GadgetARQ Logo
Close this search box.

Spatial Audio in AirPods Pro- Surround Effect, Open and Immersive


Spatial audio delivers surround sound and 3D audio via your AirPods Pro. Among a few other updates rolled out with iOS 14 like battery notifications and easier device switching, a feature has piqued most ears is Spatial Audio.

Spatial audio offers what Apple calls a “theatre-like experience” for audio when you’re watching videos encoded for surround sound.

Spatial Audio

What is spatial audio for AirPods Pro?

Apple spatial audio is a feature that adjusts the frequencies that each ear hears in a way that it places sound virtually anywhere in 3D space. Sounds will appear to be coming from in front of you, from the sides, the rear and even above. Hence, recreating the audio experience of a cinema. It’s technically notable because with AirPods Pro, you only have two sound sources, one in your left ear and one in your right, so it demands work to simulate more than left and right stereo sound.

What does the spatial audio feature do?

Spatial audio creates a sound field depending on the content you view. The field orients to the device to which your AirPods Pro are connected, creating a consistent directional source for the sound. It aims to simulate a movie theater or other multi-channel surround sound environment.

The left channel is always on the left side of your device, not necessarily on the left side of your head. So if you were to move your head, say, to the right, but keep your device where it is, the sound from the left channel wouldn’t follow with your head movement. Instead, the audio from the channel moves behind you., The same as in a standard surround sound setup.

Your device and your AirPods create a more immersive experience. Even if you look away. The audio always comes from the direction of the phone and not elsewhere.

How does spatial audio work?

When you’re wearing AirPods Pro, you don’t have a full surround sound system in your ears. To make the audio seem like coming from multiple speakers placed around you, spatial audio applies directional audio filters and, tweaks the frequencies going into each ear to simulate the sound of individually placed surround sound speakers.

To give more of an immersive experience, spatial audio orients the sound to your device; so, if you were to move your head and not your phone, the sound would come from a different place as if you are moving your head in a theatre.

Spatial audio uses the built-in accelerometer and gyroscope in your AirPods Pro to dynamically track the movement of your head relative to your device and also track the activity of your device to keep the sound consistent.

What happens if my device suddenly moves?

Because the sound field is device-oriented, it moves with your device. It includes sudden movements, like the turns of a car or bus or the banking of a plane. Although, if your head is in a consistent position relative to your device, you shouldn’t notice any change in the audio, no matter how much it moves.

What kind of surround sound does spatial audio support?

Spatial audio for AirPods Pro supports audio encoded in 5.1 7.1 Surround sound and Dolby Atmos.

The Dolby Atmos support is particularly notable because it means that spatial audio can simulate sound coming from almost all directions, not just in front of you, to your left, or your right.

Does it support any headphones besides the AirPods Pro

AirPods Pro are the only headphones to support Apple’s new spatial audio features at this time.

Sony has 3D audio technology for PS4 however, it is limited and not quiet same a Spatial Audio.

How do I get the feature on my AirPods Pro?

Spatial Audio
Spatial Audio in AirPods Pro- Surround Effect, Open and Immersive 7

Because the feature rolled out with iOS, chances are you already have it running on your AirPods. And since there is no manual way of updating, your AirPods would have automatically updated when they are near your iPhone or iPad. Just check that your AirPods are up to date in the settings app of your device.

To check if your AirPods have the new update, make sure you have them paired to your iPhone or iPad. Then open the Settings app > General > About. Then scroll down and select the name of your AirPods Pro. The next screen should tell you the firmware version of your AirPods Pro. If it’s 3A283 — you’re up to date.

Spatial Audio
Spatial Audio is active but not working.
Spatial Audio in AirPods Pro- Surround Effect, Open and Immersive
The Spatial Audio is active and working
Spatial Audio in AirPods Pro- Surround Effect, Open and Immersive
Spatial Audio is OFF

When can I start using spatial audio with my AirPods Pro?

The feature has already rolled out with the iOS 14 update. So, if you have an AirPods Pro, you can check in your settings if your AirPods Pro are updated and use the feature right away.

To do this, open your iPhone’s settings menu, press “Bluetooth,” and look for your AirPods Pro in the list of devices. Tap the (i) button next to it and make sure the “Spatial Audio” switch is active.

Spatial Audio in AirPods Pro- Surround Effect, Open and Immersive


AirPods Pro are feature-loaded, and the new Spatial Audio changes the way a user experiences sound on a headphone. You can use the feature with iTunes, Apple TV+, Disney+ and HBO Max for now. And the future it holds seems intriguing.

If not a game-changer, Spatial Audio is at-least a cool effect for now. Let us know your experience of it. Meanwhile you can also check the ultimate guide to AirPods Pro.





Subscribe to Updates

Get the latest news about technologies into your mailbox.



Subscribe to Updates

Get the latest news about technologies into your mailbox.