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Apple Adding Spatial Audio Support For AirPlay

Although Apple never officially mentioned it during its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC), the company is reportedly in talks to add a new feature to its AirPlay streaming technology, spatial audio support.

According to What Hi-Fi, the addition of spatial audio appeared at the end of a press release that detailed Apple’s tvOS 18 home entertainment enhancements.

AirPlay currently allows users to stream audio from an iPhone, iPad, or Mac to an AirPlay-enabled speaker.

There are limitations, however. AirPlay only supports up to CD-quality 16bit / 44.1kHz lossless audio and doesn’t work with any high-resolution audio sample rates or bit depths.

If a user tries to stream Dolby Atmos from Apple Music to a Dolby Atmos speaker, the audio will be downmixed to stereo.

For spatial audio speaker makers, this proves to be challenging, meaning they would need to build a companion app, and add support for direct streaming from every music service providing Dolby Atmos.

The new spatial audio compatibility should mean any Dolby Atmos speaker working with AirPlay will receive Atmos wirelessly from any Apple device.

For the audio world, this has a major impact, as audio companies that have been avoiding creating a Dolby Atmos speaker have a roadblock removed, and recording artists and streaming services can release more spatial audio content.

The one downside is that AirPlay is still an Apple device exclusive, meaning this feature won’t work with Android and Windows.

A universal solution could be Matter Casting, which is an open-source alternative to AirPlay and Chromecast. Once this works with spatial audio, individuals should be able to stream audio from any device to any other device.

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