Apple is bringing Spatial Audio to cars, starting with Mercedes-Benz

Apple is bringing its immersive surround-sound audio product to vehicles through a partnership with Mercedes-Benz and Universal Music Group, the latest example of the tech company’s push into automotive.

For the first time, Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos from Apple Music will be natively integrated into the car, starting with the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the Mercedes-Benz S-Class, as well as its growing electric portfolio the EQE sedan, EQE SUV, EQS sedan and EQS SUV.

Spatial Audio, which adds space, clarity and depth to music, debuted in spring 2021. It was initially enabled by default on Apple hardware supported by Dolby Atmos, devices that include the iPhone, iPad, Mac models, AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip. Spatial Audio on Apple Music later expanded to Android devices.

Now, Mercedes-Benz owners can access what Apple calls the “gold standard of sound” — for a price.  Owners will need two items: a $9.99 monthly subscription to Apple Music and a Mercedes vehicle equipped with either the Burmester high-end 4D and the 3D sound system. That’s where it gets really pricey.

The Burmester 3D system costs $4,550. The higher-end Burmester 4D sound system, which is priced at $6,730, has 31 speakers, including six 3D speakers that emit their sound from above; 4 near-ear speakers in the front seats; an 18.5-liter subwoofer; 8 sound transducers (two per seat); and 2 amplifiers.

“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, vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said in a statement.

As part of the agreement, Universal Music Group will let recording artists base their song approval process on how the final mix sounds in a Mercedes-Benz and is introducing a seal “Approved in a Mercedes-Benz” as “a gold standard of sound,” the companies said.

The collaboration, which was announced Sunday at the Paris Motor Show, is yet another signal of Apple’s car ambitions. Earlier this year, Apple said its next-generation CarPlay system will power the vehicle’s entire instrument cluster, putting it, once again, directly in competition with Google’s in-vehicle operation system Android Automotive OS.