If you want to use Apple’s new 3D audio function (“Spatial Audio”) for Apple Music, you don’t necessarily need earphones or headphones from the manufacturer. Third-party products can also be used to play Dolby Atmos tracks. This, however, requires minor contortions, because the option is not automatically activated – in contrast to AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max or Beats products with the Group’s H1 or W1 audio chip.
Dolby Atmos is free for everyone
Apple released Spatial Audio along with lossless quality music earlier this month for free to all Apple Music users. In addition to the previous subscription price (10 euros / month), there are no further fees. The Dolby Atmos titles will initially be available in quantities of several thousand; There are already millions of copies of lossless songs. With Spatial Audio, classics from the Rolling Stones, for example, should also sound “brand new”, instruments are distributed on a virtual stage.
Dolby Atmos is basically compatible with any device that can be placed in or on the ears – the technology uses the two available stereo channels. Activation takes place automatically only with Apple hardware. In order to use Spatial Audio with headphones and earphones from third-party manufacturers, a trip to the system settings is necessary.
Simply in the system settings
Under “Music” go to the “Audio” area and then to “Doly Atmos”. “Automatic” is normally preselected here – and this means that only Apple or compatible Beats hardware is supported. If you go to “Always on”, Dolby Atmos or Spatial Audio is always output, regardless of which headphones or earphones are currently connected to the device.
How impressive the effect is, however, depends heavily on the plugs or over- / on-ears used. Even Apple’s regular AirPods, which are automatically supported, provide the effect only ambiguously due to the rather weak drivers. However, good headphones or earphones from manufacturers such as Sony, Sennheiser, Bose and Co. should offer an adequate sound experience – Dolby Atmos is not technical rocket science. Apple plans to bring Spatial Audio into the Android app for Apple Music – whether this will then be automatically compatible with headphones from other manufacturers without having to make any settings remains to be seen.