At CES this week, I heard Dolby Atmos music played in a car, and I fell in love with the experience so much that I sound like a lunatic trying to explain it to others. The music felt like it was floating in the space around me — I couldn’t tell where the speakers were located; it created a surreal sound. When listening to Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, it was like Freddie Mercury was just floating in front of me.
During the show in Las Vegas, Dolby invited us to check out the audio in a Mercedes-Benz Maybach, one of the first vehicles to be designed to support this immersive audio experience. I saw a lot of wild products as I ran around the convention in Las Vegas, but out of everything I saw, this was the one piece of tech I want in my life right away.
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Think of Dolby Atmos as something that blends sound in different directions, playing in space, rather than just left- or right-side speakers. It makes music immersive, so maybe some instruments feel like they are located in different places around you.
Many folks may have heard Dolby Atmos-quality sound in a movie theater, but putting in a car is the next avenue for this sound system. The experience can only be found in a few luxury vehicles for now, including the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and Lucid Motors’ electric vehicle, the Lucid Air. Volvo is also set to release cars with Atmos technology.
I feel very spoiled having my first experience in the $185,000 Maybach — its sound system has 30 speakers, six of which are in the ceiling. But will this come to my Toyota 4Runner?
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It’s possible, says Dolby. The team is working on testing this to work on cars with fewer speakers, like a typical six-speaker setup. And you could potentially update an existing car so its software supports the surround-sound effects.
Demoing Dolby Atmos in a car was unlike any audio I’ve experienced, so I can only hope it comes to more cars soon. Until then, I’ll have to just keep telling people about how I experienced a floating Freddie Mercury inside the Maybach. I’m sure they’ll understand.