What To Know About Google Pixel’s Spatial Audio

One of the most interesting topics going on in the world of audio right now is spatial audio integration. In the past few years, certain companies have been trying to make it a lot easier to get a surround sound experience through new technology like Dolby Atmos and DTS X. These names have made it possible to turn any common set of stereo headphones or earbuds into a multi-dimensional, immersive sound experience. Apple, Sony, and Microsoft have all pushed into this new territory, offering spatial audio support for music, movies, and games. The latest company to get in on this venture is Google, as they’ve now given their Pixel phones spatial audio support.

Through the Pixel’s January update, you’ll be able to switch on spatial audio within the settings menu. Activating this option will make it so your phone can fully play back surround sound audio from specific platforms that offer it, such as Apple Music and Netflix. Any Dobly 5.1-supported content should now be able to perform straight from your Pixel phone into any pair of headphones connected to it.

For those unfamiliar, spatial audio technology like Dolby Atmos enables you to experience virtual surround sound. Instead of having your traditional left/right stereo channels, spatial audio presents the soundstage with a 3D effect. Individual sounds can be placed all around your headspace, giving off a dome-like appearance. This helps with immersion in any type of media that supports it. Movies and games will covey even more realism, while music will feel more alive, making every instrument and vocal performance pop.

With the Pixel’s spatial audio integration, you’ll also soon be able to experience head-tracking, which follows the sound according to your head movement. For example, singing voices or dialog from a film will appear on the left side of you if you were to turn your head to the left and vice versa. This option will only be available with Google’s Pixel Buds Pro. A firmware update should be released in the next few weeks that will make this feature available for Pixel Buds Pro users.

Spatial audio is now available through Google’s January update for the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, 7, and 7 Pro.

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Alex S. is a sound designer and voice-over artist who has worked in film, commercials, and podcasts. He loves horror movies and emo music.