How Apple’s Spatial Audio Works—and How It’s Different

Smartphone audio is getting a bit more advanced with two new features: Apple’s Spacial Audio for AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, which was pushed with iOS 14, and Samsung’s 360 Audio feature available on the Samsung Galaxy Bud Pro, which Works similar to specials. Audio but under a different name.

Both of these two audio outputs attempt to feel the surround sound pushed into your ears to try out the individual audio – so the airplanes in the movies sound as if they are zooming in over your head, separated in the room. – Voices arising from different points are heard, and so on. The focus is primarily on film and TV shows, rather than, some say, The Flaming Lips Zaurica.

To take advantage of Apple’s spatial audio, you need an iPhone of iOS 14 or later, or an iPad running iPad 14 or later. You also need a compatible pair of headphones at this time – which is either AirPods Pro or AirPods Max.

Once you have ticked all those boxes, you also need to use an app, which supports spatial audio to ensure that it is pushing through the media format that surrounds all four.

And is encoded with sound. Disney +, Hulu, HBO Max, Plex, and of course, Apple TV + currently support spatial audio (Netflix is ​​apparently working on it), but these apps also only feature up to standard in content selection There will be full support.

From Samsung, for 360 Audio to work, you need the Galaxy Buds Pro in your ears, as well as a device that tops Android 11 with Samsung’s One UI 3.1 – at the time of writing. , Only the latest Samsung Galaxy S21 phones run a UI 3.1, but presumably older devices will get software updates down the line.

With the Apple format, you need to use compatible applications, specifically, apps that support Dolby Atmos surround sound. At the moment, those apps include Netflix, Apple TV +, Vudu, Disney + and Amazon Prime Video, so you should be able to find something to listen to in fully immersive surround sound on your Galaxy Buds Pro.

Spatial audio and 360 audio take basically the same approach. They interpret the surround sound metadata built into the content you’re viewing – the data that tells your device what sound is coming from – and translates it into subtle variations inside your headphones. Obviously all sounds are coming from the left or right of your head, but they are fake in such a way that they are not always visible.

Neither Apple nor Samsung is sharing much about how the algorithm affects the power that actually works, but with both technologies the experience is made more authentic as your AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or Galaxy Buds Pro, actually keeps track of the direction that is part of your head. Indicated that you are listening.

Small tricks such as delays in some of the sounds you hear and small adjustments in volume can be used to mimic the surrounding sound setup. What’s more, when you move your head and your device, the sensors embedded in the hardware must be adjusted so that the audio will play and adapt with you.

The end result is, in theory, the best surround sound you can expect from a phone and a pair of headphones. Traditional surround sound systems typically fill a room, with a number of speakers (either wire or wireless), which corresponds to the number of available audio outputs, and occupies anatomically correct locations – e.g. You have some speakers behind.

Right now, Dolby Atmos promises the most when it comes to smartphone surround sound. DTS headphones: There are other technologies, including the emerging 360 reality audio format from X and Sony, but Dolby Atmos is the leader in the breadth of capabilities, along with the breadth of support and compatibility that make it to the table. Way.

Dolby Atmos eschews the idea of ​​separate audio channels (like 5.1) and instead sounds in a specific position in 3D space – up to 128 tracks can be encoded if necessary.

However many speakers in your living room (or the cinema you are visiting) can interpret that audio data and make sure that the sounds are coming from where they were supposed to be coming from. You are not going to get the same experience with your home cinema as we were quite impressed with the spatial audio on AirPods Max.

Playing content in surround sound from your smartphone through some headphones is not a new idea. Most new premium phones advertise Dolby Atmos support, as do most video streaming apps, although the results so far have been quite complex and widespread. Dolby Atmos already claims to be able to emulate somewhat immersive audio on compatible phones, so it’s worth checking what your current handset is capable of.

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