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Do you need AirPods to listen to Dolby Atmos in Apple Music?

AirPods
AirPods (Image credit: iMore)

Do you need AirPods to listen to Dolby Atmos in Apple Music?

Best answer: No. You can listen to Dolby Atmos in Apple Music with any headphones. If you listen to Apple Music with any pair of AirPods or modern Beats headphones, Dolby Atmos should automatically play if it's available. With any other headphones, you have to change the Dolby Atmos setting to "always-on."

What is Dolby Atmos?

With Dolby Atmos turned on, it's like listening to your music with surround sound. With stereo, you get left and right ear separation, but with Dolby Atmos, it actually feels like your music is surrounding you.

According to Apple,

Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary, immersive audio experience that enables artists to mix music, so the sound comes from all around and from above.

There are currently thousands of songs in Apple Music with Dolby Atmos, and Apple intends to eventually have its entire 75 million song catalog available. Dolby Atmos tracks are included in your Apple Music subscription for no additional charge.

What do I need to listen to Dolby Atmos in Apple Music?

The great news is you can use any pair of headphones to listen to Dolby Atmos in Apple Music. You will need to be on iOS 14.6 or above or MacOS 11.4 or above. The default setting for Dolby Atmos is "automatic," and with the "automatic" setting turned on, Apple with automatically play Dolby Atmos if it's available.

However, this will only work with AirPods, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, or Beats Solo Pro. It will also work with the built-in speakers of a modern iPhone, iPad, or Mac. If you want to use any other headphones with Apple Music to listen to Dolby Atmos, you will need to change the setting to "always-on." To do this:

  1. Go to settings.
  2. Tap music.
  3. Tap Dolby Atmos.
  4. Tap Always on.

That's all there is to it. You can jam out to tunes in Dolby Atmos with Apple Music.

How do I know I am listening to a Dolby Atmos track?

Dolby Atmos Apple Music

Dolby Atmos Apple Music (Image credit: iMore)

Songs with Dolby Atmos sound will have a Dolby Atmos symbol listed with the song in Apple Music. Apple has created playlists in categories such as Hits, R&B, Hip Hop, and Rock, with music only in Dolby Atmos, making it easy for you to find songs to listen to.

However, you will know when you listen to Dolby Atmos; your favorite songs will sound new again. I have been listening to the playlists that Apple created, and I am pleasantly surprised that most songs do sound different, and you get to enjoy them as if you are hearing them for the first time.

**Mark Goldschmitt** is the father of three boys and loves anything Apple. Born and raised in Queens, NY, and currently residing on Long Island, Mark is a lifelong New York Mets fan. {.end}