It’s no secret that the Automotive Parts Manufacturers’ Association (APMA) took the name of its new electric prototype vehicle from Canada’s ill-fated Avro Arrow jet interceptor of the 1950s. But that’s not the only thing Project Arrow borrowed from the aviation industry.
The concept vehicle’s sound system, which pumps out resounding audio without using a single speaker, relies on technology that first found its niche aboard private jets — and could find broader adoption in EVs.
Joseph Butera, chief technology officer at Bongiovi Acoustic Labs, said Project Arrow is the first vehicle to incorporate from the “ground up” his company’s speakerless audio systems. A few automakers have dabbled in going speakerless, Butera said, but “no one’s really gone all the way.”
Traditional speakers have a cone that pushes and pulls air to create the pressure waves we know as sound. Bongiovi’s system skips the cone, relying instead on just an electronic device called a transducer — going to the electronic component on the back of a conventional speaker.
As opposed to vibrating a cone, the 14 transducers in Project Arrow vibrate panels within the vehicle to push and pull air to create sound.
“It has the effect of like 30 speakers, but there’s only technically six moving panels,” Butera said.
SMALL SPACE, BIG SOUND
Within the Canadian-built Project Arrow prototype, Bongiovi’s transducers are nested behind two panels in the dashboard as well as panels on all four doors. Most of the higher-frequency sounds come from the panels in the dash, Butera says, while the transducers in the doors generate much of the deeper bass.
“You only need to move it a little bit, so you don’t feel it vibrating,” he said. “But you can push the same amount of sound as a six-inch speaker by moving it a lot less.”
Project Arrow made its Canadian debut at the Canadian International AutoShow in February. Thousands of attendees listened to the vehicle’s sound system, said APMA President Flavio Volpe, and no one could have guessed it was all done without traditional speakers.
Florida-based Bongiovi Acoustics Labs was founded by Tony Bongiovi, a record producer and sound engineer and a cousin of musician Jon Bon Jovi.
The company’s speakerless audio system relies in part on its patented Digital Power Station technology, which uses an algorithm to process and optimize audio in real time. Bongiovi is working with EV makers in China who are using its audio processing technology, but Project Arrow is the speakerless system’s first real leap into automotive.