All modern cars have their suite of electronic sounds: The ticking noise made by the turn signal, the warning chimes if you forget to put your seatbelt on or leave the keys in the ignition. Most of us don’t give much thought to these sounds, nor consider that they’re manmade.
Nissan, however, is looking at sound design as a differentiator. They’ve hired Bandai Namco, the videogame company that created Pac-Man, Tekken and other hits, to design the sounds for their latest vehicles.
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In the following video, Nissan sound design engineer Hiroyuki Suzuki and Bandai Namco sound director Minamo Takahashi discuss their goals for the newly-designed sounds, comparing the old ones to the new ones. (You don’t have to watch the video to answer the question posed by this entry, but it helps to hear the contrast in the before/after sounds.)
I agree that Nissan’s outgoing chimes are annoying, and the new ones more pleasant and friendly–but I’m wondering if that’s a worthwhile goal. Shouldn’t a warning chime be annoying by design, making the sound something you want to stop by performing the action it’s urging you to take? If the chime is too pleasant, doesn’t it remove the urgency, and/or make the listener more willing to let it persist?