Spatial Audio on Android: The Beginner’s Guide

Spatial audio is an exciting new feature available on certain Android devices that provides an immersive listening experience.

By using surround sound technology, spatial audio makes music, movies, and games come alive with 3D sound that surrounds you. In this beginner’s guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know to get started with spatial audio on your Android phone or tablet.

Benefits of Spatial Audio

Here are some of the key benefits spatial audio offers:

  • More immersive entertainment – Movies, music, games and virtual reality feel more engaging and realistic.
  • Hear sound all around you – Sounds can come from any direction just like in real life.
  • Better headphone audio – Headphones become more like speakers placed all around you.
  • More accessibility options – Audio is localized to what you’re interacting with on-screen.

Requirements for Spatial Audio

To experience spatial audio on your Android device, you’ll need:

  • Android 9 or later
  • Headphones (required for full spatial audio)
  • Supported apps and content
  • A device with compatible hardware – see the next section for details

Devices Compatible with Spatial Audio

As spatial audio is still a relatively new technology, so far only certain Android phones and tablets support it fully. Specifically, you’ll need hardware with 5G connectivity and surround sound speaker setups.

Here are some Android device models that work with spatial audio via headphones and/or built-in speakers:

Phone/TabletSpatial Audio Support
Samsung Galaxy Note 20 Ultra 5GHeadphones & Speakers
Samsung Galaxy S20 Ultra 5GHeadphones & Speakers
Samsung Galaxy Z Fold2 5GHeadphones & Speakers
Samsung Galaxy Tab S7 and S7 PlusHeadphones & Speakers
OnePlus 8 Pro 5GHeadphones
OnePlus 8T+ 5GHeadphones
Xiaomi Mi 10 and Mi 10 ProHeadphones
Asus ROG Phone 3Headphones
Google Pixel 5Headphones

This list will likely continue growing as more manufacturers add spatial audio support to their devices. Check your phone or tablet’s product details to confirm if it works.

Comparing Spatial Audio Technologies

There are a few different competing spatial audio technologies available today. Here’s a quick overview comparing the main options:

  • Dolby Atmos – Focuses on creating an immersive bubble of sound using audio objects. Popular format supported across multiple platforms.
  • DTS:X – Similar immersive audio approach to Dolby Atmos. Uses slightly different speaker layout configurations.
  • Sony 360 Reality Audio – Captures sound in a sphere using special microphones. Custom spatial rendering engine.
  • MPEG-H – An open standard approach to object-based audio. Can deliver surround sound over stereo.
  • Ambisonics – Encodes soundfield data using special microphones. Flexible approach used in VR/AR.

All of these leverage similar spatial audio techniques, like surround sound, scene-based audio, and head-tracking. Dolby Atmos currently has the widest device support and content availability.

Gaming With Spatial Audio

Spatial audio can make gaming on your Android phone or tablet even more engrossing by placing game audio all around you. Here are some ways spatial audio enhances mobile gaming:

  • Locate enemies, NPCs, objects by sound direction.
  • Get immersed in open world environments.
  • Reacts realistically as you turn/move in VR games.
  • Hear teammates’ positions and callouts in multiplayer.

Developers are increasingly supporting spatial audio in mobile games. For example, PUBG has spatial audio settings that make a massive difference in how accurately you can track footsteps and gunfire to pinpoint an opponent’s location.

Finding Spatial Audio Content

More and more content is being released in spatial audio every day across various streaming platforms and apps. Here are some places to find surround sound music, movies and more:

  • Apple Music – Thousands of spatial audio songs with Dolby Atmos are available.
  • Amazon Music – Amazon Music HD includes a growing catalog of tracks in 360 audio.
  • TIDAL – TIDAL provides Dolby Atmos music using spatial audio.
  • Netflix – A number of Netflix Originals like Stranger Things support 5.1 and Dolby Atmos surround sound.
  • Disney+ – Select movies like Black Panther and shows support Dolby Atmos immersive audio.
  • YouTube – Search for “360 video” or “spatial audio” to find compatible clips.
  • Facebook – 360 videos on Facebook automatically play with spatial audio.
  • Spotify – Spotify is slowly rolling out support for spatial audio podcasts.

For the best experience, streaming services recommend using a 5GHz WiFi connection or wired headphones to avoid latency issues. Also look for the Dolby Atmos or Spatial Audio badges on content descriptions.

Spatial Audio vs Stereo Audio

To understand what makes spatial audio so unique, it helps to compare it to standard stereo audio. Here are some key differences:

Spatial AudioStereo Audio
– Surround sound with 3D space– Left and right channels only
– Directional sounds relative to listener– Sounds anchored to left/right speakers
– Creates “sound field” using head tracking– Static sound presented flat in front
– Realistic replication of audio environments– Limited realism and immersion

With stereo audio, sounds are fixed to the left and right channels, like listening through speakers on either side of you. Spatial audio is much more dynamic – sounds are positioned all around you in a sphere, moving realistically as you tilt and turn your head.

Tips for the Best Spatial Audio Experience

Follow these tips to get the most immersive experience from spatial audio on your Android device:

  • Use over-ear headphones for full surround sound – earbuds may limit effect
  • Get headphones with motion sensors for head-tracking
  • Close your eyes to focus on the 3D soundscape
  • Sit in a swivel chair and turn your head gently
  • Download content for offline use to avoid streaming issues
  • Equalize loudness across channels if sounds seem imbalanced
  • Try spatial audio gaming for more immersive gameplay

It may take a little time to get used to spatial audio versus standard stereo. But once you experience it, stereo will sound flat in comparison! Take some time exploring this exciting new audio technology on your Android device.

Advanced Spatial Audio Settings

Once you’ve set up basic spatial audio on your Android device, you can further customize the experience using these advanced settings:

  • Head tracking sensitivity – Adjust how quickly sound responds as you move your head in supported apps.
  • Room size – Simulate different room environments like small or large spaces.
  • Surround speaker setups – Choose from speaker configurations like 5.1, 7.1, and more channels.
  • EQ presets – Optimize EQ for movies, music, or voice content.
  • First-order Ambisonics – Toggle this setting for better spatial accuracy at the cost of overhead.

Location of these settings varies across devices and apps, but you can typically find them in the audio or accessibility menus. Play around to see what gives you the most realistic and immersive audio experience.

Troubleshooting Spatial Audio

If you’re having issues getting spatial audio to work properly on Android, try these troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure your OS, apps, and content are all up-to-date.
  • Check that required OS permissions are enabled for your apps.
  • Restart your device and app to clear any audio bugs.
  • Ensure volume is up high enough to hear spatial audio effects.
  • Verify spatial audio is enabled in your device settings.
  • Switch headphones and confirm they support spatial audio features.
  • Move your head slowly when testing to help head-tracking sensors.
  • Check for compatibility issues with your specific Android model.

If problems persist, you can also try uninstalling and reinstalling problematic apps that aren’t outputting spatial audio properly. As more Android devices add support, bugs are still being ironed out.

The Takeaway

After reading this beginner’s guide, you now have a solid understanding of spatial audio and how to start using it on Android.

  • Spatial audio makes sound immersive by adding surround channels and head-tracking.
  • Supported Android phones, tablets and headphones are required.
  • Content with Dolby Atmos or 360 audio enables spatial audio.
  • It works by processing motion data and filtering audio channels accordingly.
  • Future innovations will keep improving realism and accessibility.

Ready to step into the world of immersive sound? With the right gear and apps, spatial audio lets you enjoy entertainment, games, and media in a whole new way. Whether listening to music, watching videos, or exploring new apps, spatial audio makes everything more lifelike on your Android device.

So grab some headphones, pull up a spatial audio-capable app, and dive into the new frontier of surround sound. Your ears will thank you!

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