Honda AVAS Questions / Information?

Discussion in 'Honda' started by Billy Oblivion, Feb 11, 2020.

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  1. Billy Oblivion

    Billy Oblivion New Member

    Hello all! First time poster - I bought a 2020 Honda Accord EX-L Hybrid this past weekend and I like it a lot.

    I’m a semi-pro audio guy, so I’m fascinated with the new AVAS “Acoustic Vehicle Alert System” on my car. Can anyone point me at additional information such as:

    - Are there (perhaps hidden) controls that will allow additional control of the sound?
    - Are there multiple sounds? If so, how to switch between them?
    - Is there a way that I can experiment with using my own sounds?
    - Who was responsible for developing the current Honda AVAS sound? Some fairly big names in Sound Design (Richard Devine, Hans Zimmer, Brian Eno (rumored)) have been involved in the development of these sounds but I haven’t been able to track down the Honda designer.

    [just a brief note to say that I understand the safety considerations that led to AVAS, and I am not at all interested in finding an “off” switch or anything else that might circumvent safety. But I’d really like to load my own sounds into AVAS on my car]

    Thank you,
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  3. Pooky

    Pooky Active Member

    Imagine if he did work with Honda on future AVAS systems. I think it could be a great platform to exhibit some of Eno's continuously-changing songs like Reflection. Imagine the sound of your car at low speed continuously evolving, now THAT would be cool.

    I don't know how to answer your question but I would personally be interested in listening to a recording of your Accord's stock AVAS sound. The Clarity AVAS was updated for 2020 and I wonder if they are the same, or what they even sound like for that matter. Although not very purposeful as a pedestrian warning system, the old Clarity AVAS system does sound very spacey and I love it.

  4. Billy Oblivion

    Billy Oblivion New Member

    My wife has the car today, but yes, I’ll post a recording of the AVAS sound as soon as I can.

    I’ve been aware of “AVAS technology” for awhile, and I love the idea. They could be the next “ringtones” ... although maybe that’s the wrong thing to say to get people excited about them .

    Something that may never happen but I think it would be neat is if cars sense other nearby cars and adjust the sound they make. For example, car 1 plays a C, car 2 plays an E, car 3 plays a G - you’ve got a CMaj chord. If you’re on the highway and ‘clustered’ with a few other cars, they could perhaps play some kind of composition? (I realize that AVAS currently only works at <30kph). If cars don’t work for you, think of electric motorcycles?

    And yeah! I’d love to have a continuously evolving Brian Eno composition running on my car!

    Last edited: Feb 11, 2020
  5. DucRider

    DucRider Well-Known Member

    There are very specific requirements for the audio alert. The current regulations specify that each model (includes all trim levels) may only generate a single sound, but there is a proposal to allow some options.
    Complete details on the current regulations:
  6. Billy Oblivion

    Billy Oblivion New Member

    Thank you for that! Interesting reading. Reading it from the POV of someone who wants to ‘get musical’ with this, there are a lot of loopholes. For instance, there is no mention of the actual timbre of the sound emitted: it could be a pipe organ, an electric guitar, etc. The stuff about using N bands of frequencies chosen from 1/3 octave bands ranging from 315Hz to 5000Hz - that’s essentially saying “pick your notes from the four octaves between D4 and D8”. The spec actually (and probably unintentionally) lays out guidelines for an automated composition algorithm. Also, I didn’t see anything that restricted the use of sounds *in addition* to the sounds described in the spec - I don’t know how they arrived at the low frequency of 315Hz, but middle C (aka C4) is ~261.6Hz, which is to say that there’s an awful lot of room for a bass line.

    The biggest obstacles I saw were that a) vehicles of the same make/model/year/trim line are supposed to sound the same, and b) the prohibition on diddling with an AVAS system except to re[air it. But this is why we have lawyers ... (and: what if I had a separate unit that played a bass / rhythm accompaniment to the actual AVAS unit? I don’t know if that would run afoul of some other law or not, as long as it wasn’t some mega-loud 4000W subwoofer kind of thing).

    Seriously, thank you for posting that. I hope I’m not coming off as argumentative - sometimes looking for loopholes is fun.
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  8. DucRider

    DucRider Well-Known Member

    A manufacturer is unlikely to spend time or money to do anything that might require lawyers to get involved, and so an OEM offering "outside the box" is unlikely.

    An owner that modifies or supplements the sound is very unlikely to be called out. Lifted trucks, modified exhaust, "upgraded" lights, are just a few examples that would not pass regs as new are routinely done and rarely called out or ticketed.

    I just can't see an officer with a sound gun trying to decide if your car passes the testing parameters as laid out. They are difficult to perform and verify by engineers in a lab setting. Not going to happen in a parking lot by a cop looking for a ticket to write.
  9. Billy Oblivion

    Billy Oblivion New Member

    > I just can't see an officer with a sound gun trying to decide if your car
    > passes the testing parameters as laid out.

    I totally agree! In fact, as I was re-reading the spec, I noticed that 50+% of it describes the testing process to determine whether or not a vehicle complies with the spec! Which, when I think about it, makes sense: if you have a standard that you want industry to follow, it’s not enough to simply say “we’ll decide if you did it right”; instead, the standards/testing agency needs to lay out very specific procedures and criteria. This is probably just common sense to many of you, but I’ve never worked much with govt or the auto industry, so for me it was a “learning moment”.

    I also agree that a manufacturer / OEM device is unlikely. Although I hold out hope that the standard might be relaxed at some point to allow car owners to select from “Sound A”, “Sound B”, etc.

    I *do* wonder about some kind of “companion” device. “Boutique” electronic music devices have been extremely popular these past few years, and there seems to be quite a lot of AVAS-like hardware out there (I stuck some URLs at the bottom if anyone is interested). I can see people doing it DIY, or maybe a Kickstarter / Indiegogo kind of thing. Even more fiendish :) there have been experiments with devices that ‘reshape’ sounds by mucking about with acoustic interference waves - think “noise-canceling headphones” but the objective isn’t “quiet”, instead it’s “making a guitar sound like a flute”.

    Alas, I remember from my motorcycle days, when I experimented with decorative LED lighting: cops aren’t uncomfortable handing out tickets and letting the matter be decided in court.

    I haven’t forgotten my promise to post the HAH AVAS sound - my wife and I share the car, and she’s ‘sharing’ it again today.


    I know this AVAS stuff is just a small part of what electric vehicles can be, but - it speaks to me :)
  10. Billy Oblivion

    Billy Oblivion New Member

    I (think I) have attached a small MP3 file of the 2020 Honda Accord Hybrid AVAS sound. To my ears it sounds a lot like the sample posted above by Pooky.

    Attached Files:

  11. Pooky

    Pooky Active Member

    Interesting. You're right, they do sound very similar, at least in timbre. The 2020 AVAS sounds like it has some higher harmonic frequencies, however. Take a close listen side by side.
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