Adventures In Audio

The Automobili Pininfarina Battista has an amazing drivetone - Here's my attempt to copy it

by David Mellor

Wow. Automobili Pininfarina has just debuted the first pure-electric hyper GT car - the Battista. Well, I suppose it's the first because that's what the press release says.

But I don't usually review cars, so what's going on?

Well, there's something about sound in this. Electric cars don't make much of it.

Proper petrol heads despise electric cars for their lack of noise, interpreting this as a lack of authenticity, lack of excitement, lack of changing through the gears, lack of piston-churning, smoke-generating revs. Yes, revs. We want more revs.


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So if an electric car doesn't make much noise, why not give it a noise? Call it a drivetone if you like. I don't see why not.

Battista has a drivetone. A very special one. From the press release, "The individual sound is being tuned to create an emotional reaction for occupants and onlookers, ensuring Battista will deliver an intoxicating experience for all the senses."

What's not to like?

Furthermore, "Every driver has an emotional bond with a car and the sound of Battista will nurture this connection, not by replicating a familiar car sound, but with one that radiates the beauty of Battista’s design both inside and out."

So how are they planning to do this?

54 Hz

OK, it all starts with 54 Hz, which is the "core frequency for Battista". As the speed rises, the tone rises in increments of 54 Hz, all the way to 432 Hz which, from the press release again, " said to be a pure sound ... while providing greater clarity, and is easier on the ears ... delivering a distinctive and recognisable aural signature that will generate the kind of emotional reaction clients expect from a 1,900 HP hyper GT. From this starting point, the frequency will rise in multiples of 54 Hz with new sound layers added as the speed of the vehicle increases. The seamlessly responsive acoustics will reflect the pure-electric performance of Battista combining rich bass tones to create a signature sound."

I've trawled the web and as of this date I can't find an example of the "pure sound" of Battista. Notice that it's always 'Battista', not 'the Battista'.

But that doesn't stop me mocking one up.

Here's a sawtooth wave that starts at 54 Hz and rises in 54 Hz steps to 432 Hz.

Well, those are the raw tones. But this is a hyper car so you would probably want to drive a little faster. Here's a better example. I've chosen to do this over six seconds as that would normally be considered a good acceleration from nought to sixty, and I would guess that this is where the frequency might peak.

Hmm, that's not very inspiring, is it? I'll need to try a little harder. In this example I've applied a low-pass filter starting at 120 Hz and opening up to 8 kHz. Close your eyes and imagine yourself in the driving seat.

This is better. Combined with a little tyre noise it could almost be workable. Remember that it isn't meant to imitate a petrol engine, but provide an "emotional reaction".


I'm still not satisfied, so I'm going to enrich the experience further by adding some filtered pink noise, with the filter opening up as the speed increases, and a secondary tone 4 Hz below the primary, a little lower in level, to add a beat frequency. All that goes through a harmonic generation plug-in to give it an edge. Again, imagine you're in the driver's seat.

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Well that's about as far as my imagination can take it.

I might sound a little flippant about all of this, and I could well be because it isn't hard to imagine how awful drivetones might be if the concept takes off.

But my guess is that Automobili Pininfarina has engaged some of the top sound designers from film, TV, and maybe one or two synth-orientated musicians. And the result - I hope - will be mightily impressive.

As for the emotional reaction, it isn't likely that I will ever experience this as a driver or passenger, but maybe as an onlooker.

Well, I doubt that as well. They are only going to make 150. And that doesn't mean 150 a year. From all the information I can find, it's just 150 cars, worldwide, ever. Oh well, if they spread them out evenly across the world there should be 0.77 of a Battista in every country. Maybe there'll be a whole one in the UK, so it won't be more than 783 miles from where I live.

And my emotional reaction? - Something to look forward to.

Oh, and by the way, Battista can do nought to 60 in TWO seconds. Here's what it might sound like...

Monday August 16, 2021

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David Mellor

David Mellor

David Mellor is CEO and Course Director of Audio Masterclass. David has designed courses in audio education and training since 1986 and is the publisher and principal writer of Adventures In Audio.

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