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WATCH: “Interstellar” maestro brings space age soundtrack to BMW i4, i4M and iX all-electric models

BMW i4

BMW i4

Published May 13, 2021


MUNICH, Germany - One of the key areas of concern, particularly for petrolheads, when it comes to electric cars is that there’s no thundering soundtrack to engage with in the cabin when you’re really on it. That’s set to change in future as BMW and legendary film score composer Hanz Zimmer embark on a journey to discover how to give an electric car a soul-stirring soundtrack.

Hans Zimmer (right) with Renzo Vitale on video chat discussing the sound of M

Introducing BMW IconicSounds Electric

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BMW IconicSounds Electric is said to bring an unmistakable sound portfolio to BMW models powered by a fully electric or plug-in hybrid drive system. The collaboration between composer and curator Hans Zimmer and Renzo Vitale, creative director Sound at the BMW Group, has produced a distinctive driving sound that customers will soon be able to experience in a version developed specially for electric BMW M cars.

“Every BMW has its own character, which is reflected in the sound it makes,” says Zimmer. “So for the electrically driven BMW M models we have developed a driving sound which accentuates their emotional driving experience particularly vividly and ensures their performance can be felt with even greater intensity.”

No engine, no exhaust. Synthesised sound is the future for cars

Not the first time you’ll hear Zimmer in a BMW

Legendary Hans Zimmer had previously been involved in the development of an inspiring ready-to-drive sound for electrically-powered BMWs which instils a sense of excitement at the prospect of electric driving when the start/stop button is pressed. The latest chapter in this collaboration covers drive sounds for the BMW iX and BMW i4, including a differentiated sound for the M-specification version of the BMW i4.

While we’ve experienced the hush nature of electric driving and it does offer an unprecedented level of comfort, the driving experience loses a degree of emotionality.

This is where BMW IconicSounds Electric is stepping in to put smiles on the faces of drivers keen to experience sheer driving pleasure with all the senses.

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BMW iX centre console

Different sounds for different driving modes

BMW electric driving will be enhanced by acoustic feedback to every movement of the accelerator. Like the on-board driving modes selectable at the touch of a button, the driving sound also takes its cues from the driving situation at hand and the driver’s personal preferences.

In the basic setting, BMW IconicSounds Electric is said to employ a transparent timbre with spherical components to convey the basic character of an electrically driven BMW brand model.

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Then an immersive and pleasant atmosphere is created initially in the BMW i4 in Comfort mode. But when the driver steps on the accelerator, the direct relationship between how the car is being driven and the sounds it makes is immediately revealed: the sound experience deepens as load and speed increase.

In Sport mode, in particular, the car’s aural spectrum is more dominant and powerful, the sound providing a constant commentary on the driving situation. Drive system processes are registered within milliseconds and acceleration, load changes or recuperation given a suitable acoustic accompaniment.

Only when the vehicle is travelling in Eco Pro mode is the acoustic feedback reduced to nothing. Here, the silence of the drive system underscores the driver’s decision to adopt an ultra-efficient driving style.

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A deeper aural note for BMW M models

In the version developed specifically for electrified BMW M models, the drive sound of the BMW i4 is charged with extra energy, according to BMW. Added to which, the differentiation between Comfort and Sport mode is especially strong.

“The drive system note displays a less harmonious but engagingly rousing and technical sonic profile. Acceleration sparks a rich intensification of the soundtrack’s development, authentically reflecting the car’s performance character. When you press the pedal of an M car, you suddenly get goosebumps all over your body,” says sound designer Renzo Vitale. “We translated this feeling into a drive sound that expresses a fusion of superior power and flowing energy.”

The new drive sounds developed as part of the collaboration with Hans Zimmer are expected to feature in the BMW i4 and BMW iX over the course of 2022. IconicSounds Electric comes as standard in the BMW iX and can be specified as an option for the BMW i4.

In cars with earlier build dates, the new sounds can be imported retrospectively via Remote Software Upgrade, should the customer wish.

The future is sounding very good, and we can’t wait to tell you what all this acoustic wizardry actually sounds like.