June 26, 2013

F1 Engine vs F1 Guitar

Renault have had this trick for years now, programming national anthems in their racing engine warmup routines. Quick throttle response showcased there.

For a few year now Spanish guitarist Mario Torrado has been doing the reverse, using a musical instrument to uncannily imitate a Formula 1 engine.  He's studiously scientific about it...

First, I calculated the theoretical pitch of current Formula 1 V8 engines. This way, we have the revolutions limit in 18000 rpm, which is 300 revolutions per second, that is 300 Hz. Given that a four-stroke engine cylinder has one explosion for every two revolutions, we have 150 explosions per second per cylinder.  
Therefore, the eight cylinders of a V8 engine make for a total of 1200 explosions per second, that is a sound of 1200 Hz, which is a musical note slightly above D6. However, the actual sound we hear on TV onboard laps has a predominant frequency of 600 Hz when the engine is on top revolutions, which is a subdivision of the 1200 Hz theoretical sound. That is the main frequency I play on my guitar videos, using appropriately tuned third and fourth strings past 22nd fret to have a 600 Hz sound (≈D5).
Mario's latest video is not very good news for race fans wondering what a 2014 spec 1.6L V6  will sound like though it has to be said, this time he did not quite get the Turbo induction sound component.


  1. This sort of thing is as old as the fuzz box, and the wang bar. Skunk Baxter imitated a Shelby Cobra going down a drapstrip (complete with missed shift) on some surf album in the 60's There are numerous other examples in the literature

  2. As far as pure sound, I like the v10 best, followed by the v8, then v6. I'm sure the v6 will cause a bunch of humbug but I'm really not going to let it bother me. I still get to watch the racing, right?

  3. I was very glad to read this post, thank you very much.
    About the turbo sound, I would definitely need a second guitar (or a flute on my mouth) to play it. Plus, I bet it won´t be audible on TV onboard laps, what´s your opinion?

  4. Hola Mario, welcome to Axis! Great job, we've been looking at your video for quite a while now. I guess for the turbo you'd need a kazoo of some sort? maybe a bass harmonica :)

  5. glad to had information about this comparison. like it.
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