Apple Music Spatial Audio launch event set for June 7

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited June 7
Apple appears to be rolling out the Apple Music Spatial Audio feature right after the WWDC 2021 keynote ends on Monday, with a video teasing a special event.




Apple announced Spatial Audio as a new addition to Apple Music alongside Lossless hi-fidelity music streaming in May, with the rollout to users said at the time to occur in June. It appears that for Spatial Audio at least, it will be arriving very soon.

An Apple Music video posted to Reddit has been discovered, called "Introducing Spatial Audio." The video invites viewers to "tune in at 12pm PT on June 7 to watch this special event," which follows after the opening keynote of WWDC 2021.

Spatial Audio promises an immersive audio experience, built on top of Dolby Atmos. Rather than using fixed audio channels, Spatial Audio also takes into account the user's head movements, allowing the music sources to stay in positions relative to the user's body.

Apple previously said thousands of songs in its Apple Music catalog were available to listen to with Spatial Audio, with the number growing over time.

While Apple hasn't laid out what hardware is required for Spatial Audio to function, it is likely that it will need AirPods Pro or AirPods Max at a bare minimum.

Follow all of WWDC 2021 with comprehensive AppleInsider coverage of the week-long event from June 7 through June 11, including details on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, watchOS 8, macOS Monterey and more.

Stay on top of all Apple news right from your HomePod. Say, "Hey, Siri, play AppleInsider," and you'll get the latest AppleInsider Podcast. Or ask your HomePod mini for "AppleInsider Daily" instead and you'll hear a fast update direct from our news team. And, if you're interested in Apple-centric home automation, say "Hey, Siri, play HomeKit Insider," and you'll be listening to our newest specialized podcast in moments.
patchythepirate
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 26
    So excited!!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 2 of 26
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 679member
    Maybe ATV on HomePod where Dolby Atmos is now present….just hoping
    williamlondonforgot usernamewatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 26
    I’m hoping they drop AM Lossless with it as well. Impatiently waiting. 
    forgot usernamewatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 763member
    Will this event start right after the WWDC keynote or will we have to open another stream? I ask because I will be watching the keynote on my TV and it would seem weird if I have to close out of one stream to open another.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 26
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,103member
    Spatial Audio promises an immersive audio experience, built on top of Dolby Atmos. Rather than using fixed audio channels, Spatial Audio also takes into account the user's head movements, allowing the music sources to stay in positions relative to the user's body.”

    Based on what’s written here and in the linked explainer article, I think AI misunderstands what spatial audio is. The short end result of that is that I sincerely doubt that spatial audio for Apple Music will involve tracking head movements as it does when watching a movie with surround sound on your iPhone.

    This is because when watching a movie with spatial audio in your earbuds, the gyroscopes and sensors are orienting the surround sound to the device’s screen, not the listener’s body. The purpose of this is so that the sound of, say, an airplane flying overhead from behind your right shoulder and into the action on the screen will stay oriented to that screen even if you momentarily turn your head in reaction to hearing the airplane approach. This is a very cool effect, but it’s accomplished both with measurements from gyroscopes and accelerometers, along with some reliable assumptions about how you and your iPhone are positioned when you start watching. 

    When listening to music in your earbuds with no associated video on your iPhone, you’re a lot more likely to have the phone in your pocket or left on some furniture nearby. As a result, measuring your earbuds’ orientation to your iPhone becomes less than meaningless. The sensors in your AirPods Pro can detect motion, but as there are no sensors on your body, AirPods can’t determine on their own which way your head is turned. As such, there would be no way to consistently track head movements within an audio-only surround sound music track, without either assuming a listener is looking straight forward at the beginning of a track (an incorrect assumption much of the time) or by requiring an active user interaction confirming their starting position when pressing “play.” 

    So spatial audio for Apple Music is going to mean that there is indeed a three-dimensional sound field played back to you in your earbuds or earphones, whether from a 5.1 audio mix or from a Dolby Atmos source. It will be amazing. It almost certainly will not, however, involve tracking head movements for audio-only music. The surround sound field will stay oriented to your two ears, just as stereo does now. “Spatial audio” itself just refers to the technology that enables three-dimensional sound to be played back through two earphones or earbuds. The technological feat here is simulating the surround effect achieved with a much older recording concept known as binaural audio.
    edited June 6 gatorguyJapheyStrangeDaysseanjfastasleepapplebynatureCGwatto_cobra
  • Reply 6 of 26
    sloaahsloaah Posts: 6member
    @AppleZulu - I’m not sure you’re correct on this. 

    First, the headphones themselves only have individual speaker elements, so there is no integrated spatial element to position the sound sources. 

    Second, even if there were, your ears are effectively stereo receivers. The spatial element is produced through three mechanisms: (1) differences in volume between left and right ears; (2) difference in sound delays between the sound reaching one ear or the other; and (3) head movements which allow the brain to place the sounds subconsciously. 

    (1) already exists in stereo sound. (2) can similarly be mastered in stereo mixes if you don’t have to take (3) into account. No new technology is needed for that; but it’s not really worth doing without (3). 

    So in effect, (3) - spatial audio in terms of head movements - must be part of the Apple spatial music offering. Rather than positioning relative to a screen, the headphones could set forwards as the direction you’re facing when you start the music. It’s easy to exclude the tilt movement of your head as you look down at your phone.

    Source: I teach virtual reality filmmaking at university Masters level. Whilst I specialise in image not sound, I’m 99% sure of the above…
    edited June 6 gregoriusmforgot usernamewatto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 26
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 2,035member
    This is a little disappointing because I was hoping the Second event was just for hardware introduction because the macOS and iPadOS changes were so big.
  • Reply 8 of 26
    JinTechJinTech Posts: 763member
    k2kw said:
    This is a little disappointing because I was hoping the Second event was just for hardware introduction because the macOS and iPadOS changes were so big.
    There might be audio related hardware announcements. We’ll see!
    williamlondon
  • Reply 9 of 26
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,103member
    sloaah said:
    @AppleZulu - I’m not sure you’re correct on this. 

    First, the headphones themselves only have individual speaker elements, so there is no integrated spatial element to position the sound sources. 

    Second, even if there were, your ears are effectively stereo receivers. The spatial element is produced through three mechanisms: (1) differences in volume between left and right ears; (2) difference in sound delays between the sound reaching one ear or the other; and (3) head movements which allow the brain to place the sounds subconsciously. 

    (1) already exists in stereo sound. (2) can similarly be mastered in stereo mixes if you don’t have to take (3) into account. No new technology is needed for that; but it’s not really worth doing without (3). 

    So in effect, (3) - spatial audio in terms of head movements - must be part of the Apple spatial music offering. Rather than positioning relative to a screen, the headphones could set forwards as the direction you’re facing when you start the music. It’s easy to exclude the tilt movement of your head as you look down at your phone.

    Source: I teach virtual reality filmmaking at university Masters level. Whilst I specialise in image not sound, I’m 99% sure of the above…
    Look up binaural audio.  I provided a link before. Or better yet, watch a movie with Atmos Audio on your iPhone with a pair of AirPods Pro, but hold your head very, very still. The sound will be all around you. That’s spatial audio. They’re processing the Atmos signal into what is effectively binaural output, which your brain interprets as 3D sound. It will be possible to listen to spatial audio Dolby Atmos music tracks with standard headphones. There’s probably not a good way to make the motion sensing thing work when not orienting to an iPhone screen, for the reasons previously mentioned. Apple doesn’t like putting out something that doesn’t “just work,” and orienting audio-only sound without relating it to a screen probably wouldn’t work reliably well enough to get the Apple stamp of approval. We’ll find out for certain on Monday. 
    applebynatureforgot username
  • Reply 10 of 26
    Apple has clearly stated that basically all headphones will work with spacial audio. How is this so confusing? @AppleZulu is correct.
    edited June 6
  • Reply 11 of 26
    fastasleepfastasleep Posts: 5,477member
    k2kw said:
    This is a little disappointing because I was hoping the Second event was just for hardware introduction because the macOS and iPadOS changes were so big.
    Getting disappointed by something you yourself made up sure is weird. 

  • Reply 12 of 26
    jfeth001jfeth001 Posts: 1member
    What would be significant in introducing such a function? If my head is turned to the right will I hear more drums and to the left more guitar? I seem to be missing the point of the reason to even take into account the person’s head movements when listening to Apple Music.
    williamlondon
  • Reply 13 of 26
    jfeth001 said:
    What would be significant in introducing such a function? If my head is turned to the right will I hear more drums and to the left more guitar? I seem to be missing the point of the reason to even take into account the person’s head movements when listening to Apple Music.
    That's why that's not at all what this will be in Apple Music. There seems to be some confusion. It's spatial in that you will hear things in a 3d environment, rather than it sounding like coming from a set of stereo speakers, clever audio engineering, PURELY on the mixing side (nothing to do with the headphones), can reproduce a virtual headspace like traditionally mixed music does not deliver. I have not tried it yet, so it's yet to be seen how dramatic of an effect there will be, but I'd wager it's going to sound good.
    This is different than the spatial audio feature/gimmick? of sound moving when you turn your head while watching something on a screen. They're using the same name, but there are different subsets of it. Therefore any old pair of headphones will be able to reproduce the new spatial audio.
    edited June 6 jfeth001forgot username
  • Reply 14 of 26
    It may be a long shot, but I’m hoping this means we get an Apple TV sound bar with integrated FaceTime cameras and tracking. Would be amazing. 
  • Reply 15 of 26
    bestkeptsecretbestkeptsecret Posts: 4,006member
    This sounds like Holophonics and Q-Sound all over again!
  • Reply 16 of 26
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,992member
    Are you old enough to remember all the excitement about Quad sound back in the 70's, what I'd consider one of the earliest "spatial audio" efforts? 
  • Reply 17 of 26
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,103member
    jfeth001 said:
    What would be significant in introducing such a function? If my head is turned to the right will I hear more drums and to the left more guitar? I seem to be missing the point of the reason to even take into account the person’s head movements when listening to Apple Music.
    That's why that's not at all what this will be in Apple Music. There seems to be some confusion. It's spatial in that you will hear things in a 3d environment, rather than it sounding like coming from a set of stereo speakers, clever audio engineering, PURELY on the mixing side (nothing to do with the headphones), can reproduce a virtual headspace like traditionally mixed music does not deliver. I have not tried it yet, so it's yet to be seen how dramatic of an effect there will be, but I'd wager it's going to sound good.
    This is different than the spatial audio feature/gimmick? of sound moving when you turn your head while watching something on a screen. They're using the same name, but there are different subsets of it. Therefore any old pair of headphones will be able to reproduce the new spatial audio.
    This is as significant as the jump from mono to stereo over fifty years ago. Music mixed for surround sound really is amazing, but it has always been a niche thing in the past, because it always required spending extra money to buy specialized hardware and physical media to play it. 

    Now, for the first time, there will be millions of people who already have the hardware in their pockets, and as soon as the content is switched on in Apple Music, it will be available at no extra cost to millions of Apple Music subscribers. 

    As soon as you hear it, you’ll get it. 
    edited June 7
  • Reply 18 of 26
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,103member
    gatorguy said:
    Are you old enough to remember all the excitement about Quad sound back in the 70's, what I'd consider one of the earliest "spatial audio" efforts? 
    They mixed Dark Side of the Moon for quad back in the 70s. They reissued that along with a new 5.1 mix on BluRay audio in a box set more recently. Both sound amazing. Hopefully those will be available on Apple Music later today and  a lot more people will finally be able to hear that. 
  • Reply 19 of 26
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,992member
    AppleZulu said:
    jfeth001 said:
    What would be significant in introducing such a function? If my head is turned to the right will I hear more drums and to the left more guitar? I seem to be missing the point of the reason to even take into account the person’s head movements when listening to Apple Music.
    That's why that's not at all what this will be in Apple Music. There seems to be some confusion. It's spatial in that you will hear things in a 3d environment, rather than it sounding like coming from a set of stereo speakers, clever audio engineering, PURELY on the mixing side (nothing to do with the headphones), can reproduce a virtual headspace like traditionally mixed music does not deliver. I have not tried it yet, so it's yet to be seen how dramatic of an effect there will be, but I'd wager it's going to sound good.
    This is different than the spatial audio feature/gimmick? of sound moving when you turn your head while watching something on a screen. They're using the same name, but there are different subsets of it. Therefore any old pair of headphones will be able to reproduce the new spatial audio.
    This is as significant as the jump from mono to stereo over fifty years ago. Music mixed for surround sound really is amazing, but it has always been a niche thing in the past, because it always required spending extra money to buy specialized hardware and physical media to play it. 

    Now, for the first time, there will be millions of people who already have the hardware in their pockets, and as soon as the content is switched on in Apple Music, it will be available at no extra cost to millions of Apple Music subscribers. 

    As soon as you hear it, you’ll get it. 
    I've been very pleasantly surprised by the HD Radio Sonos stations. Very expansive for something so simple and small as a Beam and two SL's. It's a good time for lovers of good music with great sound.
  • Reply 20 of 26
    macapfelmacapfel Posts: 556member
    How is this different from 'Digital Master'? Because this is something I discovered today on my iPhone, and haven't seen before.
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