Table of Contents
Pushing back the boundaries of commercial vehicle customisation by turning a Master into a “sound truck”, a fully functional professional recording studio on wheels — that was the challenge facing Renault and its partners as part of the Give Me 5 CSR initiative designed to provide a mobile rap springboard for young people and make music production accessible to as many people as possible.
Time to join the main project stakeholders for a look back at the steps they took and the challenges they faced in creating this bespoke vehicle.
There’s a profession for every passion, and a special-purpose commercial vehicle for every profession. Musical creation is no exception, as proven by the “sound truck” created as part of the Give Me 5 programme. In spring 2023, a mobile springboard initiative gave five talented finalists the opportunity to record in professional conditions — in a mobile recording studio.
When developing a Master‑based vehicle for this purpose, Renault worked with 2 partners, one specialised in architectural acoustics and the other in bodywork — Red House and PROCAR. This highly challenging, unique conversion initiative resulted in the Master “sound truck”, hailed as a new symbol of Renault’s innovation and expertise in the field of commercial vehicle customisation.
Renault’s commercial vehicles, design and marketing teams decided to pool their talents to help other people showcase theirs. Before they could turn a “basic” Renault Master into a fully functional mobile recording studio, they needed to have a clear understanding of the project needs and requirements.
«We had lots of requirements relating to the construction of the vehicle as it would be touring around the country. It needed to house a professional recording studio, weigh less than 3,5 tonnes so it could be driven with a standard category B licence, be built using eco-responsible materials and, above all else, align with the brand’s DNA», says Annejela Royoux, Image & Sponsoring Partnerships Manager within Renault’s Marketing Department.
These requirements were challenging on every front. Technically, they involved ensuring optimal soundproofing while complying with the vehicle’s weight and size constraints. To meet this objective, Renault drew not only on its experience in adapting commercial vehicles according to specific needs, but also the expertise of specialised partners — architectural acoustics expert Red House for the acoustic design of the recording studio and PROCAR for the vehicle’s bodywork.
The first challenge lay in striking the right balance between the sound truck’s weight and its acoustic performance, as PROCAR head converter Olivier Guerry explains: «Good acoustics can be achieved by ensuring materials move as little as possible.
«Doing so adds weight. However, we were dealing with a commercial vehicle that needed to be driven with a B category licence and therefore weigh no more than 3.5 tonnes, so we had to control its weight».
Emphasising that each stage of the conversion process included weight checks, Lucas Medus, Founder and Artistic Director of Red House, says: «Weight was monitored throughout the project, including during the soundproofing and sound treatment processes and for the finishing touches and furniture. We planned everything right down to the last screw to avoid adding three grams too many».
The weight constraint, inherent to this major project, meant the teams had to constantly conduct tests, do calculations and juggle with the selection of materials that were going to form and equip the sound truck.
«Everything that was going into the van was weighed and given a great deal of thought to ensure compliance with the weight constraint», says Julien Ravary, Associate Acoustician and Studio Designer at Red House, before mentioning the eco-responsible nature of this carefully crafted vehicle.
«We selected the materials based on their rigidity and weight and worked out how we could adapt them to our needs. We chose eco-friendly insulators to avoid using rock wool or glass wool. The rest is mainly composed of wood».
The team was resourceful in finding the right materials and creating a clever layout.
«Good acoustics can be achieved by ensuring materials move as little as possible. Doing so adds weight. However, we were dealing with a commercial vehicle, so we had to control its weight», said Olivier Guerry, PROCAR head converter.
«Everything that was going into the van was weighed. We selected the materials based on their rigidity and weight, and we planned everything right down to the last screw to avoid adding three grams too many», said Lucas Médus, Founder and Artistic Director of Red House.
Additionally, the limited space available was a major project challenge.
The brief was to create a fully functional professional recording studio in the 9 m3 of cargo space on offer in a Master (that is 3.733 mm long, 1.765 mm wide and 2.048 mm high) while ensuring it featured 2 distinct spaces (in addition to the driver’s cab) so that the singer would not be in the control room.
«My role involved making a recording studio fit into a van — an enclosed and limited space that doesn’t offer the same freedom as other spaces», continues Lucas.
His colleague Julien adds: «Each space is less than 5 m3, which is tiny. We’d never worked on such small spaces before. A great deal of adaptation and technical expertise was required to integrate everything we wanted, given the vehicle’s constraints».
Speaking about the layout of this restricted space, he says: «To isolate the vocals from other sounds, the van is split into two sections — on one side there’s a control room, where the sound engineer and the computer are, and on the other there’s a vocal booster, which helps isolate the vocal performance».
«A great deal of adaptation and technical expertise was required to integrate everything we wanted, given the vehicle’s constraints», said Julien Ravary, Associate Acoustician and Studio Designer at Red House.
All these technical challenges required expertise in multiple areas, as Olivier points out: «On our side, 20 people were involved in bringing this comprehensive project to fruition. We gave work to metalworkers, converters, painters, visual artists, interior designers, finishers and electricians», who completed everything in record time.
«A conversion project like this usually takes 6 to 12 months. Our teams were given less than 6 months to do what they had to do».
The ergonomic proposals fully met the brief given by Give Me 5 sponsor Youssoupha, a major figure in the rap world, and his musical team, who wanted a space that would be practical, simple and available for use quickly.
The sense of volume and space optimisation are accented by unique design elements: dark body colours, including a deep blue that stimulates imagination, and a subtle mix of soothing pale wood and warm dark fabric.
All these technical challenges were turned into excellent creative opportunities thanks to a seamless and harmonious collaboration between Renault, PROCAR and Red House teams. Choosing the right partners was vital to the success of the project when it required great flexibility.
The resourcefulness demonstrated in all creative processes was key to ensuring the vehicle was fully ready in record time. The project was a resounding success, as recognised by the young people who got to record in the sound truck, as well as Youssoupha, whose first reaction when he saw it was: «I think Renault’s got a magic touch!».