Why Apple Music Sessions will be the best use of Spatial Audio yet

It’s like Radio 1’s Live Lounge (if you’re a Brit) or MTV’s Unplugged (if you’re old enough to remember the early 90s), but this time we can enjoy it in the glorious and immersive Dolby Atmos from Apple Music. Improved spatial audio.

What is the problem? Good question – and if you’re an Apple Music subscriber, you should read on.

Apple has just launched Apple Music Sessions. The free rollout gives Apple Music subscribers, who total around 98 million or thereabouts (my membership is somewhere proudly in that number) exclusive access to live releases featuring some of the world’s most prolific and up-and-coming artists, all in Spatial Audio.

Apple says the sessions are recorded at Apple Music studios around the world, giving artists the ability to reimagine and recreate hits from their catalog, and create creative new covers.

And one of the best parts is that these unique performances are also filmed, resulting in a live collection of brand new Spatial Audio music tracks (the Apple technology that recently celebrated its first anniversary for music) and music videos live performance.

The early releases both have a country flavor in that they come from Carrie Underwood and Tenille Townes, recorded at Apple Music’s new state-of-the-art studios in Nashville, Tennessee. Both releases include three audio tracks and three videos – and after hearing them, I can tell you there’s a lot to celebrate.

Opinion: Apple Music just makes Spotify look bad at this point – and so does Netflix

Netflix recently launched Spatial Audio – but like Dolby Atmos (whose badges seem to appear with alarming regularity on tablets such as the Amazon Fire HD 10 Plus, where the ability to deliver truly immersive aerial sound from those tiny tops built-in speakers can’t match that from a recording studio or theater 9.1.7) Not all spatial sounds are created equal.

Indeed, Netflix streams its Spatial Audio content using AMBEO 2-Channel, a technology licensed from Sennheiser that allows sound mixers to adapt Dolby Atmos soundtracks for Spatial Audio presentation on speakers. stereo.

Apple’s Spatial Audio system, on the other hand, uses a 5.1, 7.1 or object-based audio track such as Dolby Atmos and as we know, Apple also manufactures the hardware with which to take fuller advantage of its Spatial Audio offering. If you’re listening to Apple Music Sessions on the Cupertino giant’s own AirPods Pro, AirPods Max or AirPods 3, these headphones take the Dolby Atmos music recording and process it on-device for an enhanced, head-tracking sound experience.

And let’s not forget that Apple’s original HomePod also supports spatial audio, but the HomePod mini doesn’t. If the highly anticipated and still unofficial HomePod 2 supports Apple Music’s enhanced Dolby Atmos, we’ll all be in for a rare treat.

Now Spotify. The whole Apple Music Sessions concept looks like Apple’s answer to Spotify Sessions (opens in a new tab) (hardly subtle, right?), but let’s be honest: we know who wore it best. Spotify has yet to launch its higher-resolution Spotify HiFi level (which it promised to unveil by the end of 2021, but hasn’t) or to add Dolby Atmos-enhanced music to his work.

Despite the recent price increase for its student plan, Apple Music is, in my opinion, a cut above the rest and now even superior to the longtime audiophile choice, Tidal. And with Custom Spatial Audio on the horizon and more sessions promised, Tim Cook’s giant just presented the best case for switching music streaming services yet.