting our speakers alongside existing components, including the aeraulics, airbags and electronics.
We worked in close collaboration with Denza’s team of mechanical engineers to work out where we needed to make tweaks to ensure the end result provided the high standard of sound quality and best-in-class tuning capabilities that we are known for, while still maintaining Denza’s overall car design.
The final piece of the puzzle was making sure that our unique design ethos translated into the final product. This required design teams at both Devialet and Denza to work together to develop slick panel grid integrations using high-end materials to create a sleek, smooth finish that is in line with both Devialet and Denza’s leading design qualities.
This is a totally different process to the way we’ve developed our own audio products, including our iconic Phantom speakers, Dione all-in-one soundbar and Diablo portable speaker, yet we thoroughly enjoyed the feat of cross-industry co-engineering, to create a custom-design sound architecture that is unique to the N7, where sound lies at the heart of the phenomenal driving experience.
What was the biggest challenge your engineers had to face in this project?
The biggest challenge was having to work around pre-existing design limitations that are essential to the functioning of the car. We not only had to tackle the complex layout of the car, but also had to work out how to successfully integrate the products inside an already crowded cabin. For example, in an ideal world looking only at optimal acoustic architecture, we would have placed a speaker front and centre to achieve the best possible soundstage, but we of course couldn’t move the rear-view mirror!
Our engineers successfully overcame these challenges by placing 16 high-fidelity speakers along the flank and roof of the vehicle, so all passengers could enjoy an extraordinary, 3D listening experience on the road.
Was it easier creating the audio architecture for an EV like the Denza 7 opposed to a combustion powered vehicle?
Getting sound right is even more important in an EV as the noise generated inside the vehicle is far quieter than in a combustion powered vehicle – the quality of the sound is more exposed. We analysed noise levels while driving in different conditions to ensure that we could deliver a wide and expansive soundstage at all times while upholding Denza’s principle of developing eco-friendly, low-carbon travel. What we have been able to create makes road trips something you’ve never experienced before.
From concept to reality, how long did this process take?
The Denza N7 took 2 years to create, with our Devialet team of engineers visiting Denza in China throughout the process to launch the SUV in March.
Is this partnership with Denza exclusive or is the company looking to enter the automotive audio space with other manufacturers?
We created a concept car with Renault in 2017 and signed a partnership with Pravaig in 2021, but our collaboration with Denza marks the first time Devialet has custom-designed an industry-leading sound system for a go-to market vehicle.
As we look to the future, we’ll be looking to enter new sectors that will enable us to keep taking steps closer to our goal of delivering truly transformative sound through unique listening experiences.
(Images: Devialet, Denza)