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To enable spatial sound for AirPods on iPhone or iPad



AirPods Pro next to an iPhone 11 Pro.
Hadrian / Shutterstock.com

If you have AirPods Pro, you can now enable Spatial Audio for a “theater-like surround sound experience.”

; Your iPhone or iPad will track the movements of your head and device to provide more immersive sounds.

What you need

This feature requires AirPods Pro – it does not work with standard AirPods or any Beats headphones, although it may work with future models.

Spatial Audio works with iPhone 7 and later. For iPad, you need at least an iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation), iPad Pro 11-inch, iPad Air (3rd generation), iPad (6th generation) or iPad Mini (5th generation) ) or a later device.

On a supported device, you need to update to at least iOS 14 or iPadOS 14, that’s when Apple introduced the feature

Finally, you also need “audiovisual content from a supported app” – it does not work in all apps and with all videos. The content you watch must have at least 5.1 surround sound to work. With standard stereo sound, you will not notice any difference.

To enable (or turn off) spatial sound

First, remove your AirPods Pro from the case and place them in your ears.

Go to Settings> Bluetooth on your iPhone or iPad. Press the “i” button to the right of the AirPods.

Access AirPods options in the Settings app.

Scroll down this page and look for the “Room Sound” option. (If you do not see it, you may need to update your AirPods firmware.)

To activate Spatial Audio, make sure that the “Spatial Audio” option here is activated – the switch on the right turns green. If not, press the power button to turn it on.

To test spatial sound, press the “See and hear how it works” option.

Activate and test Spatial Audio on an iPhone.

Tap the “Stereo Audio” and “Spatial Audio” options here to compare how they sound. To use spatial sound, tap “Turn on for supported videos.” If you press “Now now”, Spatial Audio will be disabled.

The test screen Spatial Audio on an iPhone.

How to quickly switch to and from room noise

To quickly turn Spatial Audio on and off, you can also use the Control Center. Open it by swiping down from the top right corner of your iPhone or iPad.

Long press the volume control that has a small image of your AirPods to access their options.

Access to AirPods options in the iPhone Control Center.

At the bottom of the screen, tap the “Room sound” option to turn it on and off.

You can also adjust their transparency mode from here and control how the noise reduction works on your AirPods

AirPods Spatial Audio and Noise Control switches.

How to test room noise

With the launch of the Spatial Audio feature with iOS 14 and iPadOS 14 in September 2020, Apple TV +, Disney + and HBO Max support the spatial audio feature. Other apps and services are likely to add support for it in the near future as well.

To test it, here’s a Dolby Atmos demonstration video. Play it on your iPhone or iPad with Spatial Audio enabled and you will hear how the virtual surround sound works.

A Dolby Atmos test video played on an iPhone.




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