Mercedes-Benz announced today that it’s bringing support for Apple’s Music’s spatial audio to certain vehicles. Apple Music launched spatial audio with Dolby Atmos last year on a range of devices, including the iPhone, Mac, HomePod, and Apple TV, but this is the first time it’ll be available natively in a car.
As you might have guessed, the integration doesn’t come cheap. Mercedes-Benz started adding Dolby Atmos to its top-of-the-line Maybach, S-Class, as well as electric EQS and EQE models that come with the automaker’s latest MBUX interface and the 31-speaker Burmester 3D or 4D sound system. While the vehicles themselves cost upwards of $100,000, this doesn’t even include the additional $4,550 (3D) or $6,730 (4D) Burmester sound system that some vehicles have as an add-on.
Apple Music’s Dolby Atmos-powered spatial audio is supposed to enhance music and make it more immersive by spreading out different sounds across audio channels, essentially creating a virtual 3D audio space from your speakers, earbuds, or headphones. Apple Music labels the songs on the platform that support the format, but as my colleague Chris Welch points out, the quality of the mix isn’t always consistent across songs.
Adding Apple Music’s spatial audio should make it easier for Benz drivers to find songs that support the Dolby Atmos format. And if you’re not an Apple Music subscriber, Mercedes-Benz is also partnering with Universal Music Group (UMG) to label certain songs as “Approved in a Mercedes-Benz,” although it’s unclear where these labels will appear. The automaker says artists will only be granted the “highest quality seal” based on how “the final mix sounds in a Mercedes-Benz.” (And yes, Mercedes-Benz is even giving UMG some vehicles for testing.)
“Sound quality is incredibly important to Apple Music which is why we are so excited to be working with Mercedes to make Spatial Audio on Apple Music available natively in the car for the first time,” Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats said in a statement. “Together with Mercedes, we now have even more opportunities to bring wholly immersive music to our subscribers all over the world.”