Common Spatial Audio Problems & Causes in Android

Spatial audio, also known as 3D audio, refers to sound that appears to come from a specific direction or location. It creates the illusion of sounds existing in a three-dimensional space around the listener [1]. This is achieved through audio processing techniques like head-related transfer functions (HRTFs), which simulate how sounds reach the listener’s ears from different positions.

Spatial audio works by applying subtle delays and frequency shaping to sounds to match what the listener would hear naturally. For example, a sound coming from the left will arrive at the left ear slightly sooner and louder than the right ear. The listener’s brain interprets these audio cues to determine direction and distance.

There are several key benefits of spatial audio compared to traditional stereo audio:

  • Increased realism – Sounds feel like they are coming from distinct positions rather than appearing inside the listener’s head.
  • Improved immersion – The 3D soundfield surrounds the listener, making them feel present in the environment.
  • Enhanced directionality – Locating sounds and detecting their movement is much easier.

Overall, spatial audio aims to deliver a more natural, lifelike listening experience and heighten users’ sense of presence in virtual or augmented environments.

Common Spatial Audio Issues

Many Android users experience problems with spatial audio failing to work as expected. Some of the most common issues include:

Audio Cutting In and Out

A common complaint is audio that cuts in and out when using spatial audio features 1. The audio may work briefly but then cut out completely before returning again. This intermittent problem makes spatial audio unusable and frustrating.

Echoing/Reverb Effect

Some users notice an unnatural echoing or reverb effect when trying to use spatial audio 2. This may sound like the audio is in a tunnel or large empty room. It takes away from the realistic 3D positioning spatial audio is meant to provide.

Inaccurate 3D Positioning

The 3D positioning that is central to spatial audio often fails to work properly on Android. Sounds that should come from specific directions end up sounding flat or coming from the wrong position 3. This destroys the pinpoint accuracy and realism that make spatial audio so immersive.

Audio Cutting In and Out

One of the most common spatial audio issues on Android devices is audio that cuts in and out. This is often caused by Bluetooth connectivity problems between your Android device and your Bluetooth headphones or speakers.

Bluetooth connections can sometimes become unstable, leading to intermittent audio dropouts. This seems to happen more frequently with spatial audio, which requires more bandwidth and a robust Bluetooth connection. If you notice spatial audio cutting out occasionally, it’s likely due to interference or range issues with Bluetooth.

Potential fixes include:

  • Reset your Bluetooth headphones/speakers by turning them off and on again.
  • Forget the Bluetooth connection on your Android device and re-pair your headphones/speakers.
  • Check for any software updates for your Bluetooth headphones/speakers and install if available.
  • Move closer to your Bluetooth device to improve connection strength.
  • Turn off any other nearby Bluetooth devices to reduce interference.

If problems persist, your Bluetooth headphones may have compatibility issues with the spatial audio codecs used on your Android device. You may need to use wired headphones or upgrade your Bluetooth headphones to resolve any cutting in and out.


One common issue with spatial audio on Android devices is echoing or reverb. This effect makes it sound like there is an artificial echo or reverb added to the audio, creating an unnatural listening experience.

Echoing and reverb with spatial audio is often caused by an audio delay between the left and right channels. Spatial audio works by applying subtle delays and phase adjustments between each channel to create a sense of space and directionality. However, if this delay is too pronounced, it can result in an audible echo or reverb effect.

According to users on Reddit, spatial audio effects like THX Spatial Audio can sometimes introduce unnatural echo if the settings are not properly calibrated for the device and headphones.

The main solution is to adjust the audio delay settings, either in the operating system’s accessibility settings or in the spatial audio app being used. Reducing the inter-channel delay can help align the left and right channels and eliminate the echo. Some spatial audio apps like Windows Sonic allow you to tweak these delay values.

It may require some trial and error to find the optimal delay values that provide a sense of space without echo. Testing with different styles of audio content can help determine if the delay settings need further adjustment.

Inaccurate 3D Positioning

One common issue with spatial audio on Android devices is inaccurate 3D positioning of sounds. This means that when you move your head while listening with headphones, the audio does not shift realistically in 3D space. Instead, sounds may seem disconnected from their intended position, making the immersive experience less convincing.

A major cause of inaccurate 3D positioning is incorrect headphone measurements. Spatial audio relies on having accurate information about the acoustics of the headphones being used in order to simulate 3D space properly. If the headphones have not been measured correctly, the audio engine will not be able to accurately place sounds.

Many Android devices now include built-in headphone measurement tools during initial setup. However, if this process was rushed or done improperly, it can lead to inaccurate data. Re-measuring your specific headphones properly through the setup process can help fix 3D positioning issues. This allows the spatial audio to be tuned precisely for your headphone model and get the 3D effect working as intended.1

Additionally, some headphone models may simply not be optimized for spatial audio playback on certain devices. Using headphones specifically tuned for 3D/spatial audio can help improve the positioning accuracy compared to traditional stereo headphones. Checking headphone compatibility lists from your device manufacturer is advised.

Software/App Issues

Certain audio apps can cause problems with spatial audio on Android devices. Apps that are not optimized for spatial audio may have bugs that lead to cutting out, echoing, and inaccurate 3D positioning. For example, some users have reported problems with Spotify’s spatial audio implementation on Android causing audio to randomly cut out (Source).

The best solution for buggy audio app issues is to try updating the app to the latest version. Developers often release fixes and optimizations in app updates that can resolve spatial audio problems. If that doesn’t work, try uninstalling and reinstalling the problematic app. You can also test using different audio apps, like Apple Music, YouTube Music or Tidal, to see if the issues persist. Many music services now support spatial audio, so switching apps may provide a better experience.

Overall, spatial audio is still a developing technology on Android. As apps continue to add support and update their implementations, the functionality and stability should improve over time. But for now, troubleshooting software issues by trying different apps, reinstalls and updates is key.

Hardware Limitations

Older Android phones often lack the processing power required to properly render spatial audio experiences. This is because spatial audio involves complex positional calculations and audio processing that demand significant computational resources. As a result, many older devices simply can’t keep up, leading to audio glitches, lag, and other issues.

The only real solution is to upgrade your Android device to a newer model with a more powerful processor. Chipsets starting with the Snapdragon 865 and above generally have enough horsepower to handle advanced spatial audio. For example, phones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 series and newer contain dedicated audio chips and custom software to optimize spatial audio performance. So purchasing a recent flagship Android phone is the best way to take full advantage of spatial audio’s 3D soundscapes.

In summary, spatial audio performance is tightly coupled to your Android device’s hardware capabilities. If you’re experiencing choppy audio or other problems, it likely indicates an underpowered phone rather than a software bug. Upgrading to a phone with modern specs specially tuned for spatial audio is the most straightforward fix.

Headphone Compatibility Issues

One of the most common issues with spatial audio on Android devices is lack of headphone compatibility. Spatial audio requires advanced driver technology in headphones to properly replicate 3D sound positioning. Many standard earbuds or headphones simply don’t have the capability to support spatial audio features.

According to Android Central, spatial audio requires headphones with support for head tracking and dynamic head-related transfer functions (HRTFs) in order to simulate 3D sound. Basic earbuds without these capabilities may default to regular stereo audio or experience other issues like inconsistent 3D positioning and audio cutouts.

The solution is to ensure your headphones specifically mention spatial, 3D or “surround sound” support. Top options include the Sony WH-1000XM5, Samsung Galaxy Buds Pro 2, and Apple AirPods Pro/Max which are optimized for spatial audio on their respective platforms.

Checking for official spatial audio certification or support from your headphone manufacturer is key before purchasing headphones to use with this advanced audio feature on your Android device.

Incorrect Audio Settings

One common cause of spatial audio issues on Android devices is incorrect audio output settings. Spatial audio relies on higher quality audio formats like Dolby Atmos or Sony 360 Reality Audio to deliver immersive 3D sound. If the audio output settings on your Android device are configured for a lower quality format, bitrate, or sample rate, then spatial audio effects may not work properly or at all.

For example, if your Android device’s audio output is set to 16-bit/44.1kHz stereo instead of 24-bit/48kHz multichannel, you won’t get the full spatial audio experience even if you’re using compatible headphones. The lower bitrate and sample rate limits the audio quality and channels available. Similarly, using an incompatible audio codec like MP3 instead of AAC or LDAC can prevent proper decoding of spatial audio.

The fix is to adjust your Android device’s audio output settings to use a compatible higher quality format, bitrate, and sample rate. The Android developer guide recommends using 24-bit/48kHz linear PCM output or better for optimal spatial audio playback [1]. You may need to enable developer options on your device to access these audio settings. Choosing the highest quality options for format and sample rate will help ensure your Android device can fully take advantage of spatial audio capabilities.


Spatial audio is an exciting new technology that can greatly enhance entertainment experiences by providing immersive, surround sound audio. However, there are still some common issues that can arise when trying to implement spatial audio, especially on Android devices.

As covered in this article, problems like audio cutting out, echoing, inaccurate 3D positioning, software conflicts, hardware limitations, and headphone incompatibility can prevent spatial audio from working as intended. Careful troubleshooting and proper setup are key to resolving these problems and achieving the full impact of spatial audio.

Looking ahead, spatial audio has an extremely bright future as the technology matures and expands across more platforms. Android device makers are already working to optimize compatibility and expand hardware support for spatial audio features. Developers are finding new ways to implement spatial audio in apps and content. As things progress, the few issues today will give way to seamless, breathtaking spatial audio experiences being the norm.

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