Lucid’s upcoming electric car will be the first to feature Dolby Atmos

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 a 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.

“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, Dolby’s director of music.

And as odd as the idea of automotive Atmos sounds, a car is actually a pretty good environment for an Atmos setup, given the controlled, encapsulated space that’s relatively easy to ensure has full speaker coverage for Dolby’s spatial sound system. While its not always easy to mount speakers in your ceiling (or to get up-firing rear surrounds) setup in your living room, a car — especially one with 21 speakers — that’s been designed to integrate the system from the start is a natural fit.

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.

Katherine E. Ackerman

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