How to Enable Spatial Audio in Apple Music

How to Enable Spatial Audio in Apple Music


A woman shot from above, wearing a pair of silver AirPods Max

Photo: Hadrian (Shutterstock)

Apple Music supports spatial audio using the Dolby Atmos technology, which means that you can listen to some of your favorite songs with a cool surround sound-like effect. We’re going to show you how to enable spatial audio in Apple Music so you can make the most of this cool feature.

What is spatial audio?

Spatial audio adds a theater-like surround sound effect to whatever audio you’re listening to, making it feel like the sound is coming from different directions around you. For example, if you’re watching a TV show, you may hear footsteps coming from the left side while a character speaks from the right, while background sounds may appear to be playing from in front of or above you.

Apple Music has added this feature to some songs, too, optimizing them for spatial audio. If you’re going to try this feature, don’t expect it to be a game-changer—some tracks have been really well mixed and sound amazing, while others may not sound as good as their original versions.

What do I need to listen to spatial audio on Apple Music?

You need Dolby Atmos compatible hardware to listen to spatial audio tracks on Apple Music, and you’ll also have to ensure that you’ve updated your software.

Spatial audio is supported by most Apple and Beats headphones currently available. This includes AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, and Beats Studio Buds. You can also use Dolby Atmos compatible headphones made by other companies.

You may also be able to listen to songs in spatial audio using the built-in speakers on some Apple devices. We’ll walk you through the steps for enabling it for each type of device.

How to enable spatial audio on iPhone/iPad

On iPhone and iPad, ensure that you’ve updated to iOS 14.6 and iPadOS 14.6, respectively. Then, go to Settings > Music > Dolby Atmos and choose Always On or Automatic. Choosing Automatic is best if you’re using one of the Apple headphones mentioned earlier in this article. In that case, Apple Music will automatically play tracks in spatial audio when a Dolby Atmos version is available. If you are using third-party headphones to enjoy spatial audio, you should pick Always On.

Note that you can listen to songs in spatial audio using the built-in speakers on an iPhone XS or newer phone (but not the iPhone SE unfortunately), the 12.9-inch iPad Pro (3rd generation or newer), 11-inch iPad Pro, or the 4th Gen iPad Air.

How to enable spatial audio on a Mac

If want to listen to spatial audio in Apple Music on a Mac, first, update to macOS 11.4. Once that’s done, open the Music app and in the menu bar, navigate to Music > Preferences. Go to the Playback tab and choose Always On or Automatic for Dolby Atmos.

Apple says the built-in speakers on a MacBook Pro (2018 model or newer), MacBook Air (2018 model or newer), and iMac (2021 model) can all play tracks in spatial audio.

How to enable spatial audio on Apple TV

To listen to songs in spatial audio on an Apple TV, you need to have an Apple TV 4K with tvOS 14.6 or newer versions of the software, as well as compatible headphones or speakers.

For an Apple TV 4K, you can either set up a HomePod as the default speaker or connect the streaming box to a Dolby Atmos compatible speaker, TV, or AV receiver. Alternatively, you can pair the Apple TV with any of the Apple or Beats headphones mentioned earlier in this article.

With these requirements taken care of, you can switch on your Apple TV 4K and go to Settings > Apps > Music > Dolby Atmos. Now set it to Automatic.

How to enable spatial audio for Apple Music on Android

Finally, you can even listen to songs in spatial audio on Apple Music on Android. First, update the app to the latest version and check if your Android phone supports Dolby Atmos. Next, open Apple Music and tap the More button on the home page, then select Settings > Dolby Atmos. You can now enable spatial audio.

How can I find spatial audio tracks on Apple Music?

Apple Music has a lot of spatial audio playlists that you can check out right now. You can also look for the Dolby Atmos logo below the name of the album and artist to check if it’s available in spatial audio.

 



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