Looking for a completely immersive music experience? These Spatial Audio tracks from Apple Music will take you to new musical heights with their unique 3D audio reproduction.
Over the past few months, Apple has focused on spatial audio playback. Developed to ensure an open, spacious and realistic soundstage, this technology allows for precise placement of sonic objects.
However, while spatial audio for movies and TV shows is still exclusive to Apple AirPods Pro IEMs and Apple AirPods Max headphones, Apple Music offers an on-demand listening service compatible with all IEMs and True Wireless earphones as well as hi-fi and Bluetooth headphones. Apple Music’s Dolby Atmos spatial audio technology is not limited to the brand’s devices and is also compatible with Android. Note, however, that Spatial Audio playback with headphones or earphones is a Binaural effect, that is, based on a stereo effect. To take full advantage of the immersion offered by Spatial Audio, a Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar or a Dolby Atmos installation consisting of a center speaker, compact or floorstanding front speakers, as well as surround and Atmos speakers or in-ceiling speakers will provide an even more stunning result.
Here is a selection of tracks to enjoy in Dolby Atmos music via Apple Music.
Weaver of Dreams – Freddie Hubbard (1961)
The very basis of jazz is the interaction between the musicians, the way the instruments intertwine and interact with each other. Hubbard’s iconic trumpet continuously plays in our left ear while the drums are on our right. The blue notes of the saxophone and keyboards settle behind you, and the bass can be easily located near the drums. With this track you are in the middle of the action. You can close your eyes and imagine yourself on the Birdland stage in the mid-70s.
Don’t Know Why – Norah Jones (2002)
The acoustics of this mix resemble a live version of the hit that kick-started Jones’ career so much that you can close your eyes and be transported to a small club. The stereo version of this song didn’t offer such a natural sound.
Drive – R.E.M. (1992)
The first single from R.E.M.’s eighth album, Automatic for the People, was apparently the first song Michael Stipe ever wrote using a computer, and here it is given new life. Guitar in our left ear, bass overhead, Stipe wandering thoughtfully around the studio as the harmonica erupts on our right; a melancholy soundscape takes shape around us and is even more reminiscent of David Essex’s Rock On and Queen’s musical style – both cited by the band as the song’s inspirations. In 2017 after hearing the album for the first time in Dolby Atmos, Michael Stipe said that the effect was breathtaking.
Ocean Eyes – Billie Eilish (2017)
It’s hard to believe that when Billie Eilish recorded this song in her bedroom, she was only 14 years old. The voice of this first song (written and produced by her brother who was 17 years old at the time) is mature, assured and yet ethereal in this re-recorded version.
It’s almost unsettling when additional, layered voices flow towards you from all directions. Then, as the song progresses and the vocal styles surround you, a percussion loop joins you to your right, almost within reach.
Space Cowboy – Kacey Musgraves (2018)
The Spatial Audio mix sounds more expansive and distinct than the stereo version. Musgraves’ angelic voice is located in about the same place as it is in the stereo mix (center, front), but it is clearer and better defined. The drums seem to have been pushed more towards the back of the soundstage. The keyboard and guitar parts are spaced farther apart than in the stereo mix, which creates a very nice depth.
Clash – Dave and Stormzy (2021)
In all honesty, this immersive Spatial Audio London hip-hop track is hard to top. The intro alone takes you down several flights of stairs into the beating heart of a murky Brixton and Croydon venue. You are plunged into the world of these two giants of British music.
Die Walküre, Act III Ride of the Valkyries – Richard Wagner (1851)
Want to pretend you’re Ben Gernon, conducting the London Philharmonic Orchestra in Abbey Road Studios? Let’s go. Turn your head to the left and lead the strings. Then look forward towards the brass section. The flutes and oboes are at the front, closest to you, and to the right, the double basses provide the foundation. Through this intense wall of sound comes the triangle – don’t forget it or you’ll mess up the piece. Spatial audio has it all figured out here. Glorious!
Paparazzi – Lady Gaga (2009)
With a mix very similar to surround sound, this is an excellent example of a pop hit that has been revived with excellent Spatial Audio editing.
Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds – The Beatles (1967)
The opening synth meanders between our ears in this remix. The rhythm guitar has more impact to our left, and the mix just before the chorus is quite different from the original. That’s one of the advantages of Spatial Audio technology: additional elements and information are revealed.
Déjà Vu – Olivia Rodrigo (2021)
This track has a wide soundstage. The synthesizers are expansive and clearly defined, especially in comparison to the narrower stereo mix. More importantly, the Spatial Audio mix creates more space for the powerful background vocals, which come in behind the lead vocal, punctuating the lyrics.