Skip to main content

The Lucid Air EV becomes the first car with Dolby Atmos sound

Lucid Air interior with Dolby Atmos sound
Dolby Labs/Lucid Motors

March 2021 is, apparently, a big month for car audio. Audi kicked things off with its announcement that its 2022 Q4 E-Tron will be the first vehicle with a Sonos-tuned sound system, then McIntosh trumpeted its return to car audio with the 2022 Jeep Grand Wagoneer, and now Dolby Labs is taking the wraps off of a partnership with Lucid Motors that will make the Lucid Air the first car to feature a Dolby Atmos sound system.

It’s a 21-speaker, 800-watt, dual-amplifier system that Lucid has dubbed “Surreal Sound.”  It will be standard equipment in every Lucid Air Dream Edition and Grand Touring trim models, and optional equipment for the Touring and Pure trim levels.

Those 21 speakers have been arranged around the interior of the cabin using a similar layout to a home theater, with front, rear, side, and height channels. According to Lucid Motors, it worked with Dolby, to tune the speaker system for the space of the Lucid Air using the Capitol Records Studio C recording studio as the reference design.

The result is a sound system that can reproduce Dolby Atmos sound, using a 12-channel, 7.1.4 Atmos configuration. Most folks will be familiar with Dolby Atmos from commercial or home movie theaters. It’s the surround sound technology that gives movies a 3D quality, allowing sounds to move about the room from any direction, independent of each other. The classic example is hearing a helicopter roar overhead as it moves from in front of the viewer’s seat to behind them.

Dolby Atmos vs. Stereo sound

But in the case of the Lucid Air, it’s Dolby Atmos Music that takes center stage. Music that has been produced using Dolby Atmos Music technology can take advantage of that same immersive, 3D quality, but it tends to uses these effects more subtly, to place listeners in the middle of a performance.

“From reimagined classics to some of today’s biggest chart-topping hits, Dolby Atmos Music has been positively embraced and viewed by the music community as one of the industry’s biggest paradigm shifts within the past 50 years,” said Tim Pryde, Director of Music, Dolby Laboratories, in a press release.

The Lucid Air will be equipped with the ability to stream music from services that support the Dolby Atmos Music format, though we don’t yet know which of these services will be included. The system is also compatible with Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and hi-res audio.

Lucid Motors intends to use the Surreal Sound system for more than just 3D music. It will enable “acoustic signaling” of notifications, indications, warnings, and all other audio emitted to alert the driver and passengers, by having those sounds appear to come from the relevant area of the interior.

Lucid offered several examples: “A seatbelt warning will, to the driver’s ears, come from the direction of the unbuckled belt. Other warnings, such as blind-spot detection, will feature directionality to help focus the driver’s attention. Even sounds as common as turn signals will sound to the driver as if it were coming from the indicated side of the vehicle.”

The Lucid Air, which starts at $77,400 for the Pure Edition, has an EPA-estimated range of 406 miles on a single charge and is available for reservation now.  The Grand Touring Edition, which is the least expensive version to come standard with the Surreal Sound system, starts at $139,000. Lucid Motors expects to start delivering vehicles to customers in the second half of 2021.

Correction: An earlier version of this story said that the Surreal Sound system will support services like Tidal, Deezer, and Amazon Music HD, but these have not been confirmed.

Editors' Recommendations

Simon Cohen
Contributing Editor, A/V
Simon Cohen covers a variety of consumer technologies, but has a special interest in audio and video products, like…
Lucid doubles down on horsepower with the Air Grand Touring Performance
Front three quarter view of the Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance EV.

The Lucid Air already boasts the longest range of any EV currently on sale, but now Lucid is focusing on performance.

Unveiled Tuesday, the Lucid Air Grand Touring Performance will be the sportiest regular-production version of the electric luxury sedan. Its dual-motor all-wheel-drive powertrain produces 1,050 horsepower, which will get the Grand Touring Performance from zero to 60mph in 2.6 seconds, according to Lucid.

Read more
B&W Panorama 3 soundbar: Easy Dolby Atmos for $1,000
Bowers & Wilkins Panorama 3 front touch panel.

British audio company Bowers & Wilkins (B&W) has taken the wraps off the $999 Panorama 3 -- its very first Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar. The all-in-one speaker is available starting March 3 at and select B&W retailers. At that price, the Panorama 3 joins a growing collection of near-$1,000 Dolby Atmos soundbars that includes the $899 Sonos Arc, $899 Bose Smart Soundbar 900, and $1,000 Sony HT-A5000.

B&W might be best known in audiophile circles for its $35,000 per pair floor-standing loudspeakers, but the company also knows a thing or two about building speaker systems for those who want to keep things simple. In fact, that's the whole premise behind the Panorama 3: There's no wireless subwoofer, no HDMI inputs, and no option for rear speakers. Instead, B&W has put everything you need inside one remarkably slender speaker enclosure. There are 13 individual drivers, including three 3/4-inch dome tweeters, six 2-inch cone bass/midranges, two 2-inch cone Atmos (height) drivers, and twin 4-inch subwoofers -- all powered by 400 watts of amplification. The result, B&W says, is "a room-filling and powerful sound no one-box rival can match."

Read more
Polk’s first Dolby Atmos soundbar, the Signa S4, is just $399
Polk Audio Signa S4 Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Polk Audio has an enduring reputation for producing speakers and soundbars that punch well above their weight when you consider how affordable they are. This continues with the company's first Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar, the Signa S4, which comes with its own wireless subwoofer for $399. It's available starting today, December 15, at or other retailers.

At that price, the Signa S4 undercuts many other Dolby Atmos products like the $449 Sonos Beam Gen 2, the $599 LG Eclair, and the $450 Monoprice SB-600. Better yet, the S4 manages to do this while offering a discrete set of up-firing height drivers in the soundbar, which should offer a more realistic 3D sound field than products that rely entirely on virtualized Dolby Atmos, like the Beam Gen 2.

Read more