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Spatial audio is now available on Apple Music. So what is it?



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Jide Akinrinade / CNET

This story is part of Apple event, our full coverage of the latest news from Apple headquarters.

Spatial audio is now available to Apple Music subscribers. Also known as immersive audio, this audio format has been around in various forms for years, although this is the first time you can hear it on Apple’s music subscription service.

“It’s available today with albums from some of your favorite artists such as Ariana Grande, The Weeknd, J Balvin and Kacey Musgraves,” said Apple’s Gagan Gupta on WWDC 2021.

Read more: Apple FaceTime gets spatial audio for ‘more natural’ conversations

Here’s what we know about Apple Music and spatial audio.






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What is spatial audio?

Spatial audio is designed to give height and back effects to video calls, music, and specially remixed music. Apple introduced spatial audio on his AirPods Pro last year and it uses the headphones’ accelerometer for head tracking so that the on-screen audio stays in place when users move their heads.

The two main formats for music are Dolby Atmos Music and Sony’s 360 Reality Audio. Apple has not yet made any statements about Sony and Apple Music will support Atmos for the time being.

“Listening to a song in Dolby Atmos is like magic. The music comes from all around you and sounds incredible,” Oliver Schusser, Apple’s vice president of Apple Music and Beats, said in a press release in May.

What devices can I hear it on?

Apple hasn’t announced any dedicated speaker devices yet – a la the Amazon Echo Studio — but spatial audio is supported by the company’s headphones. Here are the products that support it so far:

  • Apple TV 4K (2017 and 2021)
  • AirPods and Beats headphones with H1 or W1 chip
  • Built-in speakers of the latest iPhone, iPad and Mac (M1 chips)

Which services should I subscribe to?

Apple Music is adding Atmos Music albums starting today, and it’s available on a $10 (£10, AU$12) monthly subscription. Last month, both Amazon and Apple announced that their HD streams would include Atmos audio folded in their normal plans.

However, Apple Music Isn’t the First Spatial Audio to Appear on Apple Devices — Tidal Brought Atmos Music to Apple TV 4K in May 2020. Sony’s Reality Audio 360 will be available on its own headphones and high-end speakers.


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