Beyond: A Lamborghini Podcast heads into the world of sound design with Lamborghini’s Chief Technical Officer Rouven Mohr and sound designer Charles Deenen
Sant’Agata Bolognese, 19 September 2023 – Having successfully established itself across two previous episodes, Beyond: A Lamborghini Podcast is exploring a different kind of feedback for its next instalment. Hosted by Lamborghini Director of Communications Tim Bravo and lifestyle and music broadcaster Giulia Salvi, the focus is on the way sound shapes our relationship with cars.
For this episode, Rouven Mohr, Chief Technical Officer at Automobili Lamborghini, is joined by Charles Deneen, a composer, sound designer and audio director who has a worldwide reputation thanks to his work in video game design and for numerous Hollywood blockbusters. Amongst others, Deneen helped shape the automotive soundtrack for The Fast and the Furious series, the seventh highest-grossing franchise in movie history.
Once again, Beyond: A Lamborghini Podcast has united two individuals whose childhood passions have helped them forge highly successful careers. Mohr is presiding over Lamborghini’s technical destiny at a pivotal time both for the company and for the automotive industry as a whole. Lamborghini’s new hybrid super sports car, the Revuelto, takes the Italian automotive legend into new territory, not least in terms of the noise it generates as the iconic V12 engine revs to its thrilling 9,500rpm redline – but just as significantly when it’s in ‘silent’ electric mode. Rarely has the sound of a new Lamborghini – or the absence of it – demanded so much attention, as Mohr explains.
“Sound design is a really specific discipline within the engineering job. Sometimes the intention is to make it perfect, but we don’t want to eliminate all the ‘side effects’. It has to be authentic [which means] it can have imperfections. The biggest thing is when you have a technology transformation, for instance going from a naturally aspirated to a turbocharged engine or now to the hybrid version – or in the future a fully electric car. Doing this technology jump without losing the Lamborghini sound DNA is a big challenge. But if you try to do something artificial, the sound impression is decoupled from the real physical reaction of the car – the reactiveness of the car is not fitting to what your ears are ‘telling’ you.”
As ever at Lamborghini, authenticity is key. For Deneen, the guiding principles are similar, as he seeks to ‘replicate’ the sonic signature of some of the world’s most resonant engines – whether for a film or in a video game. But he faces his own distinct challenges, as he explains.
“I have to figure out what’s in Rouven’s head! The [engine’s] reverberations, the distinct sound when it starts or shuts down… All of those things have to get captured, recreated and then made in a way that will never become too overwhelming in a game because a player has to play for 20 hours, right? So it’s really important to find that balance of getting all of these great parts together and yet not throwing it into someone’s face.”
Mohr and Deneen are both scientists of sound, and music fans in their own right, Lamborghini’s CTO citing Nineties hip hop as an important influence during his formative years. In every sense, they want to keep things ‘real’. But new technology is clearly a vital force in their respective territories, Deneen positing an interesting role for the subject that’s currently exercising a lot of the world’s sharpest minds: AI. It could be used, he suggests, to tailor the intensity of the music according to your driving style and the specific moment a driver might find themselves in.
“When you’re starting to slow down, [the music] could go to just the drum beating,” he says. “Then you start to speed up again and all of a sudden a drum solo begins and you go faster and then the chorus picks up. Those things would then become your new soundtrack in the car.”
In many respects, Deneen and Mohr find them-selves patrolling the analogue/digital frontier. And a key task is to find the correct balance between the two ‘competing’ elements.
“Technology is an enabler. But if you're missing that heart, once you're missing that soul, yes, you have a sound, but does that sound of a ‘spaceship’ really attract you for driving a car for a long time? Personally I want to ‘hear’ some heart, I want to hear some soul and that’s the difference. Electronic sounds are easy to do, but they’re not easy to do to make them feel.”
As Mohr explains, his team’s rigorous research into the emotion of the driving experience has resulted in some fascinating, and perhaps unexpected, findings. A Lamborghini is such an all-encompassing sensory experience that it communicates its emotions in a multiplicity of ways.
“You can measure this from the physiological point of view. What would remain of a typical Lamborghini feeling if we used noise cancellation? The Lamborghini driving DNA is not only about the sound, it's also about the shape of the acceleration, about how many vibrations are transported to the steering wheel. It’s also about how the car reacts, how the front axle is following your steering impulses. You still can perceive a Lamborghini as a Lamborghini even if you eliminate the sound of today.”
For the Revuelto, of course, the full-blooded V12 soundtrack is more pulsating than ever. But the future is being written now, and it ‘sounds’ hugely promising.
Beyond: A Lamborghini Podcast is available to listen to on Spotify and Apple Podcasts, to watch on YouTube for a fully immersive experience, and via the special podcast hub on Lamborghini.com/podcast. A new episode will drop each month.
 The vehicle is not yet offered for sale and is therefore not subject to Directive 1999/94/EC. The fuel consumption and emissions data are in the type of approval stage.