“It brings the quality of a recording studio into the vehicle,” says Panasonic’s Tom Dunn. Steve Finlay reports.

Fifteen years ago, Tom Dunn of the Panasonic electronics company sat in on an industry panel discussion during which eight-time Grammy-winning sound engineer Elliot Scheiner rapped the quality of automotive audio systems of the day.

“He talked about the precision he strove for in the studio, and said, ‘I hate the way it ends up coming across in a car sound system,” Dunn tells WardsAuto. “I thought, ‘Wow.’”

With that, Dunn, director-global audio solutions for Panasonic Automotive’s US unit, approached Scheiner. “I said, ‘Let’s talk.’”

It was the start of a long-term collaboration. “We had to understand each other, us as an automotive supplier, him as a sound engineer. Using Elliot’s standards allowed us to think differently and led to us, in meetings with OEMs, to talk more about (end-user) ‘experiences’ rather than strictly the hardware. Otherwise, the discussions get dry.”

The Panasonic-Scheiner collaboration has led to various automotive products over the years. The latest is the all-new ELS Studio 3D audio system. Featuring proprietary technology that includes ceiling speakers, the system is a high-end option in the redone ’19 Acura RDX midsize luxury SUV. It goes on sale this summer. “It brings the quality of a recording studio into the vehicle,” Dunn says.  

Panasonic and Acura demonstrate the system during an event here at the Power Station, a legendary midtown Manhattan recording studio and something of a stomping ground for Scheiner. “Working side-by-side with Panasonic Automotive engineers and the teams at Acura, we were able to create a system that is both acoustically sophisticated and emotionally intimate,” Scheiner says. This article first appeared in WardsAuto.

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