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Spatial audio in Apple Music makes it sound like music is surrounding you — here’s how to try it

Apple rolled out a really cool new Dolby Atmos surround sound feature to Apple Music this week that might help it attract and keep subscribers as it competes with streaming music leader Spotify.

Dolby Atmos spatial audio makes it feel a bit more like music is surrounding you while using headphones, instead of just piping into your left and right ears. Songs with Dolby Atmos are available for free, so long as you’re already an Apple Music subscriber. Dolby Atmos is also available through Amazon Music HD and TIDAL subscriptions, while Deezer uses Sony’s competing version, 360 Reality Audio, for its Deezer HiFi service. Spotify doesn’t yet have a Dolby Atmos option.

I’m not an audiophile, and I can’t usually tell the difference between some of the higher-quality tracks music services have started to roll out. But there’s a noticeable difference between regular stereo music and these new “Spatial Audio with support for Dolby Atmos” songs. At least, most of the time. The difference is more noticeable in some songs than others.

There are only thousands of tracks, out of the 75 million in Apple Music, with support for it right now, but Apple has some playlists that can show you what it’s capable of. And new albums will continue to add support while artists rework some older songs, too. 

It’s probably not enough alone to get people to subscribe to Apple Music — at least not yet — but it’s a nice added benefit for people who already have Apple Music to get more out of the service.

What is Dolby Atmos spatial audio?

Normally, when you listen to a song through headphones, you’re listening to stereo sound. It’s like when you have two speakers on the left and right of your TV. Dolby

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