Perfecting the Porsche sound of the new 911 Carrera
Raise your hand if the sound of a Porsche 911 at full chat is one of things that drew you to Zuffenhausen’s iconic sports car? Here at Total 911, that flat six soundtrack is certainly enough to raise the hairs on our neck time after time.
When it was announced that the 991.2 generation of Porsche 911 Carreras would forgo their naturally aspirated engines in exchange for downsized turbo units, we were (like many) worried about the sound of this brave new world.
As it turned out, we had nothing to fear; the 991.2 Carrera may sound different but it is still unmistakably a Porsche 911 at all points in the rev range. For that, we have one man to thank: Dr Bernhard Pfäfflin.
The name may not be as recognisable as August Achleitner or Andreas Preuninger but Pfäfflin’s role at Porsche is no less important. As Head of Vibrational Technology and Acoustics, the 49-year-old is the man in charge of ensuring the 911 sounds like a 911.
While each model has to match its character (a GT3 will be more raucous than a Carrera, for example), it is imperative that “the car has to sound like its output,” according to Pfäfflin. This means there is no synthesised sound in the new Porsche 911, just carefully tuned real world acoustics.
To ensure the final product sounded just right, Pfäfflin’s team of sound engineers was working on the 991.2 Carrera’s vocals before the first engine prototypes had even been built.
While the chassis and powertrain were still being designed, it was the job of Bernd Müller – responsible for gas exchange acoustics – to begin digitally deciding the sound of the new Carrera, calculating the outputs of various different exhaust combinations.
Hundreds of sound files were eventually whittled down to just three or four before the final decision is made by the board (after much intensive debate). With soundtrack chosen, Müller then set about creating the ideal specification for the exhaust system, from the diameter of the pipes to the size of the silencer.
Of course, the two turbochargers added to the new Carrera’s 9A2 engine added an extra aural element into the mix. However, Müller was able to harness the unique sound using specially adjusted wastegates to ensure the distinct turbo sound is sporty without droning at cruising speeds.