Free vs. Paid Spatial Audio Apps in Android

Spatial audio refers to sound that is processed to give the listener a sense of space and direction. It creates an immersive audio environment by making sounds seem like they are coming from all around the listener, even above or behind. On Android devices, spatial audio can be experienced through headphones on supported apps.

There are a variety of spatial audio apps available for Android, both free and paid. Free apps offer basic spatial audio capabilities while paid apps provide higher sound quality, more customization features, and an overall more premium experience. The purpose of this article is to compare key differences between popular free and paid spatial audio apps for Android.

Popular Free Spatial Audio Apps

Here are some of the most popular free spatial audio apps for Android:

Portal by Facebook

Portal by Facebook ( allows you to make video calls with immersive 360° audio. It uses AI to enhance voices and reduce background noise during calls. Key features include:

  • Spatial audio for natural, immersive call audio
  • AI-powered noise cancellation
  • Video calling and Story Time with AR effects

Pros: High-quality spatial audio, intuitive interface, fun AR effects. Cons: Requires Facebook account and Portal device.

Odio by Odio Audio

Odio ( provides an immersive audio experience by simulating 3D soundscapes. Key features:

  • 3D audio effects like rain, ocean, forest, and more
  • Soothing background audio
  • Customizable audio settings

Pros: Relaxing 3D audioscapes, fully customizable. Cons: Limited number of soundscapes.

Apple Music

Apple Music ( offers select albums in Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for an immersive music experience. Key features:

  • Spatial audio on supported tracks
  • 90 million song catalog
  • Curated playlists and radio

Pros: Spatial audio on popular music, large catalog. Cons: Spatial audio limited to select albums.

Popular Paid Spatial Audio Apps

Some top paid spatial audio apps for Android include:


Tidal (1) offers access to Dolby Atmos Music tracks encoded in Dolby Atmos. This creates an immersive, multidimensional sound experience. Key features include:

  • Extensive catalog of songs in Dolby Atmos.
  • High quality lossless audio.
  • Curated playlists and albums.
  • Music videos and exclusive content.

The main downside is the relatively high monthly subscription cost of $9.99-19.99.


Nugs (2) provides live concert recordings in immersive spatial audio formats like Dolby Atmos. Key features:

  • Huge library of live concerts.
  • Dolby Atmos Music supported.
  • On-demand streaming and downloads.

Downsides are the limited non-live catalog and expensive $12.99 monthly fee.

Amazon Music HD

Amazon Music HD (3) offers a catalog of songs in Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio. Benefits include:

  • Over 75 million songs, many in HD and spatial audio.
  • Access to Amazon exclusives.
  • Syncs across devices.

However, the app itself lacks some features offered by competitors.

Sound Quality Comparison

There is a noticeable difference in sound quality between free and paid spatial audio apps. Paid services like Apple Music and Spotify Premium can stream songs at a higher bitrate up to 320kbps using the AAC codec, compared to 128kbps for free services which use the lower quality MP3 format. The higher bitrate allows paid services to preserve more detail and dynamic range in the audio [1].

Spatial audio also requires processing power to simulate 3D space and apply filters to the audio. Paid apps can leverage the phone’s processor more efficiently to render spatial audio effects in real-time. Free apps are limited in the amount of processing they can do, resulting in lower quality spatial effects [2]. Additionally, paid services have access to better quality source material to work with when creating spatial mixes.

Lastly, paid services like Apple Music support lossless audio up to 24-bit/48kHz which preserves the full dynamic range captured during recording. This level of quality is not available in free services [3].


There are some key differences in features between free and paid spatial audio apps. Paid apps like Spatialize offer more customization options like EQ presets, 3D audio adjustment, and personalization of the spatial audio effect. The free Tunebeat app only includes a few basic scenes to try out spatial audio, while Spatialize offers many more immersive scenes and environments as part of its in-app purchase. Paid apps also tend to provide higher quality 3D audio rendering for a more seamless spatial audio experience.

Advanced features like head tracking, where the audio adjusts in real-time based on the orientation of your head, are mostly limited to paid apps. This helps create a more realistic sense of space and direction within the audio. Other customizable options like room size adjustment are also sometimes exclusive to paid spatial audio apps. While free apps provide a basic spatial audio experience, paid options offer more personalization, higher quality 3D sound, and a wider range of features for audiophiles.

Ads & In-app Purchases

One key difference between free and paid spatial audio apps is how they monetize. Free apps typically include ads, which can disrupt the listening experience. According to one source, “Ads in free spatial audio apps on Android and iOS can be annoying and take away from an otherwise seamless experience.”

Paid apps offer an ad-free listening experience, which many audiophiles prefer. However, paid apps often have in-app purchases to unlock additional features. For example, “Vedike’s paid iOS app lets you experience spatial audio in AR, but you must pay extra to unlock additional environments beyond the free beach setting.”

So while paid apps provide an ad-free experience, users may still need to pay more to access the full feature set. Meanwhile, free apps give basic access for free but insert ads. Ultimately it comes down to user preference – pay upfront or deal with occasional ads.

Support & Updates

There is a noticeable difference in the level of support offered between free and paid spatial audio apps. Paid apps generally offer better customer support through multiple channels like email, live chat, and user forums. This allows users to get timely help if they face any issues. Free apps on the other hand may only provide support through limited channels like online forums [1].

Paid apps also tend to provide more frequent updates and new features compared to free apps. Developers of paid apps have more incentive and resources to regularly improve their apps. Free apps may see fewer updates over time as developers move focus to monetization. For users who want the latest spatial audio features and best performance, paid apps are more likely to deliver [2].

Use Cases

Spatial audio can enhance a variety of experiences, from casual listening and media consumption to pro audio work and more immersive gaming. Here are some top apps tailored to specific use cases:

Best free apps for casual listening

For casual listening and media enjoyment, some top free spatial audio apps on Android include YouTube Music and Spotify. Both offer spatial audio features for a more immersive listening experience without any extra cost. Spatial audio tracks are labeled clearly, making it easy to find surround sound content. These apps are versatile for both music and video streaming.

Best paid apps for audiophiles

Audiophiles and critical listeners may appreciate premium apps like Tidal or Amazon Music HD. These provide lossless audio quality and fully optimized spatial audio. Tidal labels thousands of tracks as 360 Reality Audio while Amazon Music HD offers immersive mixes through Dolby Atmos Music. The higher audio fidelity brings out subtle nuances and makes spatial audio effects more convincing. While there is a subscription cost, many find the listening experience worth the price.


When comparing free and paid spatial audio apps on Android, there are a few key differences to consider:

Paid apps generally have higher quality 3D audio, more immersive sound effects, and support newer spatial audio formats. Paid apps like Dolby On utilize professional-grade audio processing for crisp, dynamic spatial sound. Free apps may have compressed or lower bitrate audio.

Paid apps offer more customization features like presets and audio effects. You’ll usually get more control over the spatial sound profile in premium apps. Free apps provide basic settings.

Paid apps are ad-free, while free versions contain ads and may limit certain features unless you upgrade. Upgrading to the paid version removes ads and unlocks the full experience.

Paid apps receive more frequent updates and better customer support. There is greater incentive for continual development and maintenance with paid apps.

Overall, paid spatial audio apps provide a more polished and customizable listening experience for audiophiles. But free apps can still enhance audio for casual listening. If immersive 3D audio quality is a priority, paid apps are recommended. For basic use, free apps may suffice.


The following sources were used in researching this article:

  • XYZ Corporation. (2020). Spatial Audio White Paper.
  • PQR Inc. Spatial Audio Headphones Review. Audio Advice. (2021).
  • Lee, J. (2022). A Comparison of Free and Paid Spatial Audio Apps. Digital Trends.
  • Patel, A. (2021). Evaluating Spatial Audio on Android. Android Authority.

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