Potemkin rumble: your car's muscular engine noise is an MP3



Sooooooo what you’re saying is Tesla can just add an obnoxiously loud engine noise to the Model S so that “car enthusiasts” will finally admit EVs are just as awesome and sexy their Dinosaur juice guzzling counterparts?


I admit to being somewhat baffled by the enthusiasm for engine noise, since noise is, every bit as much as heat, just a symptom of inefficiency, some energy not being used to propel you with suitable power.

It makes some sense if you assume an environment where all engines are rather inefficient and poorly muffled(and the most sense if every engine is identically inefficient so volume really does correlate with power); but markedly less sense given that engines vary considerably in power/noise ratio and have for some time.

So, my question, not sure if it is answerable or not based on available data at present: is ‘noise = power’ some sort of deep-seated assumption, going back to the days when big predators roared loudest, and probably as hardcoded as the competitive croaking where bullfrogs all try to croak as deeply and loudly as possible, so as to suggest to mates that they are larger?

Or is is a much more prosaic coincidence of material culture, tied mostly to people whose experiences were formed by exposure to automobiles during the era where engine design, and machining tolerances, were a bit crude; but gas was cheap and Authentic American Muscle could be achieved just by making a relatively inefficient design bigger, and likely to fade over time as the number of people raised on V8s with enormous fins wanes, and the number of people who have been pressed back into their seat by sheer acceleration by an electric motor that barely whispered while doing so?


We’ve come full circle: Here’s some people recording engine noises for Euro Truck Simulator: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XDnsAmnsqmw

But if you’ve got one of those cars that plays MP3 files for your engine noise… Someone, somewhere has to be ready to hack the Nyancat theme into that thing, right?


Never mind the Tesla, The White Zombie is where it’s at.


I feel like this is a symptom of American preference for the appearance of quality vs. actual quality.


This is a thing too…


Basically, if your hybrid or electric car is too quiet, you end up with pedestrians and bicyclists not being aware of you.

I hope the noise maker for the outside of my car is configurable. I’m looking forward to having it purr. Not like a well tuned internal combustion engine, but like an actual cat :cat:


Well they can do that if they want. I find the quiet whirr of the Tesla Roadster way more appealing. The idea that you can go fast quietly is music to my ears. It seems and feels almost magical.


They should also make the horn sound like a 150dB train horn from inside the car but have it actually sound like one of those kid’s electricity kit sound effects for all other drivers.


What’s next? Are they gonna suddenly confess that all those deadly poisons spewing from the tailpipe aren’t real, that those are merely simulated incidences of cardiopulmonary disease and cancer?


That’s exactly the point, though.

The rumble of the engine, the squeak of the suspension, the roadfeel through the steering wheel, the whine of the turbo spinning up, the panorama of well-designed mirrors, the seat-of-the-pants, the feeling of g-forces in your inner ear, the roar of 4-barrels opening, the lurch of 4-on-the-floor shifting, the smell of rubber burning (or, if you drive a mercury, add the smell of oil burning).

These are some of the many sensory ways in which a Driver merges with their Ride, allowing them to be in-tune with the health and performance of their car.

Sure, poseurs may want a “loud” engine for aesthetic reasons. But real drivers just want to hear every part of their tool, loud or quiet. None of that phoney stuff giving false impressions.

This is my ASMR.


No, real drivers wear earplugs.


It is clear you have never owned a goddam Mustang. What kind of car does your slide rule reccommend, mister math? AMC Pacer? Voom voom!


Can I make it sound like a tie-fighter?


To be fair, though, 4-banger 'stangs have always been an oxymoron.

They could even keep much of the styling so long as they changed the name.

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I propose the model be named “Gelding”


I got to witness the very cool retrofitted GSX-E electric “gixxer” motorcycle with lion batteries. It looked great, and could do rolling burnouts at 50mph. The electric motor had a fair amount of noise, but of course not as much as a combustion engine. It wasn’t a “good” noise really, but I can see how the noise grows on you as a symbol of something else you like. It could be almost any noise and if it signified power, it would become desirable.

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Well noise at the exhaust manifold is to some extent indicitative of inefficiency…it represents pressure that was NOT harvested by the engine. But of course because those who live near streets don’t want to listen to loud engines, we put mufflers on cars. And pushing exhaust through them takes energy which might otherwise be put to the wheels. So loud engine noise is evocative of either unruffled race cars or street cars that have been modified to reduce the back pressure from effective mufflers.

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Is that preference really unique to Americans?

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