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 made me a believer, too.
First, the new hardware is standard on the Maybach and available on the S-Class. The 4D upgrade from Mercedes’ existing Burmester Premium 3D sound system includes 31 speakers, two transducers in each seat (eight total) that pulse the music through your body, two amplifiers, a massive 18.5-liter subwoofer, and a rocking 1,750 watts of power. With six 3D speakers cascading 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 inside the cabin, twirling around the corners of the car. Finger snaps on “Space Ghost Coast to Coast” by Glass Animals sounded as if they were popping from inside my ear. The opening drum beat of “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons sounded like a bubble bursting, from the inside, and the lyrics haunted the space. It created a conscious and active listening experience that’s impossible to discount.
When the demonstrator said, “We’ll give you a lot of bass now,” on the song “Boom” by Sevenn and Tiesto, I experienced what it must be like inside a club speaker. It made my prized big-box Cerwin Vega speakers that I lugged around from apartment to apartment in my 20s seem as silly as my 20s.
This doesn’t capture its true capability, 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 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, based on the latest Mercedes-Benz survey of 1,750 people in five countries. More than 70% of people who listen to music said that it happens mostly in a car, and sound quality, specifically “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, Dolby explained. It also delivers music to the listener’s ears as intended when the artist cut the track. Instead of shifting sound left or right as in traditional stereo, or even front and rear, 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 create and fans listen to music and it's an experience that is impossible to explain in words; you have to hear it for yourself to appreciate it,” said Oliver Schusser, Apple's vice president of Apple Music and Beats.
The partnership with Apple marks the first time that quality of sound is available in a non-Apple device, and those Mercedes-Benz sedans are in another universe compared to an iPod. Mercedes-Benz owners who already subscribe to Apple Music will have access to the growing portfolio of music available in Spatial Audio with Dolby.
Universal’s contribution to the partnership comes from the musical source. “UMG are enabling their recording artists to base their song approval process on how the final mix sounds in a Mercedes-Benz and introduce the seal 'Approved in a Mercedes-Benz' as a gold standard of sound,” Mercedes said.
The gold standard applies to the price as well. 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 optioned in the EQE, EQE SUV, EQS, and EQS SUV.
Mercedes-Benz paid for airfare and lodging for Motor Authority to partake in the demo.