You might have come across the phrase “spatial audio” if you have shopped for headphones or other audio technology. What does it mean? Spatial Audio is about immersion; it gives you the sense that you’re on stage, right next to the vocalist or the drummer’s left or standing to the guitarist’s right. This immersive technology is transforming how we listen to music, watch movies, and more.
Apple announced in June 2020 during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC) keynote briefing that incredibly caught people’s curiosity and seemed like it may be a game-changer. This announcement concerned Spatial Audio. After nearly two years, the 3D audio technology has finally begun to make significant headway in the Apple ecosystem.
Apple’s version of Dolby Atmos for headphones and Sony’s PS5 3D Audio is called Spatial Audio. The AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and Beats Fit Pro Apple has designed to send surround sound and 3D music to headphones in the most efficient way possible.
The function was first made available for movies and television series as a component of iOS 14 in September 2020, and it was afterward made available on Apple Music on June 7th. Spatial Audio has been available since the summer of 2017 for usage on tvOS in conjunction with the new Apple TV 4K and the most current M1 processor from the company. Macs powered by the M1 processor may now utilize it as well.
Let us walk you through every aspect of Apple’s Spatial Audio, how to use this technology, how to turn it on and off, and some troubleshooting. So, let’s begin this immersive sound journey.
What Is Spatial Audio?
While stereo playback (left and right channels) is still the most common way to experience immersive sound in games, movies, and music, Spatial Audio is an entirely different ballgame. The phrase “spatial audio” denotes a broader range of audio techniques that try to make the sound seem as if it is coming at you from all directions. Simply put, spatial audio is hi-res audio by Apple.
You hear two dimensions in a standard surround sound audio (left-right, front-back). The sound may be delivered horizontally, yet can seem to be coming from above thanks to spatial Audio’s different forms.
Immersive Audio is a common feature in movies and video games, allowing you to hear noises like a jet engine over your head much as you would in real life.
It’s a more ‘spacious’ listening experience when you use Spatial Audio for music playing. You may hear instruments coming from all around you in a virtual world, depending on your chosen format, giving you an experience more like attending a real concert.
There’s a lot to cover, and some of it is a little complex, but we’ll lay it all down for you in simple terms. In minutes, you’ll be a spatial audio expert and gain the know-how to take advantage of this emerging movie and music streaming trend.
How Does Spatial Audio Work?
Let us imagine a scenario where you are streaming a movie on your iPhone, and a person in the movie is making a lot of noise as he strolls down the left side of the screen. If the movie supports spatial Audio, you could move your head to the left, and the footsteps would sound as if they were coming from directly in front of you. Amazing.
With the assistance of Apple’s new Spatial Audio function, you will be able to listen to three-dimensional Audio from films that are compatible with your iPhone or iPad, and the Audio will follow the device’s motion.
It does an excellent job of recreating a cinematic experience. And it gives the impression that noises are coming from all directions around you. You get to feel the sound coming in front of you, behind you, to the side, or even over your head, giving an immersive sound experience. Spatial Audio takes the 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos mixes from a suitable movie or video, adds directional audio filters, and modulates the frequencies conveyed to each ear to accomplish this goal.
However, tracking is where Apple Spatial Audio is different from other related technologies, such as Dolby Atmos headphones. The AirPods Max, AirPods Pro, and AirPods (3rd generation) all include accelerometers and gyroscopes to sense your head movement and arrange the music accordingly. Additionally, it monitors your iPhone or iPad, which means that the audio you hear is also appropriate for the screen you are now seeing.
Consequently, if you swivel your head or move your device while viewing a films or videos that support Spatial Audio and switch it on, the speech you hear will stay in sync with the actor or the action shown on the screen.
Does Spatial Audio Actually Make a Difference?
When used correctly, Spatial Audio may offer music a distinct sense of range. And it does it in a way that is distinct from how a high-quality set of headphones would extract the most from a stereo recording.
Particularly, vocals often have a distinct location in the mix, allowing them to cut through the music more effectively than they would on regular stereo files. That has been the benefit of using Spatial Audio for music that stands out the most. However, due to the unique mixing in Spatial Audio, you are highly likely to become aware of particulars or noises that are more difficult to pick out while listening to the standard version of a song.
How to Use Spatial Audio?
If you want to utilize Apple Spatial Audio, you need to have an iPhone, iPad Air or iPad that is compatible with it.
Spatial audio is compatible with the iPhone 7 and later models, as well as devices of the following generations:
- The iPad Pro (3rd generation)
- The iPad Air (3rd generation)
- The iPad (6th generation)
- The iPad Mini (5th generation) (6th generation)
In addition, you will need to have iOS 14 or a later version installed on your device, and you will need to run an application that offers audiovisual material compatible with Apple Spatial Audio.
The following is the procedure to follow to utilize Spatial Audio with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max:
- Link your iPhone or iPad to your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.
- Launch the Settings menu, then choose Bluetooth.
- Tap the information button after you have located your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max (lower case I in a circle).
- Check the toggle for the Spatial Audio setting; if you haven’t turned it on, press it to turn it on.
- Launch Apple Music and choose the search icon from the menu that appears.
- Select the field for searching, and then enter “Spatial Audio.”
- Select the Made for Spatial Audio playlist from the drop-down menu.
- Choose the Play button to begin experiencing your very first piece of Spatial Audio.
- Launch the Control Center to determine whether or not the Spatial Audio feature is currently enabled.
- To adjust the volume, press and hold the control.
- If the Spatial Audio icon set to On isn’t visible, you should tap it to turn it on.
Do AirPods Pro Have Spatial Audio?
Yes, AirPods Pro has spatial Audio. Here’s how you can use the feature:
- Check to verify that you have correctly linked your AirPods or AirPods Max to the iOS device.
- Open up the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad to get started.
- Find your AirPods Pro or AirPods Max in the following list.
- Tap the information button I that’s located next to your AirPods.
- Put the switch next to Spatial Audio in the ON position, so it glows green.
Do Beats Studio Buds Have Spatial Audio?
Spatial Audio is supported by Beats Studio Buds so that you can enjoy immersive music, movies, and games. You may now enjoy a handpicked library of tracks in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos if you have an Apple Music membership.
You will need to follow these steps if you want to turn on Spatial Audio on your Beats Studio Buds:
- Install the most recent iOS or iPadOS on your iPhone or iPad.
- Select Settings.
- Select music.
- Tap Dolby Atmos within Audio.
- Select Auto, Always-On, or Off.
If you choose automatic, the songs Dolby Atmos support will play in spatial Audio in Beats Studio Buds, and you will get an immersive sound experience.
How to Turn Spatial Audio On?
Here are the steps to enable Spatial Audio on a variety of different Apple devices and also on Android ones:
iPhone and iPad
- When using your AirPods Pro, AirPod Max, AirPods (3rd generation), or Beats Fit Pro headphones while listening to music on your iPhone or iPad, check to verify whether you’ve connected them to your device.
- Launch the Control Center application on either your iPhone or your iPad.
- You may switch on Spatial Audio by pressing and holding the volume control when playing multichannel material or Spatialize Stereo while playing two-channel stereo content. It will also display the status symbols for you.
- When spatial Audio with head tracking is on, the Audio will modify itself in response to the movement of your head. Activate dynamic head tracking and spatial Audio by selecting the Head Tracked option. Tap the Fixed button to enable just the spatial Audio. Press the Off button to turn off spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking.
- Ensure that you have connected your AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, AirPods (3rd generation), or Beats Fit Pro to your Mac and that you are wearing them.
- If you are playing multichannel material, clicking the AirPods or Beats symbol in the menu will show you the Spatial Audio option. If you are playing two-channel stereo content, clicking the Spatialize Stereo option will show you the option.
- Simply selecting the Head Tracked checkbox will activate spatial Audio and dynamic head tracking. Click the Fixed button to enable just the spatial Audio.
- Navigate to the Settings menu, choose Remotes and Devices, then Bluetooth. Alternatively, tap and hold the Home button on your Siri Remote when playing audiovisual material in a compatible app.
- Select either your AirPods or your Beats headphones from the list.
- If you are playing material with many channels, choose the Spatial Audio option. If you are playing content with only two channels, use the Spatialize Stereo option. It will also display the status icons for you.
- A Dolby Atmos-compatible Android smartphone is required. Please verify with the maker of your Android smartphone to see whether it is supported.
- Download and install the most recent version of the Apple Music app.
How to turn Dolby Atmos music on or off.
- Open the Apple Music app on your device.
- Press the More button to access the More menu.
- Take a look at the options.
- To activate or deactivate Dolby Atmos, press the Dolby Atmos icon.
Does Spotify Have Spatial Audio?
With the release of iOS 15, Apple extended the spatial audio capabilities of every app on the iPhone. As a result, you can now spatialize the Audio of any app directly from the Control Center.
It indicates that, in principle, any software can use spatial Audio. On Spotify, for instance, you may take advantage of Spatial Audio, but the quality of the sound is not as high as it is on Apple Music. On the other hand, users have claimed that the spatial Audio seems like a gimmick on Spotify, and these people have a point.
How to Turn Off Spatial Audio?
- Swipe down from the top-right corner of the screen to open Control Center.
- If you want to change the volume, press and hold the slider.
- The symbol for your AirPods or Beats headphones should appear here.
- Select Spatialize Stereo.
- To turn it off, tap Off.
How to Get Spatial Audio on Apple Music?
Apple Music has hopped on the spatial audio bandwagon, using Apple Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos mixes of popular tunes to provide an immersive listening experience that changes as your head moves. Here is how you can get it on Apple Music:
How to Make Apple Music Play Spatial Audio
In iOS 14.6 and later, Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio detection is by default turned on. You can do this with the built-in speakers on the iPhone XR and later models or with AirPods, AirPods Pro/Max, or more recent Beats headphones.
The “Always On” setting allows you to use Spatial Audio with headphones that support Dolby Atmos.
- Open the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad if you have iOS 14.6 or later installed.
- Select Dolby Atmos from the Music menu.
- Please change the default option for Spatial Audio to Always On to utilize it with headphones that aren’t Apple or Beats compatible.
- To store offline music in Spatial Audio, enable “Download in Dolby Atmos.”
Where Can I Get and Listen to Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio?
- Apple Music emphasizes material accessible in Spatial Audio on the Listen Now, Browse, and Search tabs.
- Check out all Spatial Audio music playlists under the Browse tab, such as the Hits, Hip-Hop, Pop, Country, Rock, and Jazz playlists. In addition, there is a section labeled “The Best of Spatial Audio” and another titled “New Music in Spatial Audio.”
- Apple has updated the Search bar to include a new category labeled “Spatial Audio” in the top left-hand corner. It will serve as a center for all Dolby Atmos Spatial Audio material on Apple Songs, including videos, music, lessons, highlighted albums, new content, and more.
- Pull up a particular album or song on Apple Music to discover whether it’s available in Spatial Audio. Look beneath the album artwork and play the button for “Dolby Atmos.”
- When looking at a song in the Music app, check immediately above the play/pause button to see whether it’s playing in Spatial Audio. Check for Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos in the bottom right corner of Control Center by swiping down from the top right corner and long-pressing on the headphones icon.
Why Is My Spatial Audio Not Working?
Make sure you have the latest version of iOS on your phone before proceeding. The next problem is simple, but it’s not as simple to fix: Apple’s AirPods Pro are the only ones capable of spatial audio. Unfortunately, it isn’t compatible with the first or second generation of AirPods, so you’ll have to wait until you can afford a new set. So if you have AirPods Pro, but they still don’t function, it might be your iPhone or the AirPods Pro firmware.
If you have an iPhone 6S or an iPhone SE, you won’t be able to enjoy the spatial audio function of iOS 14 since it requires an iPhone 7 or later. Additionally, to experience spatial Audio on an iPhone 7 or later, you must first upgrade the software on your AirPods if you have both the AirPods Pro and the device.
Check Your AirPods’ Firmware
Your AirPods’ firmware may be checked by navigating to Settings > General > Bluetooth and searching for them. Afterward, press the I symbol next to the AirPods Pro and look at the software version number. AirPods Pro firmware 38283 is required for spatial Audio to operate, so if yours does not, it’s time to upgrade. Instead, you will need to connect your AirPods to your iPhone, place them in the charging case, make sure the lid is open, and charge both the case and the AirPods. Then, wait for the AirPods to automatically connect to your iPhone when you first turn them on. During this procedure, the AirPods should automatically upgrade their firmware.
To determine whether your AirPods have updated after a while, use the same procedure as above. If they did, you may use spatial Audio. When you’re in the iPhone’s Control Center, swipe down from the top-right corner and hold down the AirPods settings for a long time. Using the “Spatial Audio” feature, you may play your favorite song or video to see how it works. You’ll feel like you’re in a movie theater as the sound follows you.
Although Spatial Audio technology and 3D Audio are the future of music, this capability is still relatively new, particularly on the iPhone. You don’t need to worry about it just now, even if you don’t have the correct iPhone or AirPods to use them with. Although it is an outstanding feature, there is still a significant amount of room for advancement in this regard.
On the other hand, if you can already utilize spatial Audio, nothing prevents you from becoming even more immersed in the music or television programs you like the most.
Feel the sound!