Sound systems have become a major automotive battleground. On the high end, Jeep landed a partnership with McIntosh for Wagoneer and Grand Cherokee SUVs. And even budget compact cars these days offer branded head units. Mercedes just announced it's taking things up another notch by providing Apple Music's Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. The Mercedes vehicles will be the first non-Apple devices to do so.
What is Apple's Spatial Audio?
Spatial Audio is a more immersive, theatre-like sound experience that factors in the listener's head and can allow sound to feel like it is coming from a particular direction. Apple Music lets you listen to specific tracks in Spatial Audio. Previously, you needed Apple devices like Beats headphones or AirPods to use it. But some Mercedes cars will now be able to play it natively from the vehicle.
Which Mercedes vehicles will get Spatial Audio?
Spatial Audio will roll out on the standard and Maybach versions of the new S-Class. Electric cars such as the EQE, the just announced EQE SUV, EQS and EQS SUV will also get access to it. Owners must upgrade the vehicle to the optional Burmester 4D or 3D sound systems. The technology will filter out to other Mercedes cars at a later date.
Will there be an additional charge from Mercedes for Spatial Audio?
Mercedes doesn't appear to have plans to take a cue from BMW and launch Spatial Audio functionality as a weird automotive subscription service. But the upgraded Burmester 4D sound system does not come cheap. It's a $6,730 option on the S-Class. And Mercedes owners will also need an Apple Music subscription. That probably won't be much of a hardship if you're leveling up to the premium audio system on a $100,000-plus Mercedes.