iOS 15 and macOS Monterey include option to simulate virtual spatial audio for all songs

Spatial Audio Apple Music
Spatial Audio Apple Music (Image credit: Apple)

What you need to know

  • Apple released its new Spatial Audio feature for Apple Music earlier this week.
  • It includes dozens of curated songs made using Dolby Atmos.
  • A new setting in iOS 15 will let users simulate the effect for all other content.

A new setting uncovered in iOS 15 will let users simulate a virtual spatial audio experience on Apple Music even if songs haven't been recorded using Dolby Atmos.

The new feature was spotted by a Reddit user in the iOS 15 beta:

I've been testing Apple Music's Dolby Atmos support and I just discovered a toggle in Control Center's volume slider for non-Atmos-supported tracks. It's called "Spatialize Stereo" and it does pretty much exactly what you'd guess. It takes a stereo audio mix and places it in a virtual spatial audio environment around you.The only instance I've seen of something like this before was when watching non-Atmos content in the TV app with spatial audio on. I remember trying to mess with settings to get music to play with the same treatment to no avail.I assumed that if they ever did this it would warrant at the very least a mention in a Keynote, but unless I completely missed it today I don't think they said anything about it!The greatest thing about this is that it supports EVERY audio track. Sure I'd pick Atmos Spatial Audio mixes over Spatialized Stereo every time, but for the moment there are only a dozen or so options for Atmos available on Apple Music, so this is such an amazing feature to have!

As the user notes, you can jump into the Control Center and toggle 'Spatialize Stereo', which takes a stereo mix and creates a virtual spatial audio environment. Apple has carefully curated a few hundred songs for its initial Spatial Audio launch, and these songs are marked with a 'Dolby Atmos' icon whilst playing. This new iOS 15 feature will let users enjoy some of the benefits of spatial audio on every song they listen to, although the experience won't quite be the same as listening to music recorded using Dolby Atmos. According to AppleInsider, the new feature is available on iOS 15, iPadOS 15, macOS Monterey and will only work with Apple's AirPods Max and AirPods Pro.

Stephen Warwick
News Editor

Stephen Warwick has written about Apple for five years at iMore and previously elsewhere. He covers all of iMore's latest breaking news regarding all of Apple's products and services, both hardware and software. Stephen has interviewed industry experts in a range of fields including finance, litigation, security, and more. He also specializes in curating and reviewing audio hardware and has experience beyond journalism in sound engineering, production, and design. Before becoming a writer Stephen studied Ancient History at University and also worked at Apple for more than two years. Stephen is also a host on the iMore show, a weekly podcast recorded live that discusses the latest in breaking Apple news, as well as featuring fun trivia about all things Apple. Follow him on Twitter @stephenwarwick9