Renault Group

The story behind the sound design with Jean-Michel Jarre : the documentary

25 January 2024

Artist, songwriter and author, electronica pioneer and technology aficionado, Jean-Michel Jarre is committed to working with Renault to develop the best possible in-car sound experience for the brand's new vehicles. One of his first projects was the development, along with Ircam and the group's sound design teams, of two types of sound for Renault's electric and hybrid models: the VSP (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians), a low-speed exterior warning sound for pedestrians, and the Welcome sound sequence when entering the vehicle.

The documentary "The story behind the sound design" goes behind the scenes of the work carried out and shows Jean-Michel Jarre's contribution as an artist as well as an engineer. It shines a spotlight on an amazing human adventure and explains the many issues involved in sound design, from the first thoughts to the reveal of these sounds on Scenic E-Tech electric at the 2023 IAA Munich Motor Show.

BY Emmanuel Genty

The sound of the engine, of the indicators, of the screen beeps or even the audio reproduction in the cockpit... For several decades now, Renault has been integrating the constraints of sound design into the development of its vehicles. This is logical for a brand which believes that technological innovations should have "added human value". An approach that serves customers and society.

For more than 30 years, Renault has been committed to making 'voitures à vivre'. It is in our DNA to take care of our customers and cradle them in the best possible sound environment.

Fabrice Cambolive
CEO, Renault Brand

Surrounding yourself with the best

The subject of sound design has found a new field of application with the arrival of the first electric vehicles. In the absence of engine noise, how do you 'invent' that sound? Back in 2010, with the DeZir concept, Renault proposed a 'VSP sound' (Vehicle Sound for Pedestrians, a low-speed exterior warning sound for pedestrians) that was soon to find its way onto the streets with ZOE.

The creation of such a sound, as well as all the others such as the welcome sequence on board the vehicles, integrates major challenges for a brand like Renault: putting sound design at the service of safety and sound ecology, for a more harmonious life in town, but also offering a warm and human experience on board, in the image of the brand. Technology to humanise the relationship between driver and vehicle.

To achieve this, Renault's sound design teams have long worked with partners such as Ircam (Institut de recherche et coordination acoustique musique, Paris) and composer Andrea Cera. A list to which Jean-Michel Jarre has recently been added.

An immersive sound experience

Jarre's objective is to help Renault develop the best possible sound experience on board its new vehicles, all electric or hybrid. An immersive, multi-sensory and ultra-high-quality experience, to make you feel as if you were in your own living room. For example, by developing the musical ambiences offered via the multimedia system, including an original 'podcast' mode dedicated to this type of source. The idea was also to create, through a new VSP sound and new welcome sequence sounds, an empathetic sound signature that expresses mobility rather than speed and power.

This encounter between Jean-Michel Jarre's world of sound creation and Renault's world of electric vehicles was an opportunity for the brand to differentiate itself and assert its identity in a new territory of expression that has so far been little explored and exploited.