Apple Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos arrives in Mercedes-Benz cars

Apple spatial audio in Mercedes-Benz cars
(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz / Apple Music)

Is your car the best place to listen to Dolby Atmos music? Mercedes-Benz, Apple, and Universal Music certainly think so. Apple Music's Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos is coming to cars for the first time, thanks to a tie-in with Mercedes-Benz. 

The partnership was announced at the official launch of the Mercedes EQE SUV, the multi-purpose variant of the EQE executive saloon, and the first all-electric SUV from Mercedes. The German automotive brand will bring Apple Spatial Audio to its most premium vehicles, including the new Mercedes EQE SUV and AMG EQE SUV, plus the EQE, EQS SUV, EQS, SL, S-Class and S-Class Maybach. Apple Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos uses the existing MBUX infotainment system and integrated Burmester 3D and 4D sound systems. 

What's more, the world’s largest music label, Universal Music Group, is enabling its artists to achieve an “approved in a Mercedes-Benz” standard, when they finalize their audio quality in a Mercedes-Benz. So you really would be hearing what the artist intended when you're cruising to the shops.

Mercedes-Benz EQE AMG SUV

(Image credit: Future)

Close-up of Apple Music spatial audio in Mercedes-Benz car

(Image credit: Mercedes-Benz / Apple Music)

The tech involved is pretty special. The latest Burmester high-end 4D sound system features 31 speakers, including six 3D speakers that emit sound from above, 4 near-ear speakers in the front seats, 8 transducers spread throughout the seats, an 18.5-litre subwoofer, and two amplifiers. A total of 1750 watts of power will deliver what Mercedes says will be "studio-quality sound better than in any concert hall". 

And, beyond the hyperbole, it all makes a lot of sense. More than 70% of consumers say they listen to music in the car more often than anywhere else, and when it comes to immersive spatial audio, a sealed box that allows for speakers all around you, and with a set seating position, makes a whole lot of sense.

Will we see Apple's unique head-tracking enhancement become part of the in-car spatial audio experience? We will have to wait and see. It's a real game-changer when using AirPods Max and an iPad, and we'd love to hear what it can do on this much bigger stage. 

Mercedes cars are the first non-Apple devices to natively features Apple's Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, while the company was the second car manufacturer to incorporate Dolby Atmos, after the Lucid Air electric vehicle stole a march on the competition last year.

We've seen a number of manufacturers announce plans to offer immersive in-car audio experiences over the last few years. We had a demo of Devialet's vision for in-car audio back in 2019, while Sennheiser has also showed us its Ambeo Mobility sound system. We saw Klipsch and Panasonic team up to support in-car Dolby Atmos music last year, and Dolby has itself joined forces with Cinemo to push in-car adoption of Dolby Music.

But now it's the turn of Apple Spatial Audio to take centre stage when it comes to high-end in-car audio systems. And if you've got a supported Mercedes-Benz, and an Apple Music subscription, you can listen right now. Try our playlist of the best spatial audio tracks on Apple Music for starters...

Joe Cox
Content Director

Joe is Content Director for Specialist Tech at Future and was previously the Global Editor-in-Chief of What Hi-Fi?. He has worked on What Hi-Fi? across print and online for more than 15 years, writing news, reviews and features. He has covered product launch events across the world, from Apple to Technics, Sony and Samsung, reported from CES, the Bristol Show and Munich High End for many years, and provided comment for sites such as the BBC and the Guardian. In his spare time he enjoys playing records and cycling (not at the same time).