Updated: Sep 29, 2022
By now, you have probably heard of 3D audio. Currently, the most popular version of this is Dolby Atmos. Very simply put, 3D audio is an immersive audio experience. While Dolby Atmos was developed in 2012 and first released in cinemas, it has quickly become a consumer-grade add-on. With its popularity, other companies are developed their own version of 3D audio. More specifically, Sony and Apple both have their own versions.
Image: Digital Trends
Dolby Atmos uses a speaker system, typically 4-8 speakers throughout the residential room make up the system (up to 400 are used in a traditional movie theater), to encapsulate you in a bubble of sound. If you're watching a TV show or movie that has incorporated Dolby Atmos into their audio, you'll get the full experience. If not, you'll just have really good surround sound. Many movies and shows are now being created with Dolby Atmos. Eventually, it'll become the norm. Read more about Dolby Atmos here.
Image: Tom's Guide/Sony
Sony's version of 3D audio is specific to music and video games. For music, Sony created 360 Reality Audio. The company works with studios, record companies, and streaming platforms to have its 3D audio incorporated into music and give people a fully immersed experience. As long as the platform supports it and you have a decent pair of headphones, you should be able to get the 3D experience. The other version Sony has is the PlayStation 3D Audio. It's said you should be able to hear individual raindrops and hear the footsteps of an enemy all around you in a first-person shooter game. It's supposed to be incredibly immersive, and better than the other 3D audio options. To experience this, you'll have to purchase their specific headphones.
Apple has been heavily promoting its 3D audio version, called Spatial Audio. Apple's 3D audio is specifically for its products. Apple Music, tvOS, and the newest Apple TV 4K already have this as an option, but you'll need the proper Apple or Beats headphones to get the full experience. However, Apple's Spatial Audio is different. From What Hi-Fi's blog on the topic:
Apple’s spatial audio is unique, though, at least where movie soundtracks are concerned, in that it doesn't only provide virtualized surround and Atmos sound, but it also tracks your head movement using accelerometers and gyroscopes in the AirPods 3, AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, and Beats Fit Pro in order to position the sound accurately. It even tracks the position of the iPhone or iPad that you’re watching so that sound is also placed relative to the screen. This means that even if you turn your head or reposition your device, the dialogue will still be anchored to the actor on the screen.
I recommend using any and all options to get 3D audio for your music, games, and shows/movies. If you're someone who likes to get lost in the sound of things, 3D audio is the best thing that could've happened to you. Make sure you check your products for capabilities in order to get the full experience. If you are looking for Spatial Audio specific content, Sound and Vision have a lot on the topic. If you're interested in Dolby Atmos, read more here at our Indoor Audio page and reach out to us. We have access to a bunch of speakers and soundbars that are Dolby Atmos-capable!