How to use AirPods spatial audio

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Aina Prat Blasi
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The Spatial Audio of the AirPods is a feature that makes you feel like you are on stage by offering an immersive surround sound experience. To listen to a spatial audio demo, tap the “i” to the right of your AirPods in the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone or iPad and choose the spatial audio option. You can listen to spatial audio-enabled content with AirPods on recent iPhones or iPads, as well as Apple TV 4K or the new MacBook Pro.

What is Spatial Audio?

Spatial audio is a fairly broad term used to describe a set of audio technologies that claim to provide more immersive sound than standard stereo playback (left and right channel), with the aim of making the sound feel as if it came from any place while playing a game, watching a movie or listening to music.

Stereo and even surround sound provide a horizontal experience, with sound coming from the left and right independently. Spatial audio, in its various forms, offers a horizontal soundscape, but also makes the sound appear to be coming from above.

It is particularly popular in movies and games, as it offers a more immersive audio experience where sounds like the roar of an airplane engine can be heard overhead, just like in real life.

When it comes to music reproduction, spatial audio offers a more 'spacious' listening experience. Depending on the format you choose, you will hear the instruments around you in a virtual sphere, giving you an experience more like a live musical performance.

However, it's not that simple, as different spatial audio formats offer a slightly different interpretation of an immersive audio experience, and availability can vary as well.

What you need to listen to spatial audio with AirPods

To listen to content with spatial audio, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, AirPods (XNUMXrd generation) or Beats Fit Pro are required.

You will need to pair your compatible headphones with an iPhone 7 or later, an Apple TV 4K with tvOS 15 or later, a MacBook Pro released in 2021 or one of the following iPad models:

  • 12,9-inch iPad Pro (XNUMXrd generation) or later
  • iPad Pro 11 inches
  • iPad Air (XNUMXrd generation) or later
  • iPad (XNUMXth generation) or later
  • iPad mini (XNUMXth generation) or later

Your iPhone or iPad must also be running iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 or later. On any device, another requirement is that the music or video be encoded with spatial audio. For example, songs in the Apple Music app with Dolby Atmos are compatible with spatial audio. There are also several apps that use spatial audio in videos, such as Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and others.

How to listen to a spatial audio demo with AirPods

Apple has designed the AirPods' spatial audio to work more or less automatically, essentially without the need for configuration. To get an idea of ​​how it sounds, you can listen to a demo that Apple has integrated into Settings, then turn it on for supported content. To listen to a spatial audio demo with your compatible AirPods, do the following:

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, launch the app Settings and touch Bluetooth.
  2. Find your AirPods Pro and tap theicon "i ” to the right.
  3. Toccata Spatial audio.
  4. You can toggle between stereo and spatial audio to hear the difference in this audio format.

How to listen to spatial audio with an iPhone or iPad

You can switch back and forth between spatial audio and normal two-channel audio with just a few taps. You can do this on your iPhone or iPad, as well as on an Apple TV 4K or MacBook Pro, which we have detailed below. Here's how to use the feature on an iPhone or iPad.

  1. While wearing your AirPods and listening to music or watching videos encoded in spatial audio, open Control Center on your iPhone or iPad by pulling it down from the top right corner of the screen.
  2. Touch and hold the volume slider until the volume slider page fills the screen.
  3. Find the icon Spatial audio o Spatialize Stereo at the bottom of the screen. If it is enabled, it will be blue and indicate On. To turn it on or off, tap the button.

How to listen to spatial audio with a 4k Apple TV

  1. While wearing your AirPods and listening to music or watching videos encoded in spatial audio, press and hold the button Home on the remote control until the control panel is displayed. 
  2. Select the AirPods.
  3. Select Spatial audio o Spatialize Stereo to activate or deactivate the function.

IPhone audio not working, how to fix

How to listen to spatial audio with a MacBook Pro

  1. While wearing your AirPods and listening to music or watching videos encoded in spatial audio, click the Control Center icon at the top of the screen.
  2. click on Bluetooth.
  3. Find your AirPods in the list of Bluetooth devices and then choose Spatial audio o Spatialize Stereo to enable the effect.

Further Reading:

  • How to connect AirPods to Apple Watch
  • How to connect AirPods to iPhone and iPad
  • Find out how to connect Apple AirPods with your Android smartphone
  • How to change the settings of AirPods and AirPods Pro
  • How to connect AirPods to PS4

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