Does Spotify Have Spatial Audio? We Investigate

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To mark the release of iOS 14 in September 2020, tech giant Apple announced that it would be introducing a new innovative feature called Spatial Audio.

Since then, the popular feature has gone on to provide listeners with a more immersive, 3D listening experience.

Does Spotify have Spatial Audio?

Spotify does include Spatial Audio, however many users feel that the feature isn’t as impressive when they use it on Spotify as opposed to Apple Music. This makes sense and is probably an intentional tactic by Apple to get more customers to the platform.

Spatial Audio still sounds great on Spotify, and millions of the platform’s subscribers use it when listening to their favorite music.

There have been many rumors that Spotify would eventually include the popular rival to Spatial Audio, Dolby Atmos as part of its subscription, but this is yet to materialize.

For now, Spotify users can enjoy a more immersive way to consume music with the Spatial Audio feature. 

Does Spotify Have Spatial Audio?

Spotify and Apple Music are by far the two biggest music streaming platforms in the world, with Spotify dominating in terms of its subscribers. Therefore, it may come as a surprise to discover that Apple allows Spotify to use its innovative feature, Spatial Audio, as part of its Premium subscription.

Apple owns the rights to the Spatial Audio technology, so there’s no doubt that they will be receiving a financial reward from their rivals to allow them to include the feature.

When you consider the astronomical number of iPhone users who use Spotify you realize that the two companies are very beneficial to one another.

Many Spotify users have called for the platform to use Dolby Atmos instead of Spatial Audio, as they complain that the feature doesn’t work as well as it does on Apple Music. While there’s no way to fully confirm this, it would make a lot of sense if Apple were to hold back some of the qualities that Spatial Audio offer for their own streaming platform.

Spatial Audio is featured on the newest versions of Apple’s popular AirPods, which increase its popularity. Having Spatial Audio also linked to Spotify is more publicity for the feature, and in the long term may result in more people choosing Apple Music to experience the feature in its fullest capacity.

However, the notion that Spatial Audio works better on Apple Music is purely opinion-based. Some people will probably prefer the way the feature works in Spotify, so it’s important to make up your mind by testing out the two different platforms.

How to Enable Spatial Audio on Spotify

If you own a pair of AirPods and use Spotify as your chosen music streaming platform, you can enjoy the Spatial Audio feature. However, this feature is not automatically turned on, so you’ll need to follow some simple steps to use it.

Firstly, Spatial Audio is only available if you are using a device that is running iOS 15 or a later version. If you are running an older version of iOS, you’ll need to update to use Spatial Audio with Spotify.

Next, you need to connect your AirPods to your iPhone. If you haven’t already paired them together, then simply turn on Bluetooth on your iPhone, place the AirPods in the charging case with the lid open and hold them close to the device.

This will prompt the AirPods to appear on your iPhone and you can pair the devices together.

Once the AirPods have been paired with your iPhone, you can simply start playing a song on Spotify, open the control center, and look for the “Spatialize Stereo” icon in the bottom right corner. Tap this icon and the feature will then be turned on.

Next, you should listen carefully to the audio coming through your AirPods to check whether Spatial Audio is working. It may be more noticeable when listening to certain pieces of music than others, but you should be able to tell that the feature is turned on.

Spatial Audio causes the sound to feel like it’s coming from behind, in front, and to both sides of you. It creates a 3D listening experience that is pretty similar to Dolby Atmos, or surround sound in your living room.

Here’s a quick YouTube video to show how to enable spatial audio in Spotify.

Spotify vs. Apple Music – Who Has the Best Spatial Audio?

If you’re looking for the best version of Spatial Audio, there is one clear winner – Apple Music. Apple created the feature and therefore has made it optimally compatible with their audio streaming platform.

Spatial Audio is a feature included only in AirPods Pro and AirPods Max, which are Apple-made. Spatial Audio can then be used with a variety of streaming platforms including Spotify, but it works best with Apple Music.

It’s difficult to know exactly why Spatial Audio works best with Apple Music, as there has never been an official statement to suggest that the feature performs differently on that platform than it does on Apple Music.

The situation could be likened to the AirPods, which are optimized to work best with Apple-made devices such as the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch. However, you can still use AirPods with Android smartphones or PCs, so they’re not completely exclusive to Apple.

This makes sense, as Apple wouldn’t want to miss out on millions of potential AirPods customers who prefer to use Android phones over iOS phones, or PCs over Macs. AirPods, like Spatial Audio, are simply more efficient when they’re used with Apple devices or apps.

Spotify users will have to decide whether the improvements in Spatial Audio outweigh all of the other features that the platform offers and if so they may be tempted to make the switch to Apple Music.

Does Dolby Atmos Use Spatial Audio?

Dolby Atmos and Spatial Audio share some similarities, but neither feature “uses” or relies on the other to work. Apple announced that it would include both technologies in Apple Music so that users could enjoy both.

  • The easiest way to explain the differences between these two technologies is that Spatial Audio is like a layer that is placed on Dolby Atmos, which further enhances the immersive qualities. Dolby Atmos is essentially an audio format, that relies on the audio being mixed in a specific way to facilitate it.

Apple created Spatial Audio so that AirPods users could enjoy a 3D listening experience no matter what they are listening to. So if you’re listening to a song on Apple Music with Dolby Atmos, you can then add Spatial Audio to the mix to further enhance the experience.

Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos can also be used on their own, so it’s not necessary to use them both simultaneously.

Does Tidal Have Spatial Audio?

Unlike Spotify and Apple Music, Tidal doesn’t include Spatial Audio in its list of features. However, the platform does offer its equivalent to Spatial Audio, which is named “360 Reality Audio”.

360 Reality Audio works very similarly to Spatial Audio. It places certain sounds within a 3D sound field and creates the illusion that they come from different directions into the listener’s ears.

Despite the similarities between Spatial Audio and Tidal’s 360 Reality Audio, many users have noticed that Apple’s technology is more effective. This is, of course, subjective, but Apple put in a considerable amount of research and work into Spatial Audio so it would make sense.

If you’re using Tidal on an iOS device, you can use Dolby Atmos Music to create a more immersive listening experience. This is available to anyone who subscribes to Tidal’s HiFi Plus plan.

To locate Dolby Atmos in the Tidal app, simply go to the Explore page then scroll down to find Dolby Atmos. You can also use this feature on the Tidal Smart TV app.

Related Questions

Does Spatial Audio only work with AirPods?

There’s a common misconception that AirPods are the only headphones that facilitate Apple’s Spatial Audio feature, but this isn’t true. You can use the feature with any headphones or earbuds.

Does YouTube Music have Spatial Audio?

Spatial Audio is available on YouTube Music if you are using iOS 15. You can simply turn on “Specialized Stereo” in the Control Center on your Apple device, and then play music on the YouTube app.

Does Netflix have Spatial Audio?

Streaming giants Netflix have a Spatial Audio feature that makes their content more cinematic and immersive. All you need is a stereo sound system and you can enjoy this feature when watching TV shows or movies on Netflix.

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