If you like three-dimensional, incredibly realistic and immersive Dolby Atmos sound or considering buying an electric car, today is a good day.
That’s because Swedish digital audio pioneer Dirac (aka the immersive audio you’ve probably never heard of) and Dolby (who you already know) have just announced a collaboration to provide the ultimate immersive car audio experience.
Why should you care? Both Dirac and Dolby have invested decades in developing technologies that provide the best possible sound experiences in various spaces (as well as some of the best headphones to grace our ears), but so far, both companies have addressed the challenges of car audio from very different directions.
Dirac uses digital signal processing to upgrade sound systems and overcome the acoustic challenges inherent in cars – suboptimal placement of speakers and reflective surfaces that muddy sounds and so on – so the system reproduces audio more faithfully. no unwanted coloring and no hardware upgrades required.
Meanwhile, Dolby Atmos has basically changed the way artists create music. Rather than limiting musicians to two-channel stereo recording, Dolby Atmos allows each sonic item – each instrument or vocal – to be positioned in a three-dimensional space within the recording.
Opinion: Dolby and Dirac will set a new standard in audio – but we hope it rolls out to more vehicles
Combining complementary Dirac and Dolby technologies for the first time in a car will create not only an immersive in-car music listening experience; I truly believe it will set a new standard in car audio.
“The car is a natural place to listen to music, but vehicle cabins are also the most acoustically challenging listening environments,” said Lars Carlsson, head of automotive development at Dirac.
“For 20 years, Dirac has been developing bespoke solutions for some of the world’s leading automobile manufacturers, optimizing sound systems to achieve entirely new levels of audio performance.
Now, through this collaboration with Dolby, we are for the first time combining the world’s most sophisticated audio algorithms with the world’s most immersive content.”
Strong stuff – and Dolby isn’t afraid to give us a quote either.
“Reproducing a faithful Dolby Atmos experience in a car that translates well from the point of creation in the studio to the challenging acoustic environment of a car cabin is a daunting task,” said Andreas Ehret, Automotive Director at Dolby.
“Dirac technology is a great solution for automakers to optimize this experience. We found that in our demo cars, the results were excellent – superb detail, precise stage and a well-balanced sound field in all seating positions. Dolby works hand in hand with the entire automotive supply chain to deliver an authentic in-car entertainment experience.”
So how can we experience it? Will it be featured on upcoming Mercedes, Audi, Bentley, BMW or Aston Martin models? ER no.
The first car to feature this integrated Dolby-Dirac solution will be the Nio ET7, unveiled in January 2021, which will enter the European market in late 2022 – with more to follow soon after.
The car, a state-of-the-art electric sedan with a range of 1,000 km, will feature an immersive 7.1. four overhead speakers and a subwoofer.
The system has four main sound channels, each with a three-way speaker containing a tweeter, a mid-range driver and a woofer.
I emphatically want a car with immersive Dolby Atmos and Dirac audio treatment, and while the Nio ET7 should be available on this side of the lake soon, I hope that soon the fruits of this exciting new relationship will roll out to cars more readily available outside of Europe. China.