• The first non-Apple products to be able to play Apple Music with Spatial Audio will be select Mercedes-Benz models with the brand’s MBUX infotainment system.
  • Spatial Audio creates the illusion that the sound is coming from a specific space, and it needs Apple Music songs remixed in this way to function.
  • Sennheiser and Bang & Olufsen have unveiled their versions of 3D car audio systems, opening a new front in the ongoing audio wars.

When it comes to integrating a car’s infotainment system, Apple dives even deeper. Mercedes-Benz announced today that surround sound with Dolby Atmos is available for the first time in some of its vehicles. Until now, Apple’s version of spatial audio required Apple hardware, but the automaker’s cars are the first-ever non-Apple devices to feature Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos via the MBUX infotainment system.

The first Mercedes cars to play Apple Spatial Audio are the EQS, EQS SUV, EQE, EQE SUV, S-Class and Mercedes-Maybach S-Class. Board member Markus Schaefer said the audio system is now “perfect [integrates] hardware and software’.

Apple offers Spatial Audio with dynamic head-tracking for its AirPods and Beats headphone lines, making the music you play sound like it’s coming from specific locations around the listener. Mercedes claims that Apple Spatial Audio delivers “studio-quality sound better than any concert hall” when listening in the car. To listen to Apple Music with spatial audio in a compatible car, you will need not only a subscription to this service, but also a personal Mercedes Me ID. Apple Music offers curated playlists that highlight songs from many genres that take advantage of 3D listening, including one called Driving in Spatial Audio.
Mercedes-Maybach designed by Virgil Abloh

Mercedes already offered multi-dimensional sound systems in their cars. The most extreme in recent memory is the Burmester high-end 1750W limited edition sound system. The car came with 31 speakers, including six 3D speakers in the ceiling and four speakers in each of the front seats. Mercedes said that this advanced sound technology will soon appear on other models.

Sennheiser introduced a 3D car audio system in 2019 in partnership with Karma Automotive. AMBEO’s immersive sound solution also uses the car’s headrests as speakers and can direct sound anywhere in the cabin with a specially designed multi-channel loudspeaker and subwoofer. The system was first installed in the 2020 Karma Revero GT. Audi has partnered with Bang & Olufsen to create an advanced 3D sound system that uses up to 23 speakers and delivers up to 1,920 watts of power.

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