Sometimes hearing is believing. Based on a new partnership with Apple Music and Universal Music Group announced last week, Mercedes believes it has the best sound experience of any car on the market.
A resounding demo of the brand’s new Burmester 4D sound system in a 2022 Mercedes-Benz Maybach S-Class has also convinced me.
First, the new hardware is standard on the Maybach and available on the S-Class. The 4D upgrade of Mercedes’ existing Burmester Premium 3D sound system includes 31 speakers, two transducers in each seat (eight in total) that pulse the music through your body, two amplifiers, a massive 18.5 liter subwoofer and an impressive power of 1,750 watts. With six 3D speakers emitting sound from above and two speakers near the headrests of each front seat, the system creates a “concert hall at your fingertips,” according to Mercedes.
In the demo, piano notes danced in the cabin, swirling around the corners of the car. Finger clicks on Glass Animals’ “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” sounded like they were coming out of my ear. The opening drumbeat of Imagine Dragons’ “Enemy” sounded like a bubble bursting from within, and the lyrics haunted the room. It created a conscious and active listening experience that is not to be underestimated.
When the protester said “We’re going to give you a lot of bass now”, on the song “Boom” by Sevenn and Tiesto, I experienced what it must be like in a club loudspeaker. It made my prized big-box Cerwin Vega speakers that I dragged from apartment to apartment in my 20s as dumb as my 20s.
This doesn’t represent its true capacity, but a demo of “Boom” in Mercedes’ new Burmester 4D sound with Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos suspends the listener in sound waves. It’s the next level. pic.twitter.com/spBR4Re64e
— Robert Duffer (@DufferRobert) October 24, 2022
This immersive music experience sets “a new bar for how music should be heard in the car,” said Kevin Yeaman, President and CEO of Dolby Laboratories.
The car has become the mobile Walkman or Boombox of a bygone era, according to the latest Mercedes-Benz survey of 1,750 people in five countries. More than 70% of people who listen to music said it usually happens in a car, and that sound quality, especially ‘realistic spatial sound’, is important to more than 76% of respondents.
This realistic spatial sound is created by integrating Apple’s Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos, which uses a three-dimensional sound field to add more space, clarity and depth to music, explains Dolby. It also delivers music to the listener’s ears as intended when the artist cuts the song. Rather than shifting the sound left or right as in traditional stereo, or even front and back, Atmos gives artists an infinite range of moving sound around the listener. Based on the demo, Spatial Audio with Atmos also moves sound through the listener.
“Spatial Audio is revolutionizing the way artists make music and fans listen to music, and it’s an experience impossible to explain in words; you have to hear it for yourself to appreciate it,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president. president of Apple Music and Beats.
The partnership with Apple marks the first time sound quality is available in a non-Apple device, and those Mercedes-Benz sedans are in a different universe from an iPod. Mercedes-Benz owners who already have an Apple Music subscription will have access to the growing music portfolio available in Spatial Audio with Dolby.
Universal’s contribution to the partnership comes from the musical source. “UMG allows their recording artists to base their song approval process on how the final mix sounds in a Mercedes-Benz and introduce the ‘Approved in a Mercedes-Benz’ seal as a gold standard for sound,” said Mercedes.
The gold standard also applies to the price. The Burmester 4D sound system package costs $6,730 in the 2022 Mercedes-Benz S580. The lesser version of Dolby Atmos with the Burmester 3D sound system can be selected in the EQE, EQE SUV, EQS and EQS SUV.
Mercedes-Benz paid for the plane tickets and lodging for Motor Authority to participate in the demo.