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It would be easy to think “The Sound of Silence” helped inspire the engineering team that worked on the 2012 Chevrolet Equinox.
Assigned to further improve the compact crossover’s highway fuel efficiency, the team used stereo headphone noise cancellation technology to achieve their goal.
Noise and Vibration Development Engineer Jim Vallance and his colleagues at GM’s Milford Proving Ground knew they could attain the fuel efficiency goal by running the Equinox engine at a lower RPM. But the second part of the challenge was to find a way to offset the higher cabin noise levels created by the lower RPM.
“There’s a boom, or very low frequency rumble, that comes from the engine when it runs in that RPM range,” said Vallance. “We knew if we could deaden those booms, we could run the engine at the lower RPM, which would provide a significant boost to fuel efficiency.”
Vallance and the team started jamming on ideas and came up with a noise-reduction feature similar to silencing technology used in high-end stereo headphones.
The Active Noise Cancellation module, as it’s called, detects when the engine is running in the 1,000 to 1,500 RPM range. This immediately triggers the module to create a sound-killing countermeasure through the vehicle speakers, virtually eliminating the unwanted sound from the vehicle’s cabin.
“We take a proactive approach and target only the unwanted sound in the vehicle, which in this case is linked with the engine-firing frequency. Then we eliminate it,” explained Vallance.
He characterizes Active Noise Cancellation as a “bold step taken late in development” that helped improve fuel efficiency.
Active Noise Cancellation is now standard on 2012 Chevrolet Equinox models with a four-cylinder engine. And that’s music to any fuel-conscious driver’s ears.
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