AirPods Pro 'Spatial Audio,' AirPods with auto-switching coming in iOS 14

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 2020
Apple's AirPods software is being updated with new automatic device switching and a surround sound Spatial Audio mode for AirPods Pro.

Spatial Audio will bring a surround sound-like experience to AirPods Pro. Credit: Apple
Spatial Audio will bring a surround sound-like experience to AirPods Pro. Credit: Apple


All AirPods models will now seamlessly move between devices without the need for a user to manually switch. If your AirPods are connected to your iPad, they'll automatically switch over to your iPhone when you take a call, for example.

The higher-tier AirPods Pro will also receive a new Spatial Audio feature that will mimic an immersive surround sound and movie theater-like experience. In other words, the audio will sound like it's actually coming from around the wearer.

Spatial Audio relies on tricks, like the built-in accelerometer, to monitor a user's head motions so that its sound field stays fixed.

When it launches, Spatial Audio will support audio encoded in 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 27
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,788member
    If the spatial audio works well, it's gonna be completely awesome!
    Scot1watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 27
    roakeroake Posts: 821member
    elijahg said:
    If the spatial audio works well, it's gonna be completely awesome!
    I agree.  I’m pretty excited to try this out!
    elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 27
    XedXed Posts: 2,700member
    I hope this comes to PowerBeats Pro as AirPods Pro aren't comfortable for me.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 27
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,089member
    While Ming Chi Quo hasn't said squat about this feature, I predicted it here last September. Binaural spatial audio, combined with motion detection to hold the "room" still while you move your head.

    Now, it's a matter of time before they implement this for Apple Music. Tidal recently announced availability of Dolby Atmos surround mixes for music on that service, with an Atmos-capable app on AppleTV. Audiophile quality and surround mixes of music has always been a niche market, because it requires end-users to have specialized hardware, reducing the number of people who are able to use the feature, whether that's quad systems and vinyl back in the 70s, SACD, DVD audio and Blu Ray audio, all requiring specialized playback hardware and speakers. With AppleTV, at least some customers have surround speakers set up in their home theaters. Although that's likely more widespread than previous iterations of audiophile capable setups, it's still probably a niche thing. With spatial audio rolling out on AirPods Pro, the use case for streaming of surround/Atmos music is suddenly no longer a niche market. It'll be in millions of people's pockets instantly. If they don't announce this for Apple Music during WWDC, they will soon.

    Scot1elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 27
    The most important question for me as a music producer is whether this will be supported in Logic and FCP, so that I can check my mixes in this environment...
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 27
    SpamSandwichSpamSandwich Posts: 33,407member
    Wonder what happens when a person sets their iPad down flat? The sound rotates upward? Not sure I’d be comfortable with this feature. However, what it really seems like they’re doing is preparing people for AR audio.
    Japheyrazorpit
  • Reply 7 of 27
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,089member
    The most important question for me as a music producer is whether this will be supported in Logic and FCP, so that I can check my mixes in this environment...
    One would think so.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 27
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,089member

    Wonder what happens when a person sets their iPad down flat? The sound rotates upward? Not sure I’d be comfortable with this feature. However, what it really seems like they’re doing is preparing people for AR audio.
    Can you imagine. What happens if a person turns their iPad around to face away from them? It'll be Charles Manson all over again.
    SpamSandwichrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 27
    stukestuke Posts: 123member
    Any chance these changes will be an upgradable feature for current owners of the Pro?
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 27
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,784member
    Wow, the power of auto-suggestion.  I had my Airpod Pros in listening to the KeyNote and when they did the piece on the spatial surround sound the audio seemed to change during the demo and I swear it was all around me!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 27
    MacProMacPro Posts: 19,784member
    stuke said:
    Any chance these changes will be an upgradable feature for current owners of the Pro?
    Yeah, I wondered that too.  Listening, it seemed to be inferred it was a software update, not new hardware so perhaps it is built in already.  Fingers crossed.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 12 of 27
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,089member
    MacPro said:
    stuke said:
    Any chance these changes will be an upgradable feature for current owners of the Pro?
    Yeah, I wondered that too.  Listening, it seemed to be inferred it was a software update, not new hardware so perhaps it is built in already.  Fingers crossed.
    Pretty sure it's an upgrade to existing devices. This wasn't a hardware keynote. 
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 27
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 2,089member

    MacPro said:
    Wow, the power of auto-suggestion.  I had my Airpod Pros in listening to the KeyNote and when they did the piece on the spatial surround sound the audio seemed to change during the demo and I swear it was all around me!
    Binaural audio has been a real thing for a long time (apparently first with the théâtrophone in 1881). Search the term binaural audio on the internets and you'll find examples of 'spatial audio' that will work with whatever headphones or earbuds you already have. The innovation here is the detection of head movements and on-the-fly computations that will let you move around within the aural 'space.' They couldn't do that in 1881.
    edited June 2020 elijahgwatto_cobra
  • Reply 14 of 27
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 12,955member
    finally! since Day 1 i never understood why APs didn’t auto-switch to the device I had on and was using. Especially if I was no where near the last used device. 
    MacProrazorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 27
    XedXed Posts: 2,700member
    finally! since Day 1 i never understood why APs didn’t auto-switch to the device I had on and was using. Especially if I was no where near the last used device. 
    I had assumed that was the case when they came out, but I've never been able to get any headphones with the W or H series chips to auto switch. At least it knows which devices I own via iCloud syncing.
    razorpitwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 27
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 6,447member
    This is totally a setup for AR/VR audio, beyond movies and gaming on flat screens. This is how audio works with existing sets like PSVR where sounds emanate from fixed points in space while you are the one changing your distance and orientation to those sources. It's incredible. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 27
    joeljrichardsjoeljrichards Posts: 23unconfirmed, member
    Xed said:
    I hope this comes to PowerBeats Pro as AirPods Pro aren't comfortable for me.
    Prob depends whether they have a gyroscope and accelerometer. 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 18 of 27
    XedXed Posts: 2,700member
    Xed said:
    I hope this comes to PowerBeats Pro as AirPods Pro aren't comfortable for me.
    Prob depends whether they have a gyroscope and accelerometer. 
    Yeah, I doubt that's an option with the current ones. I should've been more clear about wanting this with the next generation Powerbeats Pro.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 27
    super excited!
     Question though, will this be similar to Audeze's Mobius headset?.. it sounds similar to what they are doing but not sure if this is something else as the Mobius is marketed as a 'gaming' headset.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 20 of 27
    fred1fred1 Posts: 1,122member
    AppleZulu said:
    MacPro said:
    stuke said:
    Any chance these changes will be an upgradable feature for current owners of the Pro?
    Yeah, I wondered that too.  Listening, it seemed to be inferred it was a software update, not new hardware so perhaps it is built in already.  Fingers crossed.
    Pretty sure it's an upgrade to existing devices. This wasn't a hardware keynote. 
    That's my understanding as well.  Especially since they didn't say anything about new AirPods Pro.  
    watto_cobra
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