Not often does Apple offer its name to products or technologies that emerge from beyond the walls of Fortress Cupertino. Could a partnership with Mercedes-Benz signal the start of something new?
Mercedes’ new audio system unveiled this past weekend centers on the integration of Apple Music’s Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos surround — a music enhancement generally heard in headphone-listening environments — in selected (and optional) Burmester audio systems. Plans are to offer the components initially in the Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, the S-Class as well as the EQE, EQE SUV, EQS and EQS SUV. No prices for the options were announced.
Also partnering in the project is the Universal Music Group, one of the world’s leading music publishers.
According to Mercedes, the Dolby tech “empowers musicians and audio engineers to place discrete audio elements or objects in a three-dimensional sound field, which goes beyond the capabilities of standard stereo productions. The system adapts to any playback environment, meaning fans can listen to music with unparalleled clarity that matches the artist’s original vision in the studio.”
We would expect no less from 31 speakers in a Maybach, powered by a pair of amps churning out 1,750 watts. Imagine Keith Richards cranking guitar through 31 speakers in an enclosed car cockpit.
Almost three out of four music consumers say that they listen mostly in a car, says Mercedes Chairman Ola Källenius. “Through this exceptional partnership, we are giving our customers the extraordinary in-car audio experience they expect from Mercedes-Benz,” he said. “Both Apple and UMG share our vision and values and, together with Dolby, we will create a seamless and unique experience for our customers.”
Partnerships between auto makers and audio companies have become common in recent years. Bose put its systems into General Motors cars decades ago, and others followed, including Bowers & Wilkins, JBL and even the legendary McIntosh. Most recently, famous Italian speaker designer Sonon faber found a home in Maserati’s new Grecale, and British speaker maker KEF is working with Lotus.