What is spatial audio and how does it work?


What is spatial audio and how does it work?

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The world of audio technology is evolving, and spatial audio is at the forefront of this transformation. By recreating the auditory experience in the natural environment, Spatial audio opens up a world of immersive and realistic audio experiences. With so many applications, from home entertainment to gaming and virtual reality, spatial audio promises to redefine the way we experience sound in the future.

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You may have come across the term “spatial soundIf you are wondering what this is and how it works, then you are in the right place. In this article, we will delve into spatial audio and its benefits and applications in today’s world.

What is spatial sound?

Spatial audio, often referred to as 3D audio or immersive audio, is an audio technology that aims to replicate the way humans perceive sound in three-dimensional space. This technology makes use of multiple speakers, positioned around the listener, to create an audio experience that appears as if it is coming from all directions – left, right, up, down, and everywhere in between. on your headphones and check out the audio technology demo below.

How does spatial audio work?

The technique is based on the field of study known as psychoacoustics, which is the science of sound perception. Psychacoustics studies how the human brain processes auditory signals and uses these findings to reproduce sounds that are nearly indistinguishable from the real world. Basically, spatial audio tricks your brain into thinking that the sound is coming from a specific direction or source, even if it was actually produced by a speaker or headphone.

You’ll be happy to know that spatial audio offers several advantages over traditional stereo audio. Here are some of them:

  • immersive experienceSpatial audio provides an immersive listening experience by adding depth and direction to sound.
  • Realistic sound reproductionSpatial Audio: By simulating the way we hear sounds in real life, spatial audio provides a realistic audio experience.
  • Optimized media consumption: Whether you’re watching movies, playing video games, or listening to music, spatial audio enhances the overall experience by creating a three-dimensional sound environment.
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Now that we understand what spatial audio is and its benefits, let’s explore how it works in real-life scenarios.


In a cinema setting, spatial sound can greatly improve your movie-watching experience. Multiple speakers placed around the stage allow sound engineers to control the source of specific sounds, immersing the audience in the world of the film. If you want to recreate this experience at home, you’ll need a compatible sound system that supports spatial sound technology.

Imagine that you are listening to a concert where you can feel the music from all directions. Spatial audio brings this experience to headphones. Music producers can place different instruments in different parts of the stage, creating an immersive listening experience.

the games

In video games, spatial audio can elevate gameplay by providing a sense of direction. Votes can indicate where an opponent is coming from or where an object is, providing important information that can make the difference between winning or losing.

Arguably, virtual reality and augmented reality applications are the most exciting spaces for spatial audio. By aligning visual and auditory information, spatial audio adds an extra layer of immersion to VR and AR experiences, making them more realistic.

If you want to try spatial audio, here are some steps you need to take:

    • Check your device compatibility: Make sure that your device supports spatial audio. Many modern smartphones, tablets, and computers come with built-in spatial audio support.
    • Use appropriate headphonesNot all headphones are created equal. Some models, especially those designed for high-end gaming or music listening, offer better spatial audio experiences.
    • Search for spatial audio content: Check out content specifically designed for spatial audio. Streaming platforms like Apple Music, Netflix, and Disney+ are starting to offer spatial audio content.
    • Adjust your settings: On your device, make sure that the spatial audio setting is turned on. This option is usually found in your device’s Sound or Sound settings.
    • Sit back and enjoy: Once everything is set up, all you have to do is sit back, relax and immerse yourself in the 3D sound experience.
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Apple AirPods and Beats headphones

Spatial audio, when paired with dynamic head tracking, provides an immersive audio experience that simulates a theatre-like environment. This technology is designed to create a sense of sound coming from different directions, which enhances the listening experience for users.

To take advantage of spatial audio, some basic requirements must be met. This includes select AirPods or Beats models, including AirPods Pro (1st or 2nd generation), AirPods Max, AirPods (3rd generation), or Beats Fit Pro.

Moreover, the device these headphones are connected to also matters. Spatial audio is supported on iPhone 7 models or later, some iPad models, Mac computers with Apple silicon, and Apple TV 4K running tvOS 15 or later. It is also important to note that the device must be running iOS or iPadOS 15.1 or later. Finally, the content being consumed must be audiovisual and come from a supported application to enable spatial audio.


Turn on Apple Spatial Audio

If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can listen to selected songs in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. Spatial voice activation varies slightly depending on the device used. For iPhone or iPad users, the process begins by making sure that compatible AirPods or Beats devices are connected to your device.

After that, you can go to the control center and hold the volume control to activate spatial audio. This option is available when playing multichannel or two-channel stereo content. Furthermore, the system allows for three distinct settings: spatial audio with Head Tracked, spatial audio only (fixed), and both features off.

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On a Mac with Apple silicon, the steps are similar. Make sure your headphones are connected, then tap the AirPods or Beats icon in the menu bar. This will display the Spatial Audio option, which can be enabled depending on your preference: with head tracking, without, or off.


For Apple TV users, headphones must be connected first. Then go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth. Select AirPods or Beats from the list. Finally, select Spatial Audio or Spatialize Stereo, depending on the type of content you’re playing.

It should be noted that some device settings can affect the spatial audio experience. This includes settings like Follow iPhone, Balance, Mono audio, and Headphone Accommodation.

Spatial audio represents a major shift in how users consume audiovisual content. By providing a surround sound-like experience, it enhances immersion, making your listening experience more immersive and dynamic. However, you need to make sure that your devices and speakers are compatible and that they are using supported apps for optimal performance. For more information about audio technology, go to the Apple newsroom and support site.

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