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How to Set Up and Use Spatial Audio on iPhone Running iOS 16+

by Subham Raj
Spatial Audio Feature Image

Spatial Audio is one of those features that make the Apple ecosystem shine brighter than Samsung’s or Android’s in general. Apple introduced this a while ago with the iOS 15, but few people know about this wizardry of Apple. Once you set up and start listening to any media with Spatial Audio settings enabled on your iPhone running iOS 16, you can never go back to the traditional way. That will feel boring and monotonous.

So What Is Spatial Audio Anyway

Spatial Audio is an amalgam of Apple and Dolby’s latest audio technology that enables the experience of fully immersive 3-dimensional sound when paired with supported headphones. We all know that Dolby Atmos is a popular audio format that has been used by various filmmakers for enhancing the movie’s audio experience. This is the same audio format but mixed with Apple’s head tracking algorithm, which enables the artists and creators to put a sound or an instrument in the 3-dimensional space at a particular coordinate.

What Does Spatial Audio Feel Like

Explaining what it feels like to listen in Spatial Audio is a bit challenging on paper, but let me demonstrate it to you with an example. Suppose you are sitting comfortably on a chair, and there’s a big speaker one meter away from you and you are facing the speaker. Now imagine the speaker playing music and close your eyes. Next, turn your head left and right, and you’ll feel the music coming from the same direction, despite you turning your head left and right. Now imagine the same situation with your AirPods playing music.

That’s the magic I was talking about earlier. No matter, when and where you turn your head, you’ll feel enveloped with a cloud of music in the 3-dimensional space. Let’s take a look at how to enable Spatial Audio on your iPhone.

Note: Spatial Audio will be available to all the AirPods and Beats headphones with H1 and W1 chips, so please choose your headphone accordingly to experience the Spatial Audio.

How to Set Up Spatial Audio

You will have to enable the feature manually as it is not turned on by default. The reason is that spatial audio needs to be tailored for individual users based on the shape of their ears. It needs to track dynamic head movements to provide a theater-like sound experience where the music seems to be coming at you from all directions.

1. Navigate to the Settings icon on your home screen or go to App Library. Tap on Settings and then AirPods options just below your Apple ID to open the AirPods settings. Tap on Personalised Spatial Audio.

Note: Ensure your AirPods are connected to your iPhone, otherwise AirPods options won’t be visible in Settings.

2. Tap on Personalise Spatial Audio. Then tap on Continue to proceed.

3. Tap on Start Front View Capture. It will ask you to move your head just like setting up Face ID. Once the capture is complete, tap on Continue.

Note: Before capturing your facial data for Spatial Audio, please remove AirPods from your ear. Otherwise, you might get an error while capturing the facial data.

4. It will ask you to capture your left ear, once the left ear is captured, it will ask you to do the same for your right ear. Once both ears are captured, tap on Continue.

Fun Fact: Your iPhone uses the dot projector housed in the notch or in the Dynamic Island to precisely map your facial features. So that it can be used to personalize the audio experience just for you.

5. Once the face and both ears are captured, a screen will appear saying that you’ve set up the personalized spatial audio. Tap on Done. Swipe up from the bottom to go to the home screen, and then play any song or music on Apple Music or Spotify.

6. Swipe down from the right side of the screen to open Control Center. Long press on the volume slider to expand it. Tap on Spatial Audio near the bottom side of the screen.

Note: If the Spatial Audio option is greyed out and it’s showing “Spatial Audio Not Playing”. Then go to Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual. Then turn off the toggle for Mono Audio.

7. Spatial Audio option will expand with two options — Fixed and Head Tracked. Tap on Head Tracked to enable it. That’s it, now you can enjoy the new music experience on your AirPods and your iPhone.

Fun Fact: You can also feel the Spatial Audio in FaceTime calls and in the Apple TV app.

Must Read: How to Remove Search Bar (Spotlight) From Bottom of iPhone Home Screen.


1. Do 3rd party music and movie apps support Spatial Audio?

Yes. Most apps like Spotify, YouTube, Tidal, Netflix, HBO Max, Hulu, Disney +, and VLC media player support Spatial Audio.

2. Do other Bluetooth headphones support Spatial Audio?

No. Spatial Audio is supported by only Apple’s Airpods and Beats headphones which have W1 and H1 chips in them as of now.

3. Which iPhone and iOS support Spatial Audio?

According to Apple, you can enjoy Spatial Audio on iPhone 7 or later if you have iOS 15.1 or later installed.

Final Thoughts on Spatial Audio

Once you experience the Spatial Audio on your AirPods, you can’t go back to the normal boring way of listening to music. With Spatial Audio, Apple has really set a benchmark for other phones and headphone manufacturers. Spatial Audio is truly a mesmerizing experience for music and movie lovers out there. If you have been watching and listening to content without Spatial Audio just like me, this is your wake-up call to up your listening game. iOS also recently launched a unique feature like Spatial Audio called Photo cutout in which you can pick a subject and share it with your friends easily.

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