Apple's latest attempt to change the audio world is through spatial audio. But what exactly is spatial audio and why should dance music care about another industry buzzword?

Up until now, I would say they shouldn't!

But recent news doubles down on the industry giant's commitment to sound and DJ mixes. This move is set to change the game for DJs and lovers of dance music.

Now let's see exactly why fans of the genre should take note of this budding technology now more than ever. 

What DJ Mixes In Spatial Audio Means For Dance Music

The biggest hardship of DJ mixes comes from splitting royalties. Everyone deserves to get their cut of the pie but the nature of DJ mixes often makes it trickier than most other methods of generating these royalties.

But Apple's Spatial Audio, and the move to include DJ mixes, revolutionizes the potential of DJ mixes. Because Apple's soon-to-launch technology finally gives accurate royalty payouts to all creators, producers, and artists involved in the DJ mixes! 

Until now, most producers making the music that got supported in DJ mixes never saw a penny for the plays the mix received. But come this Fall, that will be a thing of the past...

And to kickoff this game-changing advancement, Detroit techno-legend Jeff Mills will be curating an exclusive hour-long mix using the combined power of Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos to create a mix he is calling 'Outer to Inner Atmosphere: The Escape Velocity Mix.'

Check out exclusive interview with the techno legend who is partnering with Apple to bring this vision to life right here.

For those unfamiliar with the artist, Jeff Mills has spent three decades pushing the boundaries of what is possible in techno and his upcoming mix on Apple's platform is certain to be no exception.

To help pour fuel on the fire for the launch of this new technology, Apple Music will be launching an incredible series of DJ mixes. These mixes have been sourced from some of the most popular Boiler Room sets ever hosted, and have all been redone and remastered using Spatial Audio.

Other mixes to be included will be:

  • Boiler Room: Bambii in London, Oct 16, 2021
  • Boiler Room: Fiyahdred in London, Oct 16, 2021
  • Boiler Room: C.FRIM at Sugar Mountain, Melbourne, Feb 26, 2022
  • Boiler Room: Lady Shaka in London, Oct 16, 2021
  • Boiler Room: Boys Noize in Los Angeles, Sep 25, 2021
  • Boiler Room: Benji B in London, Sep 4, 2021 
  • Boiler Room: Carista at AVA, Belfast, Sep 25, 2021
  • Boiler Room: Swoose at AVA, Belfast, Sep 25, 2021

What Is Spatial Audio?

Spatial Audio is Apple's move to create a 360-degree sound profile for consumer usage. It's goal is to recreate a truly three-dimensional audio space that perfectly replicates the natural world around us. 

Up until now, the stereo field of most modern audio only allows sounds to be placed from left to right. Talented mix engineers have tricks up their sleeve to mimic the notion of front to back stereo placement, but most efforts fall short of the desired aim.

But Spatial Audio is specifically designed to achieve that with ease. 

How To Use Spatial Audio?

Having the proper hardware is critical for those looking to get into spatial audio.

For obvious reasons, Apple's technology works best on Apple-branded products like AirPods. So those looking to listen to some of the best Boiler Room sets in Spatial Audio will want to invest in these products sooner rather than later.

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But the truth is that all headphones have the potential to play DJ mixes and songs in Spatial Audio. In fact, any headphone with W1 or H1 chip technology will enable Spatial Audio automatically! 

Making every Beats Headphone users' life that much easier. 

Many of Apple's modern products have integrated speakers built directly into the system which allows for easy-to-use Spatial Audio at the touch of a button.

The Following Products Support Spatial Audio:

  • iPhone XS and beyond (iPhone SE not included)
  • 3rd Generation iPad Pro 12.9 inch or later
  • 1st Generation iPad Pro 11 inch or later
  • 4th Generation iPad Air

Video content in spatial audio is a bit trickier, but is easily supported through a variety of these newer Apple devices:

  • iPhone 7 and beyond
  • 6th Generation iPad and beyond
  • 3rd Generation iPad Air and beyond
  • 5th Generation iPad mini
  • 3rd Generation iPad Pro 12.9 inch and beyond
  • 1st Generation iPad Pro 11 inch and beyond

Once you have optimized gear, you are almost ready to start getting the most out of your Spatial Audio. 

How Does Spatial Audio Work?

Sound engineers have their work cut out for them when mixing songs to fit for Spatial Audio.

To start, they map individual layers of the mix to specific nodes and points around the 'listener.' This builds a 3D sphere around the imaginary listening position of the listener. The end result of this process is that each individual sound and channel in the mix can come from behind, below, or either side of you.

Headphones don't have the benefits of a club like Halcyon and their physical speakers; thus the audio output isn't physical, but digital. 

Read More About Dolby Atmos

Now is where things get a bit complex, as filters known as Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF) adjust how the sounds of the track are played in relation to a certain position. The entire process of having both your brain and your ears working in tandem to create such an effect is known as binaural rendering. 

TL;RD - your brain is fooled into assuming you're hearing sounds from a completely 3D environment even though it's just coming out of two headphones with a dynamic input. 

How To Turn Spatial Audio Off And On

Turning Spatial Audio Off While Watching A Video: Open the Control Center and press then hold the control volume icon. Then click on the Spatial Audio option control to disable it while watching a video. 

Turning Spatial Audio On or Off Globally: Enter the Settings option and head to the Bluetooth menu. From here, tap the 'i" icon by your AirPods to open the panel to toggle off/on Spatial Audio across all listening devices. 

What Apps Use Spatial Audio?

Here are a list of apps that all support spatial audio

  1. Apple TV
  2. Netflix
  3. Disney+
  4. HBO Max
  5. Paramount+
  6. Discovery+
  7. Vudu
  8. Apple Music

It's worth noting that streaming platforms need to also support Dolby Atmos in order to use Spatial Audio. So if you're watching an older movie like from the 90's, chances are Spatial Audio will not work.

But newer movies like Bird Box certainly will!