F1 tests new microphone to improve engine noise during practice

2017 United States Grand Prix

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Formula One tested a new microphone intended to improve the sound of its V6 hybrid turbo engines during practice for the United States Grand Prix today.

2017 United States GP practice in pictures
Sergio Perez ran the experimental microphone on his Force India during the second practice session which records a distinctively higher buzzing sound than the low-pitched noise captured previously. Listen to an example of the sound here.

The quieter note of the V6 hybrid turbo engines has been a constant source of criticism from some drivers and fans since the engine rules were changed three years ago. Minor changers were made to the cars’ exhausts in 2016 in a bid to make them sound louder.

However complaints about the engine noise have continued. Earlier this week Jenson Button said engine noise is “the big one” he’d most like to change about the sport.

“With the 1.6-litre V6s, doesn’t sound great,” said Button. “I’m definitely an old racing driver when I say ‘I remember the good old days of V10s and V8s’, but they were the good old days, revving to 21,000.”

“The world’s changed, obviously we’ve got to try and be a lot greener, use electric and hybrid power. But true racer says V10 all the way.”

2017 United States Grand Prix

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    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    75 comments on “F1 tests new microphone to improve engine noise during practice”

    1. So, my dear friends who just couldn’t stop moaning about engine noises like a broken record. There you have it. A crappy microphone that picks up a different noise than the actual engine noise. Hope you’re happy now. Next time don’t bother moaning please kthxbye.

      1. The logic of your argument is extremely flawed @mrboerns. Not liking the engine sound the way it does, isn’t the same thing as saying you want this solution.

        That said, what a pathetic gimmicky thing to do and what a horrible sound. The problem of the engine sound is that it’s a V6 turbo charged engine that lacks revs (14k versus 20k) and re-uses the exhaust for energy harvesting so that what then comes out has lost it’s volume.

        1. @jeffreyj No it’s not. People just can’t shut up about noise, and this is way stuff like this happens. And this, dear folks, is precisely why we can’t have nice things.

          1. @mrboerns Because they want things that are nice, or at least tolerable?

            1. There are so many REAL problems in the world and people are STILL whining about engine noise 5 years on. Just get over it.

          2. Have you listened to yourself?

            We can’t have nice things because we ask for improvement? Extremely flawed logic.

            I’m glad Liberty are doing their best to band aid what they can for now. The new engine regs will hopefully help, but until then, we can only try and improve the sound through these kind of methods. Hopefully they can continue to find an improvement.

            Saying that, this sounded absolutely horrible!

      2. @mrboerns I completely agree. The moaning about the noise is ridiculous. I’ve seen them in the flesh and they sound more then good enough. This new “improved” mic/position sounds atrocious.

        Can we focus on the racing and be happy with the amazing technological marvel that is the current F1 engine?

        1. @homerlovesbeer If what we’re hearing here is in any way representative of what they sound like at a race track, then I’m never going to be able to watch them live, due to the headache-inducing frequencies and blipping (focusing on racing or technology is difficult if it unneccessarily induces headaches). I wonder how many other people are put off from going for the same reason? Or is the in-person sound more balanced, realistic and engine-like (in which case, it really would be just a presentation problem)?

          1. @alianora-la-canta F1 noise is really pleasant to hear! Furthermore you’ll never get the onboard sensation. What you’ll hear when attending a race is low pitched growling noises then fast upshifting and full throttle while passing by, producing a Doppler effect and it’s not boring high as in the onboard video.
            The noise in the video is wasp-like and I never had that impression when seeing the cars for real. Noise is absolutely better by quite a margin in real life than on tv.

            The micro is an attempt to try and solve a tv-only problem.

            1. @bascb @spoutnik Thank you very much for the reassurance about live audio :)

          2. The buzzing noise we heard in the FI car (I actually like it somehow, do we hear the turbo spinning? Maybe they could mix it in with the actual engine noise?) is nothing even close to what you hear in reality @alianora-la-canta. As Di Resta mentioned during the commentary, what you hear is actually not that much different from what you hear on onboard footage.

            The sound of the engines in reality is quite fine in real life IMO, just on TV you will never get the same sensation, because of laws that hold broadcasters from overdoing it with decibels and wreacking listeners ears.

        2. What racing? Oh you mean mercedes winning every race with ferrari second. That outcome is 100% caused by the engine regulations.

          If by technological marvel you mean heavy, boring, horrible sounding, slow, insanely expensive, not green, filled with driver aid electronics.. then you are right. What I find hilarious is that the people who defend these engines treat the people who don’t like them like they are some ignorant people who know nothing about the engines. The way I see it the more you know the less there is to like. The engines have this aura of fake efficiency and high power numbers but all it takes is to dig little deeper and you quickly find those numbers are just fake or misleading.

          This new engine sound clip was attrocious. The engine sound was awful and now they made it worse. But I’d guess because sound can’t be an issue for anyone then this sound is probably good enough for you too.

          1. @socksolid
            What is fake or misleading? Cars that run the same lap times as the old V12s and V10s with 40% less fuel….THAT kind of misleading? LOL

            Do you want some cheese to go with that whine?

            1. Aero is what makes the cars fast. Look at 2016 lap times for what the engines can really do. Put a V10 into 2017 chassis and you can take 100kg off of the car while it laps 5 seconds quicker and finishes a race 5 minutes quicker without refueling. At the start of race the v10 car will weight just as much as the prius engined car but the v10 does not need to carry extra 100kg of electronics. These modern cars are so obese that F1 felt the need to massively increase the aero because how fat and slow the cars were with these engines.

            2. @socksolid, no, it has repeatedly been pointed out to you that the V10 engined car would be heavier than an equivalent car with a V6 engine if it had to carry the fuel race load at the start of the race.

              In the early 2000’s, most of the V10 engines were tipping the scales over 100kg, and some were substantially over that – the E41/4 in 2000 tipped the scales with a dry weight of 117kg, falling to 105kg for the P80 in 2001, whilst the Toyota RVX-02 in their 2002 car still weighed over 109kg and the Honda RA000E from 2000 was about 110kg.

              Whilst they did get slightly lighter over time, most of the engines were still close to the 100kg mark, so you are vastly overestimating how light the V10 engines were – unless you somehow believe that the V10’s magically weight just 45kg (given that you complain that the current engines “need to carry extra 100kg of electronics”, and given the minimum weight requirement of 145kg, the only way that adds up is if you think that the engine weighed just 45kg – which is total nonsense).

              You complain that others should “dig a little deeper”, but yet you seem to be the one who is repeatedly spouting fake figures and demonstrating a clear ignorance of the sport.

            3. @anon

              V10 is faster because it is lighter. It is as simple as that.

              Your 145kg numbers are nonsensical and facturally incorrect. You have no idea what you are talking about. The 145kg number does not even include the batteries! That battery you conveniently forgot is 35kilograms for example. Are you for real? The hybrids also need more electronics onboard, more cooling which means more radiators, intercoolers and more plumbing and so forth. Those add 20 kilograms!!! Let’s put the V10 at 120kg. The hybrid is 145+35+20= 200kg. But whatever… carrying extra 80kg is awesome because of fuel efficiency, right?

              I won’t even bother going into lap time comparisons. You can’t even get the most basic numbers right. Sure, the weight difference is not actually 100kg but 80kg on qualifying lap so you sure got me there, I confess! Now do your calculation for how much fuel is 80kg because that is the amount of the v10 can carry extra just to match the hybrid’s race weight. At the end of the race the v10 is still almost 80kg lighter. Less tire wear, faster in corners… v10 is the race engine. The hybrid is a road car engine in f1 car.

            4. 40% less fuel. Who cares? they are racing cars not road cars.the engines cost more, have killed competition and privateers, and produce unnecassary penalties for drivers. Sound is part of the spectacle in motor racing. Formula E uses no fuel, go watch the instead.

            5. kpcart,
              You are particularly dull I fear. Hopefully they don’t allow you to use anything sharper than a crayon.

              The “40% less fuel at the same lap times” comment was directly answering sockpuppet and his assertion that the cars are “…slow… and not green”.

              Try to keep up, or perhaps ask your mum to read it to you and explain the “difficult” bits.

          2. @socksolid, with due respect, you have had a habit of often getting things wrong about the current V6 engines and the V8’s and V10’s of the past, then running away when somebody points out your mistakes because you don’t seem to want to accept any criticism of the older V8’s and V10’s.

            For example, you complain about the costs, but ignore the fact that the V8’s were only moderately cheap (that being a relative term, since they still cost at least €15 million a year) because the manufacturers were forced to sell the engines at a loss during the latter part of that era – Renault stated they were writing off €60 million a year in 2013 because the engines were artificially underpriced.
            Incidentally, the manufacturers agreed to a new cost cap of €12 million at the start of last year, so your complaints about the costs are two years out of date and now invalid given the cost cap of the current engines is below that of the V8 engines.

            As for driver aids, it was actually the V8 and V10 eras which saw far more in terms of driver aids than the current V6 formula – that was, after all, the era in which traction control was reintroduced, as were automatic launch control systems (though the FIA admitted that most teams had probably been using traction control throughout most of the 1990’s by the time they legalised it), the two way telemetry systems that allowed the teams to change the engine modes on the fly for the driver, the automatic gearboxes of that era and the ability for the drivers to shift engine maps for optimal traction on a corner by corner basis.

            Frankly, it feels more like you are posting from a sense of bitterness that your favourites aren’t the ones at the front of the grid and that somebody else has taken their place.

      3. You’re correlating those that don’t like the engine noise giving honest opinions, and those that might like this awful solution… and I don’t think that’s correct.

        The solution for me is to properly emphasise how amazing these engines are by offering a solution to the sound issue through something that isn’t necessarily sound, perhaps something visual, translucent housing, etc. Just ignoring people’s opinions including many former drivers is not productive.

        1. Well it seems that those that are and aren’t happy with the sound of F1 both agree that the new mic sound is awful! Did not like it at all, I don’t mind the sound either way, I tend to be focused on the racing…

    2. I don’t really care too much about the noise, but the microphone doesn’t change much about it. It seems louder, but these engines just don’t scream like the V8’s or the V10’s.

      1. For the first time in years watching F1 on TV you could hear commentators, team radio and tyre squealing/interacting with kerb clearly which was quite refreshing and really added a whole new perspective on this sport. I really dont mind reduced engine noise as long as other things like that improve the show.

      2. The new microphones actually appear to make the PU sound like a farting bee…

    3. I think for those who miss, for example, a thoroughbred normally aspirated V10 or V12, this is a long way from the answer, sort of like putting card in the spokes of our bikes when we were kids!

      With the current power-unit, in sound terms they are trying to polish a turd here. Seems to me we should just tolerate what we have for now and try to work in some visceral aural appeal with the next regulation change?

      1. Lol great comment. I know you are missing the previous sound whereas I have been indifferent to the issue, but thank goodness yesterday’s mic attempt was just a test. Love that card in the spokes comment. I found that extremely annoying, like they just put a mic on a vibratey part of the car. Or like a blown speaker. Terrible. I don’t think I could watch a race with that sound going on. I’d be too busy checking my surround sound for problems.

    4. Sounds more like an electrical appliance with this. Mission accomplished. Yippee!

    5. I’ve heard varying arguments about why these engines sound so bad. People saying it’s because they don’t have enough cylinders, don’t rev high enough, the turbo muffles them, and so on.

      I’m not convinced it’s any one thing or that those aspects are the root cause. 4 cylinder road legal motorbike engines scream just like we want an engine to scream. So capacity and cylinder count can’t be what is standing in the way.

      The F1 cars still rev to about 10-12k rpm. As a Honda road car owner, I can tell you even just 9k rpm from a 4 cylinder engine sounds like it’s screaming.

      And yes the turbo muffles the exhaust and intake roar, but nothing like as much as road car exhaust silencing systems do, and despite being quieter there are a ton of road cars with better noise.

      I can’t help but think part of what makes the sound characteristic so uninspiring is something related to the ignition timing. These cars are tuned for fuel efficiency rather than shoving as much fuel as aggressively as possible into the cylinder to gain performance. It’s the characteristic of the noise that sounds bad, not it being quieter, not it being lower pitched. It just doesn’t sound angry like even some road legal engines do.

    6. Idk what to think. That new sound is loud but you can hear more. I don’t think it’s the answer. What would help is giving the teams more fuel and fuel flow to rev to 16k rpms. That will make them sound way better but right now with the rules that will never happen

    7. (That being said not everyone will ever be happy)

    8. Revs
      That’s the solution to the noise enigma

      However, low revs make it possible for parents to take their kids to the race. Yes, I know – earplugs.

      So stupid to think it’s the 🎤

      Just listen to all those phone recordings. The noise everybody so misses is there. Just get some good sound engineers to arrange the sound !!!111!!

      1. Its not sorry mate. The MGU-H is the issue. For as long as that is part of the regulations the noise will always be compromised.

        If people are complaining about the noise, and a large amount of the astronomical engine costs relate to the MGU-H, I’m hoping they simply get rid of it when the new engine regs are announced next week.

        Don’t get me wrong, I am all for having these engines rev to ridiculously high levels, but we will continue to have this issue regardless of what the engine revs to while the MGU-H exists.

        1. People always confuse loudness with ‘the nice sound of the old engines’
          Yes, the MGU H muffles the sound, but it’s loud enough.
          But to get that screaming sound people want to get back, you need the revs. Just listen to some old videos on YouTube and you should know.

    9. Hate to be a naysayer, as they’re clearly trying… but I prefer the original noise.

      This sounds like a fly buzzing around a jam jar.

      1. Or a wasp.

        1. It sounds to me like some sort of electrical interference. Maybe they ran the microphone lead close to the ignition coil.

    10. This sounds like more “synthesized” than the original sound.

      I think we just have to accept the fact that his engines sound bad compared to what we used to have. There’s no way a low revving turbo can match a V10 for sound after all, given the slow speed of the gasses out of the exhaust, how much energy they left behind in the turbo’s turbine, and with such low revs.

      I don’t like it, but what are they going to do until the engine regulations change? there’s no much room for improvement after all.

    11. Tried and failed Liberty. At least you tried but it’s time to accept it is what it is and move on now.

    12. I believe its the ceramic microphone that was mentioned not too long ago in this article:

      I got to hear a bit more of it without commentary via one of Sky’s OnBoard feeds & to be honest I don’t really like it as while the engine does sound louder it seems to lose a lot of the additional noises such as a bit of wind noise, the floor bottoming & the rumble of cars running over the kerbs & I feel those little additional sounds add to the experience & help give some idea of how brutal (Big kerb strikes for example) driving an F1 car can be.

      1. Here is a bit more of it which I captures from the Sky OnBoard feed:

        1. @stefmeister, nice clip, at least it is possible to hear the ICE bouncing of the rev-limiter (a lot) which I never noticed before.

      2. @stefmeister It is indeed the ceramic mic.

        The standard mic’s are located low down in the side-pod, One each side for stereo sound.

        The ceramic system places 1 mic next to the exhaust exit towards the rear of the car so while it does a great job at picking up the engine note a lot of the ambient noise is lost.

        I believe that the 2 standard mic’s are still in the car & that various test’s are been done experimenting with different mixes to try & find a good balance of making the cars sound louder while keeping the ambient noises & overall richness of sound that they would like.

        I gather that the feedback from todays test wasn’t totally positive….. On the FOM side at least. Some of the people from Liberty & audio people that Liberty brought in for this were looking purely at volume & care less about the other details so are pushing for this to become standard regardless of anyone else’s concerns.

    13. I never had an issue with the sound of the new engines, (although their volume in the mix could be better), but this???!
      This is horrible!
      It’s the sound of a 1000 mosquito powered engine.

      1. Ben Rowe (@thegianthogweed)
        21st October 2017, 0:29

        Horrible was the first word that came to my mind when I heard it. I hate the idea of making them sound different to reality, let alone making them sound worse than ever. I actually like the hybrid era V6 sound more that before then. People say volume is less but I think something that makes a big difference is that they are deeper and may be harder to notice on TV speakers. When I listen with decent audio equipment, I think the current cars sound great. I may be one of the few here that think this, but that McLaren Honda easily sounds the best. That low end burble as it lifts off when breaking sounds so nice. No other cars seem to sound like that.

        1. @thegianthogweed, …..”Honda sounds …best…..when breaking” Freudian slip ?

          1. Ravy Davey Gravy
            21st October 2017, 3:36

            Did you mean braking? Or breaking as in blowing up?

          2. @hohum
            I really should have worded that more carefully. I didn’t mean when breaking down. I mean when lifting off the throttle to go round corners and then gently using the throttle again to go round a slow corner. It is then that I think the McLaren – Honda sounds really good. But I can understand how many may have taken this as “breaking down” It often sounds terrible at this point.

            1. @thegianthogweed; Yes, sorry, but I couldn’t resist the double meaning.

      2. Yeah exactly. I never minded much about the sound either. I actually prefer the current engine sound a lot more than the ear drum piercing whine of the V8’s.

        Still, this new sound is just horrendous.

    14. Sounds like a gasoline RC car to me… Well done… /s https://youtu.be/nlVCylb87nA?t=1m49s
      It’s a bit like giving a different mic to a bad singer to fix it.. it’s not gonna help.

      Gonna need to auto-tune and synthesise that stuff… so they might as well install one of these sound modules https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tk22Vxwg3e4
      Honda can use the GP2 setting…

    15. This new version sounds really bad. Extremely tinny.

    16. I tried that for 10 seconds and had to turn it off. All it seems to do is magnify the bleepy SB16-clone row that spoilt the sound on the other version.

      Next time the powers-that-be try fixing something, perhaps they ought to learn what the problem is beforehand?

    17. It sounds like the engine is being strangled. It was worth them trying but this sadly is not the solution. Personally I never felt the onboard sound was much of a problem (maybe just the volume). The issue for me is how the cameras around the track pick the sound up. I’ve heard plenty of people say they sound great in the flesh, that’s what they need to replicate. Sticking a microphone in the exhaust sadly doesn’t achieve this

    18. I feel sorry for that Force India driver driving around with a mosquito in his helmet.

    19. The engines at the track sound waaaay better than on TV.

    20. if i wrote what i think about this, it’d get deleted. So, f this bs. thank you dumbasses for complaining about engines nor being loud enough…

    21. “Obviously we have to be greener and cleaner.”

      No we don’t, scientists have even admitted they have overestimated the effects of global warming, take those tinfoil hats on and use proper engines for God’s sake…….

      1. Yeah let’s start burning lead again.

    22. I don’t really care if the engine sounds “crap”, I watch F1 to see the drivers do their thing (REGARDLESS of what those things are or how one-sided the competition gets), and something like a less roar-y engine sound isn’t going to put me off from watching the sport. All that matters is that development be pushed forward.

      1. There’s some people that share your sentiments, but people need to be more tolerant of other people’s views, and need to appreciate it’s a huge deal to some fans, myself included.

        It’s strange how the 90’s/00’s cars look faster, purely due to the sound, and that’s such a shame.

    23. What a horrible noise. Sounds like some electronic kitchen equipment.

      Good thing they tried something though. But how hard is it to have a good microphone that picks up “everything” the power unit does?

    24. Formula Eeeeeee eeeeeee eeeeeeeeeeeeee eeeeeeee eeeeeeee!

    25. 6l v12’s next please revving to over 20k. Most cars will be electric soon so plenty of fuel left just for racing cars.

      It’s also road relevant…..to Ferraris, Lambourghinis, Aston Martins….the only road cars that matter.

    26. Man, Liberty is all over this Formula One thing, giving us the buzzing hornets microphones, the Halo, driver introductions and by boxing-ring announcers, and “support races” featuring Taylor Swift and Keith Urban. I fully expect them to hire Darrell Waltrip to give us a “Boogity, boogity, boogity, lets go racing boys!” for the start of each Grand Prix.

    27. Sounds alot better, you can hear more of the engine.

    28. Perhaps the over emotional people who needed noise to be able to watch cars trying to overtake each other should have kept their mouths shut?

      You have drag racing and monster trucks for the noise show. The needy here are as bad as those who claim ‘real car people’ wont buy electric cars.
      F1 was clearly going to evolve technology wise. Why not just protest to Liberty to scrap everything now and go to 6 litre super- charged V8s.

      By the way, other formulas with louder gruntier engines arnt pulling in the fans. Motorsport is suffering across the board. So perhaps the dinosaur fan is dying out? Perhaps techonolgy and being able to hear yourself think is the answer after all?

    29. I’d rather Channel4 address the problem of the constant whining noise that is usually described as ‘David Coulthard’

    30. Actually come to think of it I am surprised they didn’t veto this experiment prior to it even getting to the point of offending our ears. One listen should have told them not to bother going any further. Back to the drawing board, or wait for the next gen of pu. Please.

    31. Why don’t they just crank AC/DC, Highway to Hell, volume set to 11 ?

    32. This is really funny. Noise gets more comments than almost any other subject. Why? This ship has sailed already. It’s possibly the ‘new’ group of fans since the Millenium, I don’t know but it’s kind of superficial to me. I have watched, participated in and driven in, motorsports since the 1960’s. The motors made whatever noise they made. The track dB limits are what they are. I can’t remember anyone walking away because it just didn’t sound right? This attempt to address the F1 sound ‘issue’ is absolutely laughable and you can poke your microphone where the sun never shines. If you have to make fans ears bleed as a way of attracting attention, then you’ve already failed. Let engines ‘speak’ in their natural voices for goodness sake.

    33. I should have added that I am appalled at the thought that Ross Brawn had anything to do with this farrago..

    34. Kasper Winding
      26th October 2017, 9:00

      Sounds like my sons 2-stoke KTM motocross bike. But then again with rumors about they are burning oil, the 2-stroke sound may be real enough. Blue smoke + screaming engine revs = 2-stroke engine.

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