Different Engines Sound Different Because they Are, But it’s More Interesting than That

The sound of an engine is another piece in the rich tapestry of what makes cars so interesting. But why does a V8 sound like syncopated thunder when an inline-four sounds like a freshly opened can of farts?

The answer? Because they’re different. Now that may sound like a cop-out but it isn’t because we can measure the differences. Donut Media tells you how.

The biggest factor determining the sound of your engine is the number of cylinders firing at any given moment. That’s because, as a rule, more cylinders in an engine means more cylinders firing per revolution means more hertz means higher pitch. That’s why a V10 sounds like a mournful shriek, especially when those engines are allowed to rev higher.

Naturally, there are other factors at play. Exhaust tuning, dampening, and even just the harmonics of the car itself can have an impact on the sound of a car, but the biggest factor remains the root note.

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