How to Get Spatial Audio on your AirPods Pro
Surround sound, Apple Style
Apple released iOS 14 and iPad OS 14 recently but what the new software brings is not restricted merely to the iPhone and the iPad. Back in June, during WWDC 2020 keynote, Apple had mentioned that it was working on Spatial Audio, an added feature on the AirPods Pro. The notion seemed promising and now Apple has delivered the feature with the iOS 14. And from what we have heard, it would be safe to say that it did not disappoint.
What’s spatial about it? It’s surround sound on your AirPods Pro (kinda sorta)
Spatial Audio is basically a fancy name (technology, terminology…sigh!) for something similar to surround sound. We know these two things are not exactly the same but Apple has tried to recreate the surround sound or “theatre-like experience” over its AirPods (specifically the AirPods Pro) using the software. So when you update your iPhone or your iPad to iOS 14 and pair it with AirPods Pro, you should automatically get the “Spatial Audio” feature on your device. That said, we would recommend restarting your device once and then connecting your AirPods Pro again to be on the safe side to actually get it going.
The new firmware update, 3A283, essentially uses the sensors on your iPhone and iPad and AirPods Pro to create a three-dimensional audio experience, something you would experience in a theatre, or similar environment. The AirPods Pro will convert 5.1 channel, 7.1 channel, or Dolby Atmos digital audio signals into virtual surround sound. The feature actually uses accelerometers and gyroscopes to simultaneously track movements of your head and the movement of your iPad or iPhone and changes the audio accordingly which creates an illusion that the sound is coming from your surroundings and not just from your AirPods Pro.
A quick disclaimer: this will only work with supported videos and audio that comes with support for multichannel audio like Apple TV Plus and a few others, at the moment of writing. But the list is expected to expand.
Making your AirPods Pro go Spatial
To be able to experience spatial audio, you obviously need a pair of AirPods Pro and an iOS device that can support iOS 14 or iPad OS 14. Once you have the basics sorted, you will get Spatial Audio on your device once you pair them. For, getting it on your device and activating it are two different things.
Once you have updated your iPad or iPhone to iOS 14 or iPad 14, and then connected it to your AirPods Pro, you need to activate spatial audio. It is a simple enough process. Here is how you do it:
Step 1: Go to Settings
Once you have your AirPods Pro connected to your iPhone or iPad, you have to go to the Settings App on the device.
Step 2: Select Bluetooth
After getting to the Settings, select “Bluetooth” from the options which will give you a list of all the devices paired with your device.
Step 3: Pick AirPods Pro
This list of paired devices will have your AirPods Pro in it. Find it in the list and tap on the little blue “i” icon next to it.
Step 4: Turn on Spatial Audio (and experience it if you wish)
That tiny “i” icon will take you to a new screen with a number of options related to the AirPods Pro. From this list, you have to find the “Spatial Audio” option (you will have to scroll to find it, be patient). Once you have found it, tap on the toggle next to it to activate the feature. There’s even an option to experience how it works right below the Spatial Audio option, which shows how spatial audio is different from normal stereo sound.
Step 5: Use it from the Control Center
Once you have activated Spatial Audio, you can also control it from the Control Center. Just swipe down from the top right side of your device. You will see the AirPods Pro icons on the volume button. Long press on it and you will see the option to choose to switch on Noise Contol and also Spatial Audio.
Go ahead, update your AirPods Pro listening experience. It does not hit you straight away, but it is special…or should we say, Spatial?
Here is a nice video about the same by our friend Kdcloudy: