Arcam In The Fast Lane
Delivering a premium audio experience to the world’s finest supercar.
By Nicholas Clarke – Senior Director, Global Engineering, HARMAN Luxury Audio Group
On August 4th, Gordon Murray Automotive (GMA), led by Professor Gordon Murray, CBE, officially announced details of the groundbreaking T.50 supercar and it rewrote the supercar rulebook in every respect. While the information released had many tantalising details about the vehicle — such as the central driving position, the total weight of 986kg, the revolutionary aero engineering and the lightest, highest–revving, most power dense naturally-aspirated road car engine — nestled in amongst all these facts and figures were two sentences that caused a swell of pride in the Luxury Audio Group.
“Delivering a premium audio experience was a key element of the T.50 brief. Here Murray stuck to his key principals for the car: lightweight, highest-quality and British. Again, bucking industry trends, Murray enlisted high-end audio specialists Arcam to create a 700W nominal, 10-speaker, 100% bespoke sound system for the T.50.”
For such a unique car, a unique approach to the audio system was required – this was evident from the very first meeting with GMD. The weight target for the vehicle meant there would be a hard limit on the weight allowance for the audio system, but also the layout meant that there would be no room for the traditional arrangement of speakers placed all around the vehicle. It was clear that, like for many other aspects of this revolutionary vehicle, a revolutionary approach would be needed for the audio system in order to deliver to the exacting standards of both Arcam and GMA. That same evening, as is the way a lot of these stories start, a sketch was drawn up of how this could be achieved.
The speaker complement originally proposed was a 170mm woofer in each door, two outboard 25mm tweeters, two 100mm mids left and right, and two inboard 25mm tweeters. By having a central driving position, this layout’s primary focus was on the driver – in keeping with all other aspects of the car – but we should not forget the two passengers that also need the same premium experience, so the two inboard tweeters are used to “lock” the centre image as opposed to the left passenger getting mostly left audio (and the opposite for the right passenger). This initially proposed layout has survived a number of design reviews and attempts at further weight reduction and is what will be applied to the final design. Even with so many speakers, including the amplifier, the final system came in at 4.35kg, underneath the original target weight.
Having more than just one speaker per side, even in a car focused on being as lightweight as possible, allows us to offer immersive audio, using the skills developed from Arcam’s long history in home cinema immersive audio – and this will be the subject of a future article.
Even the mounting of the inboard and outboard tweeters needed to be handled differently due to the layout of the interior. For the outboard tweeter, it was possible to aim directly into the cabin, but for the inboard tweeters this was not possible. Instead it was positioned to bounce off the windscreen. This approach was also taken for the mids to maintain the required number of speakers but remaining in line with the interior design requirements.
One of the key synergies between GMD and Arcam is attention to detail, and even the pattern of the speaker grille has been a matter of intense discussion between the teams; the transparency, weight, material used and how it is mounted being critical to the final result. The end product will be revealed in time but this has been a little teaser for now.
The first production of the T.50 is scheduled for January 2022, so between now and then, we will be sure to keep you updated on progress as we work on delivering this truly exciting project.