Spatial Audio on AirPods: What is it and How to Enable it?

Imagine watching your favorite movie and feeling like you’re in the middle of the action, with sounds coming from all around you. Or listening to a live concert and experiencing the music as if you were right there in the crowd. This is the magic of Spatial Audio, a technology that transforms ordinary listening into an immersive, 3D sound experience.

Spatial Audio enhances your audio experience by using advanced algorithms to simulate a multi-dimensional soundscape, adjusting the Audio based on your head movements. This means that whether you’re using it for movies, music, or games, you’ll feel a deeper connection to the content, making it more lifelike and engaging.

In this guide, we’ll explore what spatial Audio is and how it works, and we will provide step-by-step instructions on how to enable it on your Apple devices.

What is Spatial Audio?

Spatial Audio is a revolutionary technology designed to create an immersive, three-dimensional sound experience. Unlike traditional stereo sound, which limits Audio to the left and right channels, Spatial Audio uses dynamic head tracking and advanced algorithms to simulate sounds coming from all directions. This creates the illusion that Audio is surrounding you, making it feel as though you are in the middle of the action.

How It Works: Spatial Audio uses the gyroscopes and accelerometers in your AirPods or Beats headphones to track the position of your head relative to your device. By continuously adjusting the audio channels, it ensures that sounds remain fixed in the space around you, even as you move your head. This technology makes it possible to experience audio in a more natural and engaging way.

Traditional stereo audio confines sound to left and right channels, creating a flat sound stage. In contrast, Spatial Audio utilizes multi-directional sound placement and dynamic head tracking to offer a 360-degree audio experience. This means that sounds are perceived as coming from various directions, enhancing the realism and depth of the audio.

Also Read: How to Switch: Noise Cancellation & Transparency Modes on AirPods

Compatible Devices

To take full advantage of Spatial Audio, it’s essential to have the right devices and ensure they are running the latest software. Here’s a quick overview of the devices that support Spatial Audio and the necessary firmware or software requirements.

  • AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation)
  • AirPods Max
  • AirPods (3rd generation)
  • Beats Fit Pro
  • Beats Studio Pro
  • Beats Solo Pro

iPhone & iPad: Spatial Audio works with iPhone 7 and later models and iPad models, starting from the iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini (5th generation), and all iPad Pro models. To ensure compatibility, your device should be running iOS or iPadOS 14 or later.

Mac: For a Mac, Spatial Audio is supported on models with Apple silicon (M1 or later) running macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later. This includes MacBook Air, MacBook Pro, iMac, and Mac mini models equipped with the M1 chip or newer.

Apple TV: Apple TV 4K with tvOS 14 or later supports Spatial Audio. This setup, combined with compatible AirPods or Beats headphones, creates a cinematic audio experience right in your living room.

Apple Watch: Spatial Audio can also be experienced on Apple Watch when connected to compatible AirPods. Ensure your Apple Watch is running watchOS 7.2 or later to use this feature.

Tip: Always keep your devices updated to the latest firmware and software versions to enjoy all the features and improvements that come with Spatial Audio. Regular updates can enhance compatibility, fix bugs, and introduce new functionalities that enhance your listening experience.

How to Enable Spatial Audio

Enabling Spatial Audio on your devices is straightforward, and this section will guide you through the steps for various Apple devices. Whether you’re using an iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV, the immersive experience of Spatial Audio is just a few steps away. Follow these instructions to start enjoying a three-dimensional soundscape.

1. Using iPhone/iPad

To enjoy Spatial Audio on your iPhone or iPad, you need compatible AirPods or Beats headphones. This feature enhances your audio experience by creating a dynamic sound environment that moves with you.

  1. Ensure you’re using compatible headphones: AirPods Pro (1st or 2nd generation), AirPods Max, AirPods (3rd generation), Beats Fit Pro, Beats Studio Pro, or Beats Solo Pro.
  2. Open Control Center: Swipe down from the top-right corner (Face ID) or swipe up from the bottom edge (Home button).
  3. Touch and hold the volume control, which should display an AirPods icon when connected.
  4. Tap the Spatial Audio icon to enable it:
    • For head tracking, select “Head Tracked.”
    • For fixed Spatial Audio, select “Fixed.”
    • To turn it off, select “Off.”
  5. Alternatively, enable through Settings: Go to Settings > Bluetooth, tap the information icon (i) next to your AirPods, and enable Spatial Audio.

Also Read: MagEZ AirPods Case Review: Luxury Touch, Protection & More

2. Using Mac

Your Mac with Apple silicon supports Spatial Audio, allowing you to experience immersive sound while working or enjoying media on a larger screen.

  1. Ensure you are using a Mac with Apple silicon (M1 or later) running macOS Big Sur 11.1 or later.
  2. Connect your compatible AirPods or Beats headphones.
  3. Click the Control Center icon in the menu bar, then the volume slider.
  4. Select your desired Spatial Audio mode:
    • “Head Tracked” for dynamic head tracking.
    • “Fixed” for fixed audio.
    • “Off” to disable Spatial Audio.

3. Using Apple TV

Transform your living room into a home theater with Spatial Audio on Apple TV 4K. This feature enhances your movie nights and gaming sessions with rich, multi-dimensional sound.

  1. Ensure your Apple TV 4K is running tvOS 14 or later.
  2. Connect your AirPods or Beats headphones.
  3. Go to Settings > Remotes and Devices > Bluetooth.
  4. Select your headphones and play multichannel content.
  5. Choose Spatial Audio from the options.
  6. Alternatively, press and hold the Home button on your Siri Remote while playing content and select Spatial Audio.

Also Read: AirPods Pro 2 vs Echo Buds 2: This Review is All You Need

4. Using AirPods Controls

For quick access, you can enable Spatial Audio directly from your AirPods. This option is convenient for on-the-go adjustments without needing to interact with your device.

AirPods Pro and AirPods Max:

  1. Press and hold the force sensor (AirPods Pro) or the noise control button (AirPods Max) to cycle through modes.
  2. Customize controls in Settings: Go to Settings > Bluetooth, tap the information icon (i) next to your AirPods, and select your desired settings under “Noise Control.”

Check Out Awesome AirPods Cases and Cover

The AirPods get dusty, greasy, and dirty as soon as you remove them from the box and no wonder you can see scratches on them in just a few days. It is always best to carry an AirPods case or cover; here are some of the options that are definitely not a bore.

Troubleshooting Common Issues with Spatial Audio on AirPods

Even with the intuitive setup of Spatial Audio, you might encounter some issues while trying to enable or use this feature. It’s important to know that these issues are often easily resolved with a few troubleshooting steps. Here are some common problems users face and solutions to help you troubleshoot them.

Issue 1: Spatial Audio Not Working

Spatial Audio might not function as expected due to connectivity or software issues. This can be frustrating, especially when you’re eager to experience immersive sound. Here are a few solutions that you can try,

  1. Ensure your AirPods or Beats headphones and your device support Spatial Audio. Refer to the compatible devices section.
  2. Make sure your AirPods and the connected device have the latest firmware and software updates.
  3. Disconnect and reconnect your AirPods via Bluetooth settings.
  4. Sometimes, a simple restart of your iPhone, iPad, Mac, or Apple TV can resolve the issue.

Issue 2: No Sound from One Earbud

Experiencing no sound from one earbud can be due to a connection issue or a problem with the earbud itself. This issue can significantly impact the quality of your listening experience. You can read a detailed guide on how to fix this on our website, but for a quick recap, here are a few solutions to try,

  1. Ensure the earbud is properly seated in your ear and connected to your device.
  2. Dirt or debris might block the sound. Clean your AirPods gently with a soft, dry, lint-free cloth.
  3. Place your AirPods in their case, press and hold the setup button until the status light flashes amber and then white. Reconnect your AirPods to your device.

Issue 3: Audio Quality Issues

If the sound quality is poor, it might be due to a poor connection or settings issue. This can detract from the immersive experience that Spatial Audio offers. A bad audio quality is no good use to your AirPods; here are a few workarounds for you to fix it,

  1. Ensure your AirPods are within range and free from obstructions.
  2. Verify that Spatial Audio and related settings are correctly enabled in the Control Center or Bluetooth settings.
  3. Ensure your devices are running the latest software versions.

Also Read: How to Identify What AirPods Model You Have | Handy Guide

Issue 4: Spatial Audio Switching Off Automatically

This might happen due to specific settings or software glitches. It can be annoying when Spatial Audio unexpectedly switches off, disrupting your listening experience. If you encounter this issue while gaming, it can ruin a whole lot of your mood.

Here are a few solutions for you to try to fix this issue with spatial audio on your AirPods with quick steps,

  1. Make sure you haven’t enabled any automatic switching features that turn off Spatial Audio.
  2. Ensure both your AirPods and the connected device are updated to the latest software.
  3. If using AirPods Pro (2nd generation), disable features like Conversation Boost in Settings > Accessibility > AirPods.

Issue 5: Delay in Audio

Experiencing a delay in audio can be disruptive, often caused by connection issues or outdated software. This delay can be particularly jarring when using Spatial Audio for immersive experiences. Firmware and unstable internet connection are the key problems causing such an issue.

Here are a few quick tips to solve it,

  • Delays might be due to outdated firmware. Update your AirPods and connect the device to the latest software.
  • Keep your device and AirPods within close proximity to avoid connection issues.
  • Restart your AirPods and the connected device to clear any temporary glitches.

Also Read: How to Fix AirPods Not Connecting or Working

Benefits of Using Spatial Audio

Spatial Audio offers numerous benefits that enhance your listening experience, making it more immersive and enjoyable. Here are some key advantages:

  • Spatial Audio creates a three-dimensional soundscape, making you feel like you’re in the middle of the action, whether you’re watching a movie, playing a game, or listening to music.
  • By simulating a natural listening environment, Spatial Audio accurately places sounds around you. This makes it easier to distinguish between different audio sources, enhancing the realism and depth of the audio experience.
  • Spatial Audio uses dynamic head tracking to adjust the sound based on your head movements. This ensures that sounds stay fixed in the space around you, even as you move, providing a consistent and realistic audio experience.
  • In movies and TV shows, Spatial Audio can enhance dialog clarity by separating speech from background noise, making it easier to follow conversations and plot developments.
  • For gamers, Spatial Audio provides a competitive edge by accurately placing in-game sounds, such as footsteps or gunfire, allowing for better spatial awareness and reaction times.
  • With features like personalized spatial audio, you can customize the audio to match how you hear sound better. This personalization enhances the overall listening experience by tailoring the sound to your preferences and ear shape.

Also Read: 25 of The Coolest & Funniest AirPods Engravings Ideas

Most Frequently Asked Question on Spatial Audio for AirPods

What is Spatial Audio? 

Spatial Audio is a technology that creates an immersive, three-dimensional sound experience by simulating sound coming from various directions.

How do I enable Spatial Audio on my iPhone? 

To enable Spatial Audio on your iPhone, connect your compatible AirPods or Beats headphones, open Control Center, touch and hold the volume control, and tap the Spatial Audio icon.

Which devices support Spatial Audio? 

Spatial Audio is supported on AirPods Pro (1st and 2nd generation), AirPods Max, and AirPods (3rd generation). It works with iPhone 7 or later, iPad models starting from the iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad mini (5th generation), all iPad Pro models, Mac models with Apple silicon (M1 or later), and Apple TV 4K.

Can I use Spatial Audio with non-Apple headphones? 

Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking is specifically designed for AirPods and select Beats headphones. However, Dolby Atmos content can be enjoyed on other headphones that support Dolby Atmos, although the head tracking feature will not be available.

What type of content supports Spatial Audio? 

Spatial Audio works with audiovisual content that supports multichannel audio, such as movies, TV shows, and music available on platforms like Apple Music and Apple TV.

Can I customize Spatial Audio settings? 

Yes, you can customize Spatial Audio settings through the Bluetooth settings on your iPhone or iPad. Tap the information icon (i) next to your AirPods, and you can adjust settings such as head tracking and fixed audio.

Is Spatial Audio available on Android devices? 

Spatial Audio with dynamic head tracking is exclusive to Apple devices. However, some Android devices can support Dolby Atmos, which provides a similar immersive audio experience without dynamic head tracking.

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Wrapping up: Spatial Audio on AirPods – A Great Immersive Experience

Spatial Audio is a game-changer in the world of audio technology, offering an immersive, three-dimensional sound experience that brings your favorite content to life. Whether you’re using it for movies, music, or games, Spatial Audio provides a level of depth and realism that traditional stereo sound simply can’t match.

Remember, regular updates and proper maintenance of your devices are crucial to ensuring the best performance of Spatial Audio. If you encounter any issues, refer to our troubleshooting section for solutions to common problems.

Hopefully, this guide came in handy to help you understand how spatial audio works and how you can enable it for your AirPods. Share your thoughts with us through the comments section below. Also, if you like what you read on Tiny Quip, share a word with your friends on social media. You can follow us on XFacebook, and Telegram to show your extended support.

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