Image credit: Kristen Lee

One of the spookiest things about driving a Bentley (or any luxury car of that caliber) is how silent it is inside once you close the doors. For a while, it was one of the aspects that separated the uber luxury cars from the more affordable, day-to-day ones. But that line is about to blur.

Silence is a luxury. Your hot shot BMWs and Lexus (Lexi?) had fancy tricks like extra sound-absorbing insulation and noise-cancelling audio systems to mask the racket of wind noise, engine whir and tire hum. Now, WIRED reports that carmakers are looking at new ways of masking the droning sounds in more affordable cars—especially in hybrid and electric ones that can’t rely on just the sound of the engine to hide all the other noises.

From the story:

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Economy cars now carry things like side mirrors that maneuver airflow away from your windows, suspensions that dial out road noise, expanding tape that plugs gaps, and frames to maneuver sound away from the car’s occupants—all developed with the help of mannequins with mics in their ears and giant spherical cameras that can “see” sound.

Honda has developed a new type of paint sealer, insulating spray foam and tape that expands under heating so it’ll fill in the spaces between welded bits. Volkswagen is using vibration-absorbing material in the firewalls of the new Golf. Nissan is using “acoustic cameras” to determine exactly where noise in the cabin is coming from. Mazda uses sensors to determine whether or not a noise is amplified at higher speeds.

It’s absolutely fascinating stuff, especially for someone like me who is driven absolutely insane by superfluous noises in the cabin of a car.

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The noise inside the cabin isn’t something most would think to consider right off the bat, but over time, it definitely matters. When you’re shouting to each other because riding in the Mitsubishi Evo X exposes you to a dull roar like being in a college sports bar on a Friday night, it gets wearing.

Head over to here for the rest of the WIRED story.