Spatial audio is the newest audio upgrade from Apple which utilizes Dolby Atmos technology to create a 3D, surround sound effect for music and film.
The History Behind Spatial Audio
For the last 40 years almost all films and music have been recorded in a stereo format. Stereo has two audio outlets for playback, oftentimes the right and left side of your headphones. Before stereo there was mono (one output), and now we have spatial audio which Apple created to simulate an all encompassing, live music experience. Think of it as 3D sound. Technically, “surround sound” has been available since 2012 with Dolby Atmos but their system can be expensive and requires multiple speakers and additional equipment to function. With Apple’s new technology however, the same sound quality is simulated through headphones and is therefore more portable, accessible, and arguably less expensive.
What are experts saying about this new technology? Is it the next frontier or is it just a shiny gimmick?
In an interview with Apple, Engineer Manny Marroquin says he believe spatial audio gives producers the ability to “Take [listeners] inside of the music” and continues by calling it a “revolution”. Slyvia Massy says “[Spatial Audio] allows the entire room to become the experience.” In the same interview Zane Lowe says he believe spatial audio will drive people to “perform their music differently and create their music differently”. Producer No I.D. is excited about the technology and asks the question “What new feelings can I generate for people?”. You can watch the full interview below.
Now because this was an interview for Apple, we could argue the review is somewhat biased. Another content creator/engineer, Jason T. Lewis from Painfully Honest Tech, posted a YouTube video ultimately saying he did believe that spatial audio was a gimmick.
Here at Daydreamer Mag, we believe its too early to say. Several consumer reviews have stated the technology is still a bit glitchy and that the volume is noticeably much lower than stereo. Listeners also noted choppy playback on certain songs. Ultimately this is a new technology with room for improvement, and like any new development, the real value of the technology lies with the consumers, not the product developers.
Will spatial audio be the new standard for artists, mixers and more?
Spatial audio is widely touted to be the next “leap” in listening technology – a truly immersive experience that most literally positions the listener INSIDE the music, however, a new standard would require a much more complex infrastructure than is currently available. Now a days even Top 40 artists are creating their records on laptops in their bedrooms, it could be a while before we see spatial audio as the industry standard.
Favorite Type of Audio for Spatial:
Several listeners were asked what their favorite types of audio were. The listeners advised the richest and most exciting media to listen to was movies, Jazz and Rock.
Who can use Spatial Audio:
Spatial Audio is currently compatible with AirPods Pros and AirPods Maxes with an operating system of IoS 14 or better. Spatial Audio is also available on any speakers that offer Dolby Atmos.
Article by Mary Walker