Dolby, the company that pioneered noise reduction in professional, home and later cinema recordings, is swiftly moving into the automotive space in India. Visible today just about everywhere – from the recently launched Apple iPhone 15 and high-end televisions sets to high-quality music streaming services – Dolby’s journey into the automobile space started with Lucid in 2021, and later carried on with Maybach, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo, Polestar and Lotus. Closer home, Mahindra is slated to be the first Indian carmarker to offer Dolby’s services on its new range of electric cars.
In car audio with Dolby: what to expect
Cars equipped with the Dolby will, of course, deliver clearer sound. What you can also expect is that Dolby Atmos will also allow you to experience both separation and placement of individual instruments or voices. So, for example, you will hear an instrument being played on the left, another to the right, with the vocalist in the centre. This will be in accordance with where the instruments are placed during the mix or remaster of that piece of music.
This lifelike sound will make its debut on Mahindra’s new BE range of EVs. Mahindra will use 360-degree surround sound hardware from Harman (you can use various hardware) and more upscale versions could feature speakers on the roof as well as lower down in the cabin for a real immersive experience. The Harman and Dolby collaboration, apart from three-dimensional sound, could in future also deliver navigation prompts, reverse camera warning ‘bongs’, and directional audio warning for the autonomous driving aids, and more.
In car audio with Dolby: what’s the future?
Where cars have an advantage over other listening environments, like your living room, is that in a car, the listener (and their ears) remains located in a fixed place relative to the speakers. And this allows for easier tuning of the sound, according to Dolby engineers. This should eventually lead to greater tunability and accuracy when it comes to creating a three-dimensional sound scape. Dolby also says Atmos Music has been designed to be scalable from the start. So, just like horizontally aligned soundbars and conventional speakers can be made to playback 3D-like sound, even cars with a more basic setup could be used for Dolby Atmos Music.
“The better the hardware, the better it gets, but it will work well even on mid-level cars.” says Andreas Ehret, director, Automotive Dolby. “The music, however, needs to be re-mixed for Dolby Atmos, we are not upscaling [mixing] from stereo.” With streaming services dominating the music experience today, you can expect a lot of the popular music to be re-mixed for Dolby Atmos, especially as competitive streaming services want to deliver the best sonic experience to subscribers.
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