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‘Think about a Automotive That Conducts a Music’: Will.i.am on Making a Mercedes Sound System That Matches How You Drive

‘Think about a Automotive That Conducts a Music’: Will.i.am on Making a Mercedes Sound System That Matches How You Drive

Mercedes-AMG and musical artist Will.i.am want to change how people listen to music in the car. Shown at this year’s CES, MBUX Sound Drive responds to the driver’s inputs by enhancing tracks with a suite of extra pulsations, swells, and flourishes. 

“Nobody is making music for driving,” says world-renowned musician, producer, and Sound Drive’s creator Will.i.am. “Imagine a car that conducts a song, and the driver is the conductor,” he says during an exclusive interview with Robb Report while cruising the Las Vegas Strip in a Mercedes-AMG EQE SUV fitted with the new tech.

At the 2024 CES exhibition in Las Vegas, Will.i.am debuts MBUX Sound Drive for Mercedes-AMG.

Mercedes-AMG

The interactive music experience takes data from the accelerator, steering wheel, brake pedal, GPS, and other parameters to add multi-dimensional layers to a musical track. Hit the accelerator, for example, and a revving sound pulsates to the beat. Turn the wheel, and a flourish swells through the chorus.

“There are things that happen when you’re in a car that’s more than just sound,” says Will.i.am. “There’s this oscillation and this frequency that happens when you accelerate. Or when you roll your windows down and go through a tunnel. How do you simulate that?” And because the music responds in real time to each input, that means even the same song on the same drive will be different every time.

The dashboard of a 2024 Mercedes-AMG EQE with MBUX Sound Drive technology.

MBUX Sound Drive takes data from the accelerator, steering wheel, brake pedal, GPS, and other parameters to add multi-dimensional layers to a musical track.

Mercedes-AMG

A Mercedes brand ambassador since 2000, Will.i.am enlisted a small team of other seasoned songwriters and producers to create a suite of sounds for a handful of selected tracks, with each song individually modified with the new technology. They then worked with Mercedes engineers to integrate the technology, which runs as an app within the car’s operating system.

“When you put the team together, [Mercedes] vets your engineers, and then your engineers are working with Mercedes. And then you’re making sure you’re executing the idea to the tone of what it was from inception. It’s a dance of finding that perfect balance,” says the artist. While Mercedes is the first to use Sound Drive in its production vehicles, Will.i.am acknowledged that there could be future partnerships with other manufacturers, but he didn’t go into details.

At the 2024 CES exhibition in Las Vegas, Will.i.am debuts MBUX Sound Drive, which he helped develop with a small team of other seasoned songwriters and producers.

A Mercedes brand ambassador since 2000, Will.i.am enlisted a small team of other seasoned songwriters and producers to work on Sound Drive.

Mercedes-AMG

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For Mercedes, the inclusion of Sound Drive is part of a larger push to expand its in-car technology and entertainment offerings as it prepares to launch its own in-house MB.OS operating system later this year. It includes a new AI-powered voice assistant, more immersive navigation, and integrated apps such as Zoom and streaming video content.

A Mercedes-AMG EQE in Las Vegas at night.

“Imagine a car that conducts a song, and the driver is the conductor,” says Will.i.am.

Mercedes-AMG

For Will.i.am, Sound Drive not only offers an enriched audio experience, but opens up broader possibilities for the music industry. “It’s a whole new music economy,” he says. “It means every single person that’s a songwriter can write songs for what people do every day, whether they’re taking an Uber or driving themselves. From a creative standpoint, it’s a whole new playing field to imagine how music unfolds and how people experience it. I really truly believe a new genre will come from it.”

Source: Robb Report

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