the sound of speed

The sound of speed

Apr 02, 2019
At the mere mention of Formula 1, our minds are flooded with the famous faces, slick cars, and most prominently, the unmistakable sound of the world’s fastest tearing around the track. There are few sports as synonymous with sound as Formula 1, and none as associated with speed, so it’s only fitting that their latest endeavour is all about combining the two. But first, a little more about the world-famous audio accompanying this historic sport.

No matter the manufacturer, the sound of a modern day Formula 1 car is comparable to nothing else. The high-pitched shriek of the current V6 engines gives voice to the vehicles, getting louder and higher as they approach, before a change of pitch sees them speed off into the distance. It’s the machines’ incredible revs-per-minute, supreme power and lack of muffler that creates this deafening sound – while it’s the scientific principal of The Doppler Effect that leads to the change in tone with respect to the listener’s position.

For die-hard fans, the emphatic noise is key to the experience; with aficionados identifying a car simply from the engine’s scream. It’s why there was uproar from fans and racers alike as the 2014 season’s engine laws made for a quieter sound;  Lewis Hamilton even added his voice to the argument by describing it as “sad to see the cars come by now”. Many now long for the old days, when the roar of certain cars was legendary and unapologetic. The Mercedes-Benz W154 from the 1930s, the McLaren-Honda MP4 from the 80s, and Michael Schumacher’s 2001 V10 Ferrari are just some of the sport’s most iconic sounds. 

But, we can’t talk about Formula 1’s most iconic sounds without mentioning Fleetwood Mac’s, ‘The Chain’. A song deeply synonymous with the sport, the spine-tinging bass progression has been welcoming viewers to the BBC’s coverage since 1978, before the TV rights were lost to ITV back in 1997. However, this short interval only strengthened the relationship between the sport and the song. When the BBC finally announced they’d be broadcasting Formula 1 once again, ‘The Chain’ burst back into the UK charts; and such is the fanfare, a social media campaign was even launched to get it to number one. Fleetwood Mac isn’t the only act to lend its sound to the sport either, some of the biggest names in the world – including The Weeknd, Liam Gallagher, Bruno Mars and Taylor Swift – have delivered show-stopping performances at Grand Prix’s the world over.

The Chemical Brothers are another act merging their talents with Formula 1 – but they’re doing it in a whole new way. This world-famous duo is renowned for pioneering brand new technology and pushing it to the limit in their music – and the latest example is their creation of the fastest remix of all time. Their brand new track, ‘We’ve Got to Try’, has been accelerated to 15,000 beats per minute, mirroring the 15,000 revs per minute today’s F1 cars can reach, leaving the song with a total run time of just three seconds. Titled ‘WGTT15000BPM F1 NEEEUM MIX’, the remixed track is to be Formula 1’s brand new sonic logo; a point of instant recognition for fans whenever they hear it. Much like screech of an F1 car speeding by, the pitch of the sonic logo shifts, reflecting the Doppler Effect and iconic sound we associate so much with the sport. 

It’s a project designed to strengthen Formula 1’s identity through audio; taking inspiration from the iconic engine sound and bringing it forward to the digital age. The Chemical Brothers were given three seconds, and they optimized every single instant to fit an entire song into this space, all while making it relevant to the sector. Here at PHMG, our business has been built on optimizing every moment. On-Hold Marketing maximises the impact you can have on a caller in the time they wait on-hold – ultimately reinforcing the way a powerful audio brand can see a business race ahead of the competition.