In today’s remote economy, there are lots of people who hold meetings and collaborate with colleagues and clients virtually. You probably know what this is like–many people trying to talk at the same time, difficulties figuring out who the speaker is, and struggles with background noise. Spatial audio can help you improve the audio experience during virtual meetings and conferences. This helps to ensure that meetings run smoothly and participants are all on the same page.
What is spatial audio? Spatial audio refers to the process of placing different voices in different locations around the room. Essentially, the sound can be rendered at different locations to make it feel like everyone is sitting in a seat around a conference table. With spatial audio, you can appoint a virtual location to every participant in the conference to make it sound like participants’ voices are coming from multiple locations, making it easier for everyone to orient themselves and communicate effectively. Additionally, spatial audio can help facilitate Audio/Video congruence to further optimize the participants’ experience. Here’s an example of how AV congruence works — you’re on a video conference and the speaker is presented on the left side of your screen, with AV congruence, their voice would be heard on your left.
What does spatial audio actually do?
Spatial audio is often referred to as virtual surround sound because spatial audio replicates the experience of being surrounded by several audio sources. Because you have two ears, your brain can determine the direction and source of a sound. If you know something is coming from the left, your left ear will hear it first and your right ear will hear it second. This pattern allows you to define where sound comes from.
Spatial audio extends this capability to speakers. If you put different speakers in a room, the sound will originate from different locations. Regardless of whether you are watching a movie, enjoying a TV show, or trying to hold a meeting, the time it takes for a sound to reach your ears varies depending on its origin. Using spatial audio, it is possible to make different sounds that originate from different speakers at different points in time. This makes the environment more realistic and immersive for participants.
There are several types of spatial audio that are designed for different purposes and devices. For example, you may have heard of spatial audio for Apple, and perhaps you wondered what Apple spatial audio is. This refers to a 360-degree sound format that makes it possible to hear in surround sound using AirPods.
Another type of spatial audio is head tracked spatial audio. So what is head tracked spatial audio? You can use head tracking through spatial audio to make specific movies, shows, and music seem like they are coming from different directions within a soundscape. This gives the audio a sense of directiona and an immersive experience, and allows the surround sound functionality to react to your head movements.
How do I enable Dolby.io spatial audio?
First, you need to make sure you have the necessary hardware. To hear Dolby.io spatial audio, all you need is a pair of wired headphones. Bluetooth headphones and speakers generally don’t offer stereo output while the microphone is enabled and as a result, produce a sub-optimal experience.
Once you have your wired headphones ready to go, we can help you enable spatial audio using your web applications. You can take advantage of some of the Dolby.io Communications APIs to can dramatically improve the quality of participants’ listening experience. Developers can use these APIs to place conference participants in different locations on the screen, making it sound like they are talking to you from different locations around a room.
To enable spatial audio and enjoy Spatial Placement and 3D rendered audio through your web browser, there are a few steps you need to follow:
- Start by heading to your Dolby dashboard. There, you will create a new application.
- Go into the final folder of the GitHub repository and get the source code from the sample application.
- Run the application and begin using spatial audio.
Clearly, spatial audio has the ability to significantly improve your listening experience. While it may seem complicated, setting spatial audio up is fairly simple and it can make a major difference, regardless of whether you are listening to music, watching a movie, or taking part in a meeting or conference.
Dolby.io launched Communications SDK version 3.6 with enhanced spatial audio. These features can help you build a virtual world, create a virtual conference, and enjoy spatial audio mixing in the cloud.
Our team of experts is here to help you maximize your listening experience. Feedback or Questions? Reach out to the team on Twitter, LinkedIn, or via our support desk.