Apple Explains How Spatial Audio Head Tracking Will Work on Apple TV

With tvOS 15, Apple is bringing Spatial Audio to the Apple TV when the set-top box is used with AirPods Pro or AirPods Max. It has been unclear how this feature will work because the ‌Apple TV‌ does not have a U1 chip for head tracking purposes, but Apple recently gave an explanation to Engadget.

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When you’re watching a TV show or movie on the ‌Apple TV‌, the head tracking feature (powered by ‌AirPods Pro‌ or Max) detects that you’ve been looking in the same direction, calculates your probable head orientation, and activates the Spatial Audio effect. If you get up, it reactivates.

When you sit down to watch a movie or TV show, the included head tracking feature will lock in after it detects you’ve been looking in the same direction for a while. Once you get up to walk around, it will reactivate.

Spatial Audio will work with stereo, 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos content, and connecting the AirPods to an ‌Apple TV‌ that’s running tvOS 15 has been streamlined. When you’re wearing AirPods and are near the ‌Apple TV‌, you’ll see an on-screen popup that will let you connect with a click of the remote.

Spatial Audio is designed to provide a theater-like listening experience with sound that seems to come from all around you. tvOS 15 is also gaining new SharePlay features for watching TV with friends over FaceTime calls and support for pairing two HomePod mini speakers to an ‌Apple TV‌.

Related Roundup: Apple TV
Buyer's Guide: Apple TV (Caution)

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Top Rated Comments

dribeiro Avatar
39 months ago
I’m not sure why everybody seems to think a U1 chip is required for Spatial Audio with head tracking. The feature exists today on iPads without a U1.
Score: 15 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Think|Different Avatar
39 months ago
I’m using it right now and it’s just as “magic“ as it feels when I have been using it on my iPad — true late night game changer in this house.
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Lumpy05 Avatar
39 months ago
Not a gimmick, spatial audio is most convincing surround sound effect in a headphone I have ever heard.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jonblatho Avatar
39 months ago
Head tracking has generally been more of a nuisance to me than a “feature,” particularly for music. Wish it could be disabled separately from Spatial Audio.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SilverRubicon Avatar
39 months ago

Head tracking has generally been more of a nuisance to me than a “feature,” particularly for music. Wish it could be disabled separately from Spatial Audio.
Head tracking on the Apple TV seems like a nuisance and unnecessary in the best of circumstances. Maybe games could make use of it but movies/tv? Hard pass. Spatial audio (aka Dolby Atmos) sure but not head tracking.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ErikGrim Avatar
39 months ago

Not sure what you are listening to… but the track you mentioned is not even listed as lossless, let alone spatial audio. Head tracking as far as I know will be enabled by the years’ end.
It's enabled right now on iOS15. Also Abbey Road is an album, not a track.



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Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)