Quick guide: How to use Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos on Apple Music

Apple’s spatial audio feature (alongside lossless music) with support for Dolby Atmos is finally available on Apple Music in India. The whole idea behind the Dolby Atmos spatial audio is to make users feel as if they are hearing three-dimensional audio while using headphones, recreating a cinema-like experience. The good news: spatial audio with support for Dolby Atmos is available to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost. As of now, there are only a few thousand tracks, out of the 75 million in Apple Music, with support for spatial audio, but the larger message is the availability of Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos to a larger audience base without needing any special hardware. But how do I listen to spatial audio in Apple Music? Here’s how to try.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is pitched as the most advanced feature on recently released soundbars and home theater systems. It’s an immersive audio technology that offers surround sound, essentially Atmos makes it sound like you are in a movie or at a concert. Basically, Dolby Atmos makes you believe that sound is coming from all around you — left, right and above — instead of just right in front of you. Dolby licenses Atmos to various OEMs, which decides whether they want to put this technology in a PC, smartphone, game console, soundbar, smart speaker, or home theater system.

What is Spatial Audio?

Spatial Audio is essentially Apple’s immersive sound technology that takes advantage of various sensors in the company’s flagship AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. This is where Spatial audio differs from Dolby Atmos, as Apple’s sound technology is being used to track your head and position the sound accordingly. If you are watching a movie on the iPhone and AirPods Max and you turn your head, you will hear the sound shifts to the direction of your iPhone.

apple music, apple music spatial audio, lossless music apple music, how to use spatial audio on apple music, apple music free, apple music vs spotify Apple has made it easy to find Dolby Atmos content in Apple Music. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

What’s Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos

While Spatial audio can work independently, Apple has another level. It has added tracks on Apple Music that support Dolby Atmos. which also takes advantage of Spatial Audio. The combination of Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos simply means when you are listening to Blinding Lights by The Weeknd it gives the impression as if you are sitting in the middle of a recording studio or live concert.

Do I need special Apple devices to use Spatial Audio?

By default, Apple Music will automatically play Dolby Atmos tracks on all AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip, as well as the built-in speakers in the latest iPhone, iPad and Mac (M1) models. The spatial audio is supported by Apple TV (2017 and 2021). HomePod will also support Spatial Audio for Apple Music.

Setting Up Spatial Audio With Dolby Atmos

iPhone or  iPad

#Make sure your iPhone or iPad is running iOS 14.6/iPadOS 14.6
#Tap the Settings app.
#Choose Music.
#Select Dolby Atmos under Audio.
#Decide between Automatic*, Always-On, or Off.


#Update the Mac to macOS 11.4 or later.
#Open Apple Music.
#Choose Music > Preferences from the menu bar.
#Select the Playback tab, and choose from Automatic*, Always-On, Off.

With Automatic selected, here’s what you need

#AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max.
#BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, or Beats Solo Pro.
#The built-in speakers on a MacBook Pro (2018 model or later), MacBook Air (2018 model or later), or iMac (2020 model or later).

How do I listen to Spatial audio with Dolby Atmos in Apple Music?

It is easy to sample the music in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos. When you play the song, you’ll see the Dolby Atmos badge on the album’s detail page. It should be noted that every song on the album will be available in Dolby Atmos. And in case you are curious to listen to songs created to support Dolby Atmos vs stereo, it is recommended to listen to the playlist “Made for Spatial Audio.” That will give some idea between Stereo vs Dolby Atmos.

apple music, apple music spatial audio, lossless music apple music, how to use spatial audio on apple music, apple music free, apple music vs spotify You can get spatial audio, if you are a subscriber to Apple Music. (Image credit: Anuj Bhatia/Indian Express)

How to listen to Apple Music Spatial Audio on third-party headphones

To be clear, you don’t necessarily need AirPods or Beats headphones to listen to Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos in Apple Music.  This new feature also applies to non-Apple headphones that support Dolby Atmos. All you need to change the settings on your iPhone or iPad to enjoy Apple Music Spatial Audio on any headphone.

Here’s how to do it:

#Open Settings on your iPhone or iPad.
#Choose Music.
#Select “Dolby Atmos”
#Change the setting to “Always On.”

Keep in mind: when Apple enables head-tracking for Apple Music Spatial Audio later this year as part of iOS 15, this feature will not be available on third-party headphones as it uses the gyroscope sensors inside the AirPods.

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