As reported in The Verge, Lucid Motors is gearing up for the release of its first electric vehicle, the Lucid Air sedan, and at SXSW, the company revealed a unique detail of the upcoming automobile: it’ll be the first car to offer Dolby Atmos sound, thanks to its 21 speaker “Surreal Sound” system.
In this four minute-plus video detailing the new sound setup, the company highlights its ability to not only merely adjust the placement of sound in the vehicle on a horizontal plane (i.e., shifting between left and right sides of the car or from the front to the back) but also vertically — allowing for music or ambient car signals to be targeted higher or lower inside the car.
In addition to music, Lucid is also using its Atmos setup for indicators and alert sounds — for example, if a passenger in the rear seat isn’t wearing their seatbelt, the seatbelt chime will target that passenger’s corner of the car specifically.
Lucid isn’t the only big car company to be looking at major audio partnerships, either. Audi recently announced that it would be partnering with Sonos on its upcoming Q4 E-Tron, with more details on that partnership set to be revealed in April.
Along with being the world’s first car to offer Dolby Atmos integration, it features state-of-the-art DSP architecture and 21 front, rear, side, and overhead speakers precisely positioned for powerful, nuanced, sound.
According to Senior VP of Design, Derek Jenkins, “The Lucid immersive system is really about this further evolution of dimension and depth. It’s not only about front to rear or left to right. It’s also up and down. That’s what makes it truly unique.”
Jamming with Dolby
In creating the Surreal Sound system and experience, we collaborated closely with Dolby Labs to utilize their Atmos technology. “It was very obvious to us that Lucid was trying to do something different and trying to do something that was unique to the automotive experience.” said Tim Pryde, Director of Music at Dolby. “The way that Lucid has approached the automobile very much resonates with Dolby’s approach to experiences. We are creators creating things for other creators. With Atmos we’re giving creatives a whole new way of thinking about audio to where they now just think about audio in space.”
Entertainment and beyond
The crystal-clear, studio-quality immersive sound makes for an elevated listening experience. But Surreal Sound pushes innovation in other ways too. “We designed the Lucid Immersive Studio System to be like a recording studio. It can handle hundreds of sounds and sources simultaneously,” says Antonis Karalis, Senior Product Manager, Audio Infotainment. As Derek explains it, “The other side of it goes beyond the music and more into the sounds that the car makes. So all of the signals, warnings, indicators, and how the car communicates back to you. We’re able to control those sounds and design to be immersive. For example, if someone in the rear seat is not wearing the seatbelt, the seatbelt chime comes on, but it comes from that back corner. Or when we start up the car – it doesn’t just come to life in front of you. It comes to life all around you.”