Apple Music defaults to non-Spatial Audio downloads, forces deletion or re-download

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited June 9
An obvious but potentially overlooked side note to Apple's launch of Spatial Audio on Apple Music is the fact that users will need to re-download tracks mastered in the new Dolby Atmos format as they slowly trickle onto the streaming service.

Spatial Audio


Apple Music subscribers who have massive offline libraries -- and who want to enjoy Spatial Audio -- will soon be faced with the bothersome task of re-downloading Dolby Atmos tracks.

As noted by Apple in a support document updated on Wednesday, users who want to listen to a Spatial Audio version of a song they already downloaded from Apple Music will need to manually delete and re-download said track. The resulting download includes both Dolby Atmos and stereo versions of a song.

Making the process more of a hassle is Apple Music's handling of downloaded tracks. For now, the app defaults to existing on-device versions and offers no alternative to stream the new Spatial Audio mix. That means listeners are forced to delete the track, at which point they can either re-download it or stream without saving for offline listening.

Apple notifies users of the policy in a pop-up that appears when attempting to play an already downloaded track that now supports Spatial Audio. In playlists, like the recently posted Spatial Audio Hits and Made for Spatial Audio, downloaded tracks appear with a small icon to denote that an on-device version exists.

Users also need to ensure that they are downloading Dolby Atmos content. On iOS, this accomplished by navigating to Settings > Music and turning on "Download in Dolby Atmos." The same can be done on Mac by selecting "Download on Dolby Atmos" in the General section of Music > Preferences.

Most listeners are unlikely to encounter the issue with only "thousands" of tracks currently available in Spatial Audio, but more people will be impacted as Apple builds out its Dolby Atmos catalog.

Announced in May, Spatial Audio for Apple Music is proprietary format built with Dolby Atmos technology that delivers an immersive listening experience by simulating a 3D audio space. The feature launched on Monday.

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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    One potential workaround for this is to utilize the Smart Playlist feature on the Music/iTunes app on your Mac/PC. I have this set up for myself so when I get a new phone, it’s less cumbersome to re-download all my music back to my phone one by one.

    To my knowledge at the moment, there’s no way to download all your music in one shot. But with a smart playlist, you can have Apple Music automatically add new songs you add to your library to a specific playlist and then download the entire playlist in one shot from Apple Music.

    Using this method, you could theoretically delete all the downloads from your iPhone in the settings app and then download the playlist in one go from the music app, and any tracks that are available in the higher quality formats will be the ones downloaded.

    And given that it’s a smart playlist, any time you add a song to your library, it will automatically be added to the playlist too. You don’t have to do a thing! Hopefully this helps!
    JWSC
  • Reply 2 of 18
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,958member
    I just opened my playlists, deleted and re downloaded each playlist globally from the top of the screen. Wasn’t too hard, took about a minute per playlist on home wifi (250Mbps).
    edited June 9 gregoriusmJaphey
  • Reply 3 of 18
    JWSCJWSC Posts: 903member
    entropys said:
    I just opened my playlists, deleted and re downloaded each playlist globally from the top of the screen. Wasn’t too hard, took about a minute per playlist on home wifi (250Mbps).
    Damn city whippersnappers with their high speed internet (he says with jealous snark) !
    pulseimages
  • Reply 4 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,013member
    This is another one of those things where you can’t make everyone happy. Imagine the furor if Apple had defaulted to automatically downloading and replacing stereo files with Atmos files. How dare they reach into my music library and replace files I wanted to keep as they were? They used up bandwidth and gobbled up storage space with these huge Atmos files! It’s probably better that they defaulted the way they did. 
    edited June 10 pscooter63StrangeDays
  • Reply 5 of 18
    entropysentropys Posts: 2,958member
    Yeah I am on a 6 month special. I will cut back when I have to pay for it as the difference with 100Mbps is not really noticeable. I suppose if you were constantly doing 18 GB files a wider pipe is needed, but if you are at most doing say three streams and a game at the same time100 Mbps doesn’t even break a sweat. If only a couple of people  in the house I reckon 50 would be plenty.
    edited June 10
  • Reply 6 of 18
    CiaranFCiaranF Posts: 12member
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    badmonkpulseimages
  • Reply 7 of 18
    Glad the new downloads are "fat": I was fearing a situation like those awful "remastered for stereo" versions of old mono recordings we've been putting up with for decades.
  • Reply 8 of 18
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 975member
    AppleZulu said:
    This is another one of those things where you can’t make everyone happy. Imagine the furor if Apple had defaulted to automatically downloading and replacing stereo files with Atmos files. How dare they reach into my music library and replace files I wanted to keep as they were? They used up bandwidth and gobbled up storage space with these huge Atmos files! It’s probably better that they defaulted the way they did. 
    Yes blame the late period U2 promotional uproar of the past.  Someone will find a reason to complain.
    Beats
  • Reply 9 of 18
    badmonkbadmonk Posts: 975member
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    luxuriant said:
    Glad the new downloads are "fat": I was fearing a situation like those awful "remastered for stereo" versions of old mono recordings we've been putting up with for decades.


    Old school mono rocks.  Do not fear it.  All the sound everywhere at once.
    StrangeDays
  • Reply 10 of 18
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,605member
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I ran the spatial audio (SA) demo built into the setup using AirPods Pro and couldn’t really discern a difference to be perfectly honest. I’ll have to find a SA encoded track of something I’m familiar with to see if it makes a difference for me. As other commenters have noted, a great song that I connect with done in mono is still a thing of beauty. I also like bootleg and live tracks (minus the crowd noise) as well as exquisitely produced music of course, so the production value as a contributor to my enjoyment of music is highly variable. If SA brings another variable into the mix, that’s great, so I’ll wait and see what lies ahead when artists start taking advantage of SA in the studio. 

    I imagine spatial audio will make a world of difference with games and movies. 
  • Reply 11 of 18
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I listened to a few tracks and they sounded horrible. 
    CiaranF
  • Reply 12 of 18
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 657member
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    Agreed…..but w 2 HomePod the big difference is very noticeable. I have to closed my eyes sometimes. Sad that Apple discontinued HomePod.
    Beats
  • Reply 13 of 18
    thedbathedba Posts: 645member
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I listened to a few tracks and they sounded horrible. 
    I saw a difference on the Marvin Gaye's "What's going on" with Zane Lowe's comments superimposed. 
    Mono --> Stereo was noticeable 
    Stereo --> Spatial not as much, but I wouldn't say that it sounded worse than stereo. 

    I have the Beats Studio 3 which is probably not the best set of headphones to sample this. 
    dewme
  • Reply 14 of 18
    macplusplusmacplusplus Posts: 2,028member

    ...
    Apple Music subscribers who have massive offline libraries -- and who want to enjoy Spatial Audio -- will soon be faced with the bothersome task of re-downloading Dolby Atmos tracks.


    Delete all your downloaded music at once by going to Settings / Music / Downloaded Music / All Tracks then edit and delete.

    See? It is not bothersome at all.
    edited June 10
  • Reply 15 of 18
    mknelsonmknelson Posts: 736member
    thedba said:
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I listened to a few tracks and they sounded horrible. 
    I saw a difference on the Marvin Gaye's "What's going on" with Zane Lowe's comments superimposed. 
    Mono --> Stereo was noticeable 
    Stereo --> Spatial not as much, but I wouldn't say that it sounded worse than stereo. 

    I have the Beats Studio 3 which is probably not the best set of headphones to sample this. 
    Interesting to see how it's working/not so much for different headphones.

    On my PowerBeats Pro it was definitely noticeable through all 3 stages. In general I thought the Dolby tracks sounded better, but there was a definite change in overall sound - some instruments seemed more prominent, others pushed back. In Freebird there were slightly unpleasant guitar fingering sounds I had never noticed before.

    I tried using some RHA T20I wired earbuds hooked up via a FiiO i1 lightning DAC (supposedly lossless compatible) and nope - it was like most of the instrumentation just vanished! I didn't have my Apple Lightning headphone adapter handy for a comparison.
  • Reply 16 of 18
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,255member
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I listened to a few tracks and they sounded horrible. 
    It's been hit or miss for me. Some tracks sounded good, but quite a few sounded bad to me. 
    Beats
  • Reply 17 of 18
    gatorguygatorguy Posts: 22,874member
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I listened to a few tracks and they sounded horrible. 
    It's been hit or miss for me. Some tracks sounded good, but quite a few sounded bad to me. 
    I mentioned in another thread that comparing another music services version of The Weekend's Blinding Lights to Apple's new promoted version in their demo catalog wasn't impressive. There was little discernable difference, certainly not the "this changes music forever" moment that Apple said to expect. 
    boltsfan17muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 18 of 18
    boltsfan17boltsfan17 Posts: 2,255member
    gatorguy said:
    CiaranF said:
    Tried listening to a few songs with Dolby Atmos and didn’t like it. With AirPods Pro I found it sounded more mono and actually prefer the stereo version. Anyone else agree?
    I listened to a few tracks and they sounded horrible. 
    It's been hit or miss for me. Some tracks sounded good, but quite a few sounded bad to me. 
    I mentioned in another thread that comparing another music services version of The Weekend's Blinding Lights to Apple's new promoted version in their demo catalog wasn't impressive. There was little discernable difference, certainly not the "this changes music forever" moment that Apple said to expect. 
    I actually had high hopes for this. I've been pretty impressed watching movies on my iPad while traveling using the Spatial Audio on my AirPods Max. Funny you mention Blinding Lights. That's the first song I listened to when Atmos first became available. I really didn't notice much of a difference. Once I get home, I plan on testing this out on my Atmos surround set up to see if its any better. Some of the songs I've listened to, it's hard to explain. It sounds as if the vocals got a big boost, but they are drowning out the other instruments. It just didn't sound very good to me at all.
    muthuk_vanalingam
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