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How to enable spatial audio and try it on the AirPods Pro

By Cookie Monster - on 26 Sep 2020, 10:25am

How to enable spatial audio and try it on the AirPods Pro

Note: This article was first published on 18 Sept 2020.

With the arrival of iOS 14 and the latest firmware version for the AirPods Pro, spatial audio is finally here! 

In case you missed it, Apple previewed the feature at WWDC 2020 in June. Spatial audio is stated to bring a theater-like surround-sound experience to the movie or video you're watching. 

Before we guide you on how to enable and try out spatial audio, you need to fulfill these requirements: 

  • Have AirPods Pro with the latest firmware (3A283)
  • Audiovisual content from a supported app (more on this later)
  • A compatible Apple phone or tablet:-
    • iPhone 7 or later models with iOS 14 
    • iPad Pro (12.9-inch, 3rd gen & later) with iPadOS 14
    • iPad Pro 11-inch with iPadOS 14
    • iPad Air (3rd gen) with iPadOS 14
    • iPad (6th-gen or later) with iPadOS 14
    • iPad mini (5th gen) with iPadOS 14

Once your pair of AirPods Pro earbuds are connected to your iOS device, head over here to enable spatial audio functionality:-

Settings > Bluetooth > Find your AirPods Pro > Tap the info button > Turn on Spatial Audio

Apple has included an option for you to see and hear how it works. You can toggle between stereo audio or spatial audio to hear the difference. 

With Spatial Audio enabled, you can proceed to open a supported app with audiovisual content to try. For now, it seems that Apple TV+ content and movies from the iTunes Store support Spatial Audio. There are reports that Disney+ and HBO Max are supported as well. Spatial Audio also requires 5.1-, 7.1-channel encoded audio content or Dolby Atmos encoded audio content to work.

To know whether Spatial Audio is working or enabled for your movie or video, go to Control Center and long press on the volume control. You will be shown another screen where there are two options at the bottom: Noise Control (Noise Cancellation) and Spatial Audio (On). 

Spatial audio is active.

Do note that Spatial Audio can be enabled, but it may not be working for the content that you're watching. To know whether Spatial Audio is working, refer to the diagram below which is provided by Apple: 

Image source: Apple

With most of iOS users enjoying the free one-year trial of Apple TV+, there is no shortage of content to test out Spatial Audio. If your trial period is over or you're not subscribing Apple TV+, you can also head to iTunes Store to rent some movies. For those who are not willing to spend the extra money to try out the feature, here's a trick: you can watch trailers of the movies!