Thanks to a new “Spatialize Stereo” option, macOS Monterey can now simulate Spatial Audio for non-Dolby content.
What is Spatial Audio?
Spatial Audio was announced with iOS 14 last year as a feature to bring more immersive sound to specific hardware (more on that in a moment). Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos and Lossless Audio is available to Apple Music subscribers at no additional cost. The company says Spatial Audio gives artists “the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multidimensional sound and clarity.”
Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music so the sound comes from all around and from above. 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 versions of iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Apple says Apple Music will be adding new Dolby Atmos tracks constantly and will be curating a special set of Dolby Atmos playlists to help listeners find the music they love. In addition, albums that are available in Dolby Atmos will have a badge on the detail page for easy discovery.
Spatial Audio system requirements
According to an Apple support document, you need to the following devices to use Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos on Mac:
° AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max;
° BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, or Beats Studio Buds;
° The built-in speakers on a MacBook Pro (2018 model or later), MacBook Air (2018 model or later), or iMac (2021 model).
Apple’s Spatialize Stereo feature can place any stereo audio mix in a virtual environment around you.This means that sounds will appear to originate from various locations and distances around you.
Let’s look at how to spatialize stereo audio in macOS Monterey (but first put on your AirPods, AirPods Pro or AirPods Max):
How to use Spatial Audio with Apple Music
° Launch the Apple Music app.
° Choose Music from the menu bar.
° Select Preferences.
° Click the Playback tab.
° Toggle Dolby Atmos to Automatic, Always-On, or Off. (If you want to use other headphones that don’t support automatic playback, choose Always On.)
You can find music available in Dolby Atmos on Apple Musicʼs editorial playlists.
Spatial audio and FaceTime
With Spatial Audio, a sound field gets created during a conversion, which Apple says “helps conversations flow as easily as they do face to face.” Additionally, “your friends’ voices are spread out to sound like they’re coming from the direction in which they’re positioned on the call.”