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How to use your AirPods’ spatial audio feature

Apple added spatial audio to the AirPods Pro, AirPods third generation, and AirPods Max. For both music and video, it provides an immersive surround sound experience. Instead of shifting direction as you turn your head, spatial audio immerses you in a 360-degree sound stage that remains rooted to the world around you.

With AirPods on, for example, spatial audio means that the stereo separation of musical instruments may revolve around you as you walk and turn, giving you the impression that the music surrounds you rather than being pumped in via ears.

AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, AirPods (third generation), or Beats Fit Pro are required to listen to content with spatial audio.

You’ll need an iPhone 7 or later model, an Apple TV 4K with tvOS 15 or later, a MacBook Pro produced in or after 2021, or one of the following iPad models to use compatible headphones:

  • iPad Pro 12.9‑inch (third generation) or later
  • iPad Pro 11‑inch
  • iPad Air (third generation) or later
  • iPad (sixth generation) or later
  • iPad mini (fifth generation) or later

Additionally, your iPhone or iPad must be running iOS 14 or iPadOS 14 or later.

Another necessity for any device is that the music or movie be encoded with spatial audio. Songs using Dolby Atmos, for example, are compatible with spatial audio on the Apple Music app. Several applications, including Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, Disney Plus, and others, utilise spatial audio in video.

Apple engineered the AirPods’ spatial audio to function almost seamlessly, with little to no setup required. You can listen to a demo integrated into Settings to get an idea of how it sounds, and then switch it on for supported content. Do the following to hear a demo of spatial audio with your compatible AirPods:

  • Start the Settings app on your iPhone or iPad and choose Bluetooth.
  • Tap the I symbol to the right of your AirPods Pro.
  • Select Spatial Audio from the menu.
  • You may listen to the difference between stereo and spatial audio by switching back and forth.

With only a few touches, you can switch between spatial audio and regular two-channel audio. This can be done on an iPhone or iPad, as well as a 4K Apple TV or a MacBook Pro, which we’ll go over in more depth below.

  • On an iPhone or iPad, here’s how to utilise the function.
  • Open the Control Center on your iPhone or iPad by bringing it down from the top right of the screen while wearing your AirPods and listening to music or watching video encoded in spatial audio.
  • Tap and hold the volume slider to fill the screen with the volume slider page.
  • At the bottom of the screen, look for the Spatial Audio or Spatialize Stereo icon. It will be blue and show On if it is enabled. Simply press the button to turn it on or off.

How to use an Apple TV 4k to listen to spatial audio

  • Press and hold the Home button on your remote until the Control Panel displays while wearing your AirPods and listening to music or watching video encoded in spatial audio.
  • Choose the AirPods.
  • Toggle the functionality on or off by selecting Spatial Audio or Spatialize Stereo.

How to use a MacBook Pro to listen to spatial audio

  • Click the Control Center icon at the top of the screen while wearing your AirPods and listening to music or watching video encoded in spatial audio.
  • Bluetooth should be selected.
  • To activate the effect, find your AirPods in the list of Bluetooth devices and select Spatial Audio or Spatialize Stereo from the drop-down menu.

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