When Devialet and ArianeGroup make you feel like a rocket taking off

Devialet has the art of the superlative to sell well. The French sound specialist invited with ArianeGroup, Tuesday November 30, 2021, to listen “the most powerful man-made sound on Earth”. A look back at this experience with its managing director.

It’s a nice publicity stunt organized by Devialet and ArianeGroup in the heart of Paris. The French sound specialist and the European specialist in space launchers walked hand in hand to give as many people as possible the sound experience of an Ariane rocket taking off from French Guiana, in Kourou. A soundproof box made up of eight Phantom speakers, the brand’s star connected speaker, in a mansion in the Marais, a very refined video clip with the group Phoenix as a musical soundtrack and lots of thrills during the few minutes of this simulation . If the starting point is officially “disinterested”, negotiations are brewing behind the scenes between the two groups for a technological partnership. We met Franck Lebouchard, the managing director of Devialet. The opportunity to come back to this project and its possible technical outlets.

DIGITAL – Why do you want to reproduce the sound of an Ariane rocket taking off?

FRANCK LEBOUCHARD – The genesis of this project is a meeting between engineers from ArianeGroup and Devialet. We realize that there are plenty of sound and sound wave topics at ArianeGroup. On our side, we have plenty of topics on materials, membranes. ArianeGroup invites us to Kourou by telling us: “The take-off of a rocket is visually pleasing. On the other hand, you who love sound, you will see what you will see. We find ourselves 6 km from the launch pad, on the Toucan platform, and it’s extraordinary. There is the tension of the event. We see the light flash and a few seconds after the sound, it is a physical shock. Visually it’s nice, but what’s amazing is the sound of the rocket taking off. So the question arises of bringing this to life for people who cannot go to Kourou. We sent our engineers there to record the sound professionally and then we designed this cube with ArianeGroup and eight Phantoms. It’s a very particular sound. There is the vibration of the skeleton and the crackles which are so many explosions. This is exactly how you feel on the platform. In the box, you heard 105 dB, it’s a good rock concert [pour information, un décret appliqué depuis le 1er octobre 2018 limite l’émission sonore des lieux publics (discothèques, boîtes de nuit, salle de concert…) à 102 dB. Pour en savoir plus : Risques auditifs : un nouveau décret entre en scène, NDLR ]. If you’re next to the rocket, you’re at 170 dB and it kills you. It is the loudest sound produced by man. Nature is stronger with the explosions of volcanoes. So the heart of this partnership is still discussions that will one day come to fruition.

What technical lessons from this experience?

There are sound wave topics at ArianeGroup. The sound wave when a rocket takes off is so powerful that it risks damaging the fairing. This is the major element, where the satellite is. It is so powerful that you see on the images of the takeoff of a rocket flowing waterfalls. It is not to cool, but to break the sound wave. And for us Devialet, there are questions about the universal components present in the loudspeakers like the membrane, made up of paper, cardboard, aluminum and full of exotic materials. Me, what I hope one day is that with ArianeGroup’s extraordinary knowledge of materials, we can find something that allows us to continue to revolutionize the world of audio. Our mantra is audio and purity of sound. Where we are proud is that to transcribe the sound of take-off, we went down to just under 20 Hz. Connected speakers capable of playing at 105 dB and at less than 20 Hz, there are none not a lot. It is a demonstration of our know-how.

Why not opt ​​for virtual reality?

Devialet is sound. We asked ourselves whether, in the box, we put a rocket that takes off. Except rockets taking off, you’ve seen plenty of them on TV. This is not the subject. Selfishly, we want you to listen to this sound. The images are very stylized, but that’s not the point for us.

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