HomeHow ToHow to Set Up Custom Spatial Audio for Your AirPods with iOS 16
How to Set Up Custom Spatial Audio for Your AirPods with iOS 16
September 23, 2022
Spatial Audio is one of the coolest tricks Apple has ever added to its headphones and earphones. It uses special sound processing to trick your ears into believing that sounds are coming from all sorts of points around you. It’s used to play Dolby Atmos content in Apple Music and other supported video and audio apps, and it sounds really good.
Even though we only have two ears, we know where sounds are coming from because sounds are changed when they interact with our ears and our head. Our brain picks 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 these subtle changes, so you “hear” sound from somewhere other than the tiny headphones stuck in your ear. With AirPods Pro, Max, and Beats Fit Pro, you can even use the built-in accelerometer to measure your head rotation and spin the sound so it stays stable relative to your position.
While this works great for most people, these algorithms were initially 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 the head and ears. With iOS 16, you can configure a Custom spatial audio profile that takes this into account more accurately, making Spatial Audio work even better. Here’s how you set it up.
Time to complete: 5 minutes
Necessary tools: iPhone with Face ID, iOS 16 or later
Materials needed: nothing
Pair your AirPods and open the case
Make sure your AirPods or Beats headphones are paired to your iPhone, then open the case near your iPhone.
Open Settings and you’ll see your AirPods or Beats headphones listed at the top. Press it.
Select “Custom Spatial Audio”
With your AirPods connected, you’ll see many options in this menu. Scroll to where you see Custom spatial audio and select it.
The following screen describes what this function does. Faucet Customize Spatial Audio… to start.
Follow the instructions to scan your head and ears
You will be guided through a step-by-step process of scanning your front-facing head and your left and right ears.
Faucet Continue and follow the instructions. It’s a bit like setting up Face ID!
When scanning your ears, move your head slowly and listen for the confirmation sound to know when the scan is complete.