Apple’s Eddy Cue: The future of music isn’t lossless, it’s Spatial Audio

Apple Music launched a major update to its service Monday, rolling out a lossless service offering high-fidelity music and enabling Spatial Audio, a feature supported by Dolby Atmos that provides a surround sound-like experience for music listeners, at no additional charge to its subscribers.


Apple Music’s Zane Lowe: Spatial Audio will transform music

If you subscribe to Apple Music, you can listen to select songs in spatial audio with Dolby Atmos. Get a multidimensional experience that goes beyond just listening to music and makes you feel like you’re inside of it. And listen on any headphones, the built-in speakers on your iPhone, iPad, or Mac, and with Apple TV 4K.

Micah Singleton for Billboard:

Billboard had a chance to listen to Spatial Audio in Apple Music before it was released, and the quality of its offering exceeds similar services from Tidal and Amazon Music, which both offer 3D Audio tracks from Dolby Atmos and Sony 360 Reality Audio.

Billboard spoke with Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of internet software and services, whose responsibilities include Apple Music to discuss the streaming service, lossless music, and what Spatial Audio may mean for the future of music consumption.

Billboard: We saw some of your competitors launch their own versions of immersive music, which have had varying levels of success. What makes Spatial Audio different?

Eddy Cue: I’ve been waiting for something in music that was a real game-changer. The quality of audio has not been able to really rise because there hasn’t been anything out there that when you listen to it, it truly is differentiated to everybody. It doesn’t matter whether you’re eight years old or 80 years old, everyone can tell the difference and everyone knows this one sounds better than the other one.

And the analogy to that is obviously the first time you ever saw HD on television: you knew which one was better because it was obvious. And we’ve been missing that in audio for a long time. There really hasn’t been anything that’s been substantial… When you listen for the first time and you see what’s possible with Dolby Atmos with music, it’s a true game-changer. And so, when we listened to it for the first time, we realized this is a big, big deal. It makes you feel like you’re onstage, standing right next to the singer, it makes you feel like you might be to the left of the drummer, to the right of the guitarist. It creates this experience that, almost in some ways, you’ve never really had, unless you’re lucky enough to be really close to somebody playing music…

I think this is going to take over everything. It’s the way I want to listen to music when I’m in my car. It’s going to be the way I listen to music immediately with my AirPods. It’s going to be the way I listen to music in my house. In a way, it won’t feel very good when I’m listening to something that’s not Dolby Atmos because it’s so good. It’s like when I’m watching HD, it’s hard to go back.

MacDailyNews Take: As we wrote earlier today, “Already, we don’t want to listen to music without Spatial Audio.”

Spatial Audio is Apple-only. Spotify does not have, nor have they announced, anything like it.

Check out Marvin Gaye: From Mono to Stereo to Spatial to hear the difference that Spatial Audio makes.

5 Comments

  1. While Spatial Audio might be a “game changer” for some, lossless compression on audio of at least CD quality should be the minimum baseline upon which to base anything and everything else.

  2. Please. The Marvin Gaye track they forced my Music app to play switched to atmos, and all that happened is the percussion and hand claps got louder. Headset schmedset.

  3. I hope people love Spatial Music, but I’m not impressed. I’ve listened to some 3D/”8D” songs on YouTube that were really great and could be even better with a sound engineer producing them.

    I listened to a Queen song on YT and it felt like Freddie Mercury was walking around me singing. Whoever made it could have spent time carefully placing Freddie’s voice in 3D space instead of letting their software create default output. However, the result showed what is really possible.

  4. If it’s all it cracked up to be, someone will write a program/app to enable Dolby Atmos on capable devices for downloaded media.

    Apple may or may not allow it. Everyone else will.

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