Audio: Listen to this article.
Welcome to a new Era in Music Listening, dubbed Immersive Audio.
The delivery process is an exciting problem: how it is transferred, stored, etc. The commercial nature of Dolby Atmos limits flexibility as the decoding is locked up in their software and licensing.
Apple has one fantastic solution to the delivery problem. They deliver their spatial audio via streaming using Dolby Digital Plus Joint Object Coding (DD+ JOC) to all iOS, tvOS, and macOS devices.
Finally, unlike everyone else, we have a playback system on the desktop! Plus, you can save the Apple Music Atmos format files to your local drive for offline use.
Amazon has Atmos, Tidal is trying to re-make itself, and Qobuz is asleep. Spotify has not even figured out CD-quality 2-channel streaming. Are you overwhelmed yet? Many are! Let me help you fix that.
I have an exciting path I am navigating. I have not found any land mines; the only real roadblock is money, some of which was already spent.
So, just like in the movie “Open Your Mind, Quaid!” The first thing to get over is that you will be listening to lossy compressed audio. No, this is not your father’s MP3, but full disclosure: it is not high resolution lossless (TrueHD). Also, you must enter the land of “Apple,” not “The Land That Time Forgot!”
You need three things:
1. The first is a subscription to Apple Music.
2. The next thing is playback hardware, which requires putting your Karnak Hat on. (Be mindful of Apple’s return policies.) Where do you think you will go? Build a system with video? Listening on the go? Diving in all the way!
If you have a TV with a spare HDMI input, the Apple TV 4K is a good starter, but it is a diversion as it is a video-first device. A Modern iPhone is your mobile entry, and an iPad of the proper generation is another direction. An Apple Silicon MAC is the pinnacle as it holds the key to full Lossless TrueHD Atmos playback and Apple Spatial Audio. It is also excellent listening to Atmos just on the Mac speakers.
Here is a support article from Apple that lists the hardware compatible with Spatial Audio: LINK
I was going to write a whole section here on how to set up Spatial Audio on different devices, but Apple has a helpful article that does it better than I can. LINK
One of the more advanced features of the AirPods Pro 2 is the Personalized Spatial Audio, where the iPhone is used to measure your head! LINK
NOTE: Apple Spatial Audio is not available in all markets, so check here: LINK
3. So the third thing is the AirPods Pro 2! At $250, they are the best introduction to Spatial audio headphones. I call them the first course of a seven-course meal.
If you just bought that new iPhone 15 Pro Max 256 GB in Blue Titanium (Big Grin), find a nice quiet place to lay down and fire up my Atmos Playlist on Apple Music! Relax, put the iPhone on your chest, and listen (out of the iPhone speakers)! Just saying, you still will want the AirPods Pro 2!
OK, please stop calling me an Apple Fan-boi, even though I am! This is a path that works. Simple, fast, clean, and functional. Like owning a minivan, you may hate the thought, but it works.
Apple Music is the gateway to Atmos. Apple hardware is the transport.
When you build an Atmos speaker system using a Mac to play back TrueHD Atmos, things get very exciting.
There is a fast-growing section here on the Audiophile Style of information and discussion around Immersive Audio.