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Here's How Gran Turismo Captures Its Impressively Realistic Car Sounds

ferrari sound recording
How Gran Turismo Records Its Realistic Car Sounds GTPlanet / YouTube

The CEDEC+KYUSHU 2023 conference was held last November, but details of a specific technical presentation just came to light. The presentation centered around the process that Polyphony Digital sound engineers follow to make the cars sound realistic in Gran Turismo. A recent video neatly summarizes the microphones, techniques, and software tools used to make the cars in the game sound like the real thing.

Gran Turismo is a video game, but it is marketed as a real driving simulator. That means the team at Polyphony Digital strive to make the cars in the game mimic real cars as closely possible. That includes the look of the car, the driving dynamics, and of course the sound. Now we know just how much effort goes into capturing it.

Over the course of the 25-year history of the Gran Turismo series, the Polyphony Digital sound engineers have recorded over 1700 vehicles. As you would expect, the recording methods have dramatically improved during that time. In the early days 2 channel, 16-bit digital audio tapes were used to capture engine and exhaust sounds. Now 8 channel, 24-bit recorders capture engine and exhaust sounds, but also intake, interior and tire sounds.

For the Gran Turismo Sport release, the team tested over 50 different types of microphones before deciding on which worked best in capturing various sounds. One microphone was selected for intake sound, another for engine sound, and three different microphones for exhaust sound.

Polyphony Digital sound engineers work closely with various tire manufacturers to capture accurate tire sounds. The cars are recorded on test tracks in Japan, America, and Scandinavia. The tire sounds are recorded on various surfaces including dry tarmac, gravel, dirt, wet, and snowy roads.

The Advanced Engine Sound Synthesizer (AES) uses physical modeling for engine sounds to create sounds for vehicles that don’t exist. Gran Turismo 7 also got 3D audio -- traditional surround sound gives the listener the sense that sound is coming from four different directions.

It's all a serious commitment to realism, maxing out every possible metric the designers have at their disposal.

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