iOS 15, macOS Monterey Simulates Spatial Audio in Non-Dolby Content Using Spatialize Stereo, Here’s What it Means

Spatialize Stereo will help users get a directional simulation on millions of audio, video tracks that were not recorded with Dolby surround.

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Spatialize Stereo

iOS 15 and macOS Monterey beta versions are out now, and so, the streak of users finding tiny tidbits on the new operating systems has begun. One new feature that users appear to have found (and duly posted about on Reddit) actually appears to be a bigger deal than just a side note, so it’s a bit surprising that Apple didn’t fit it in somewhere through the nearly two hours of the WWDC 2021 keynote. The feature is called Spatialize Stereo, and it appears to be buried within the audio controls on iOS 15 and macOS Monterey. As you may have guessed from the name, the feature will attempt to offer users spatial distribution on standard stereo tracks.

Spatialize Stereo: how it would work

To be clear from the start, the feature is not the same as the Spatial Audio feature that was launched on Apple Music recently. Spatial Audio is based on tracks actually recorded by music producers by using Dolby Surround and Dolby Atmos recording tech. Using this spatial distribution on compatible headphones gives users the ability to enjoy a directional dispersion of audio sources, which can add a different edge to listening to live concerts and movies.

Now, while Spatialize Stereo won’t exactly be able to replicate the three-dimensional spatial distribution that such tracks offer, it will attempt to simulate the spatial audio distribution that Dolby Atmos certified tracks come with. In essence, it will replicate the distribute of space through software optimisation, and will likely work on more apps than one. It can effectively apply the spatial distribution filter on top of any stereo audio track, and you don’t need to play through Apple Music only – Spatialize Stereo will support Spotify, and for YouTube videos, playing them through a web browser (and not the official YouTube player/app) will also do the trick.

People posting about it have since confirmed that to access it, users can swipe open the control centre on the iOS 15 beta, long press on the volume control channel, and from the screen that opens up, get a button to the bottom-right that can switch on Spatialize Stereo. The same process applies for macOS Monterey as well. The feature is certainly interesting, since it would allow users to listen to most non-Dalby tracks in spatial distribution as well, or at least some of it.

Whether it works as intended, is something that remains to be seen. Furthermore, music producers may also have a thing or two to say about this feature. Adding spatial distribution to stereo tracks mean fiddling around with the production parameters of a fully mastered audio track, which may not sit well with everyone in the music industry.

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