“Surround sound in cars is going to drive the market for DVD-Audio and 5.1 surround, the same way car systems did for the cassette and the CD,” says multiple Grammy Award-winning producer/engineer Elliot Scheiner.
Mr. Scheiner is putting his words into action, by working with U.S. Panasonic (Southfield, MI) to develop an OEM car sound system that will appear in a Japanese luxury car for the 2004 model year (appearing September or October of this year).
“Surround sound in a vehicle sounds great,” Mr. Scheiner said with enthusiasm, speaking to a meeting of the Audio Engineering Society in Banff, Canada earlier this week. “When people hear it, they get it right away, they want it for their own car.”
Elliot Scheiner knows what he’s talking about. Over a 36-year career as a popular music engineer, producer and mixer, he has worked on releases by a who’s who of the music industry, including Steely Dan, Van Morrison, Sting, Aretha Franklin, James Brown, The Eagles, Fleetwood Mac and many more. He has won Grammy Awards for “Best Engineered Recording” twice, and received nearly 20 nonimations in all.
For the past three years, Mr. Scheiner has devoted himself almost exclusively to surround audio production and re-mixes, winning praise and awards for more than a dozen key titles including Queen’s A Night at the Opera, Faith Hill’s Cry, Steely Dan’s Two Against Nature, R.E.M.’s Document and Automatic for the People, and Beck’s Sea Change.
Panasonic announced its collaboration with Elliot Scheiner at the SAE World Congress in Detroit last week. Speaking in Banff, Mr. Scheiner indicated that the new in-car system will be a fully discrete 5.1 multichannel system – and that it will be branded with his name.
“Ours will be the first car surround system with true discrete multichannel,” explains Mr. Scheiner. “Mercedes is coming out with a DVD-Audio-based surround system [developed by Harman], but it isn’t true multichannel. It uses Logic7 [a proprietary Harman International DSP processing algorithm] to simulate 5.1 channels, after down-mixing the DVD-Audio to stereo.”
“It makes all the difference in the world,” he continues. “I demo’ed my system in Detroit for a couple of Mercedes execs, with one of the R.E.M. DVD-Audio’s, and then let them take the disc over and try it in their system. They came back and said – ‘hey it doesn’t sound the same at all, we can’t hear the voices in the back and all those details.’ ”
Mr. Scheiner says the specific car model that will offer his new signature surround audio system will not be announced until sometime in April at the earliest. However, CarConnection.com reports that the car in question will be the new Honda Acura TL, and also indicates that other automakers are considering the system for their own luxury models.