Spatial Audio is one of the cool tricks Apple has ever added to its headphones and earbuds. It uses special sound processing to trick your ears into thinking sounds are coming from all kinds of points around you. It is used to play Dolby Atmos content in Apple Music and other supported video and audio applications, and it sounds really great.
Even though we only have two ears, we know which direction the sounds are coming from because the sounds change as they interact with our ears and head. Our brains pick up on these subtle changes to determine the direction of origin. With Spatial Audio, Apple uses algorithms called HRTFs (Head Related Transfer Functions) to mimic those subtle changes so that you “hear” a sound that comes from a different place than the tiny earbuds that sit in your ear. With AirPods Pro, Max and Beats Fit Pro, you can even use the built-in accelerometer to measure how your head is turning and keep the sound stable relative to your position.
While it works great for most people, initially these algorithms were kind of a one-size-fits-all. As you can imagine, the sound entering your ears is modified differently depending on the size and shape of your head and ears. With iOS 16, you can create a Personalized spatial audio profile that takes this into account more accurately, making Spatial Audio even better. Here’s how to set it up.
Time to complete: 5 minutes
Tools needed: iPhone with Face ID, iOS 16 or later
Required materials: no
Pair your AirPods and open the case
Make sure your AirPods or Beats earbuds are paired with your iPhone, then open the case near your iPhone.
Open Settings and you’ll see your AirPods or Beats headphones at the top. Tap it.
Select “Personalized Spatial Audio”
With your AirPods connected, you will see many options in this menu. Scroll down to where you see Personalized spatial audio and select it.
The next screen describes what this function does. Tap Personalize spatial audio… start.
Follow the prompts to scan your head and ears
You will be guided step by step through your head from a front view and your left and right ear.
Tap Get on and follow the directions. It’s a lot like setting up Face ID!
When you scan your ears, move your head slowly and listen for the confirmation sound to know when the scan is complete.