How to use spatial audio on iPhone, iPad and AirPods

Estimated read time: 3 minutes



Spatial audio on iPhone, iPad and AirPods has rolled out. You must turn it on and scan your head and ears to take full advantage. I did all of that and have to say the immersive audio experience while lifting weights was pretty great. Spatial

Let’s discuss the details, including:

What is spatial audio?

It’s sometimes called 3D audio and offers a surrounding or fuller audio experience. Apple explained it like this when you turn it on for AirPods. Stereo audio is from two sides.

Regular audio

Spatial audio surrounds you.

Spatial audio definition



How about personalized audio?

The personalized version of this type of audio keeps your personal features in mind. For example, the iPhone scans your head and each ear separately to provide that personalized experience.

Read next: Why is my left AirPod not working?

The steps to turn spatial audio on in the iPhone and AirPods

There are a few steps to take to turn this feature on. I explain them in this video I recorded while setting this up for myself.

To turn the feature on, follow these steps:

  • Place your AirPods in your ears and make sure they are connected to the phone
  • Go to Settings, Bluetooth, and find the AirPods. Click on them.
  • Scroll down to spatial audio
  • When prompted, take the AirPods out of your ears. While doing this, I didn’t put them in the case and just placed them on my standup desk.
  • Scan your head, followed by each ear. Scanning the ears is hard, but just pointing the phone in the general direction worked for me.

If you don’t prefer this audio setting for some reason, you can turn it off in settings in the future.

Once you start listening to something, go to the Control Center (swipe down from the top right corner) and hold the audio bar. From there, you can set further preferences on how the spatial audio will sound. Those settings include “fixed” or “head tracked.”

Spatial audio settings on iPhone or iPad

Is spatial audio worthwhile?

I feel that it’s worthwhile. The experience at the gym was great, and it could even be a great experience if you connect your AirPods to your television set while watching a show.

It sounded great, though it was maybe even more isolating from outside sounds than just the regular noise cancellation feature. That’s not necessarily a problem but something to keep in mind. I tried the transparent sound option for a moment and felt the same way.

Overall, I thought the quality and experience were great, and listening to 3D audio is certainly an improvement.

Read next: How does product innovation happen?

What creators need to know about spatial audio

Every time there’s an advancement in technology, there’s also a potential impact on creators – particularly audio creators. The biggest takeaway is that the improvement in audio means that creators must ensure their audio quality is good. That means using a good microphone, and general setup – which could include sound panels.

Read next: How to make your voice sound better on a podcast



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