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With tvOS 15, Apple is bringing Spatial Audio to the Apple TV when the set-top box is used with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. It has been unclear how this feature will work because the Apple TV does not have a U1 chip for head tracking purposes, but Apple recently gave an explanation to Engadget.

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When you’re watching a TV show or movie on the Apple TV, the head tracking feature (powered by AirPods Pro or Max) detects that you’ve been looking in the same direction, calculates your probable head orientation, and activates the Spatial Audio effect. If you get up, it reactivates.
When you sit down to watch a movie or TV show, the included head tracking feature will lock in after it detects you’ve been looking in the same direction for a while. Once you get up to walk around, it will reactivate.
Spatial Audio will work with stereo, 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content, and connecting the AirPods to an Apple TV that’s running tvOS 15 has been streamlined. When you’re wearing AirPods and are near the Apple TV, you’ll see an on-screen popup that will let you connect with a click of the remote.

Spatial Audio is designed to provide a theater-like listening experience with sound that seems to come from all around you. tvOS 15 is also gaining new SharePlay features for watching TV with friends over FaceTime calls and support for pairing two HomePod mini speakers to an Apple TV.

Article Link: Apple Explains How Spatial Audio Head Tracking Will Work on Apple TV
 

Chung123

macrumors regular
Dec 5, 2013
231
103
NYC
Without the active head tracking.. they should make the audio available for listening with ANY Bluetooth headphone. I wondered about how many bluetooth headphones can connect. It would be cool to have a silent disco.
 
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SilverRubicon

macrumors member
Jun 12, 2008
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21
Atlanta, GA
Head tracking has generally been more of a nuisance to me than a “feature,” particularly for music. Wish it could be disabled separately from Spatial Audio.
Head tracking on the Apple TV seems like a nuisance and unnecessary in the best of circumstances. Maybe games could make use of it but movies/tv? Hard pass. Spatial audio (aka Dolby Atmos) sure but not head tracking.
 
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Chung123

macrumors regular
Dec 5, 2013
231
103
NYC
Head tracking on the Apple TV seems like a nuisance and unnecessary in the best of circumstances. Maybe games could make use of it but movies/tv? Hard pass. Spatial audio (aka Dolby Atmos) sure but not head tracking.

Obviously, it is to sell their headphones ;) But would it really hurt them that much to also make the spatial audio (without the tracking) -- binaural audio-- for EVERYONE to enjoy with just a any regular pair of headphones?

Apple's rumored VR headset isn't available yet! And that's where head tracking really makes sense to me.
 
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DocMultimedia

macrumors 6502a
Sep 8, 2012
894
1,992
Charlottesville, VA
This constant excitement about sound going in to your two ears is really getting boring. Making this the key point of the WWDC really shows that there is nothing of interest to show. Will any of this help me at the gym, in a car, a click of my mouse, or while out on a run?

I just don't get it. Oh well, so long as $aapl goes up I'm happy.
 
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ErikGrim

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Jun 20, 2003
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Brisbane, Australia
Maybe I’m imagining the L/R balance shifting pretty dramatically when I move my head, then?
You are not. When Doves Cry (2015 Paisley Park Remix) has head tracking enabled for the vocals (and only the vocals). It's a very interesting, and a bit unnerving, effect.

I've been spinning around in my chair, and Prince stays put in the same place.
 
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Chung123

macrumors regular
Dec 5, 2013
231
103
NYC
This constant excitement about sound going in to your two ears is really getting boring. Making this the key point of the WWDC really shows that there is nothing of interest to show. Will any of this help me at the gym, in a car, a click of my mouse, or while out on a run?

I just don't get it. Oh well, so long as $aapl goes up I'm happy.
There is a thinking I’ve read that music mixed for playback on speakers in a living room— gets “tiring” to listen to with headphones left and right channel— As the sound appears to be just inside your head.
Encoding processing that sound to fool your brain that you are in a club/cathedral/stadium theater is supposed to make it more natural and effortless to enjoy.
 
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femike

macrumors 6502a
Oct 15, 2011
643
1,023
Spacial audio is a feature I don't need or desire. To those that will use it, good for you.
And the way it's currently implemented, it's designed to sell more Apple products/services a common theme throughout the WWDC 2021.
 
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ErikGrim

macrumors 603
Jun 20, 2003
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Brisbane, Australia
Oh lord, the effect is even more pronounced with regular stereo tracks and Spatialising Stereo on. It's the exact effect of listening to stereo speakers placed in front of you. It's uncanny. It's like there's no headphones in at all. Turning it off places the sound back inside your head and you wonder why you'd ever listen to music like this before.

I've been railing against audio gimmicks before but this is undeniably a remarkable improvement to headphone listening.
 
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zoomp

macrumors regular
Aug 20, 2010
111
179
Head tracking for music seems to have been enabled server side since yesterday. It is a completely different experience to static atmos mixing. Listening to Abbey Road like this is a revelation! I get Zane's gushing now :eek:
Not sure what you are listening to… but the track you mentioned is not even listed as lossless, let alone spatial audio. Head tracking as far as I know will be enabled by the years’ end.
 
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