iPhone Phones Software

Why is Spatial Audio not working on my iPhone?

If you're not hearing the benefits of Spatial Audio, you may need to read this and find out why

Spatial Audio for Apple Music was launched in June 2021, making use of Dolby Atmos recordings to create an immersive, surround sound. What’s often misunderstood is that this will work with any headphones, including Apple’s AirPods and Beats.

But how can you check if it’s working and, if not, what can you do?

Check that Apple Music Spatial Audio is switched on

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, head into Settings > Music > Dolby Atmos.
  2. You should have this set to either “Automatic” or “Always On”. “Automatic” will only make use of Dolby Atmos when the connecting hardware supports it and “Always On” will switch it on irrespective of the headphones. If you’re not using one of the compatible devices (see below), then select “Always On”.
Dolby Atmos settings on iPhone

Spatial Audio Compatible Devices

The following headphones will switch on Dolby Atmos automatically when using them in the “Automatic” mode that we mentioned above:

  • AirPods (1st, 2nd or 3rd generation), AirPods Pro, AirPods Max
  • BeatsX, Beats Solo3 Wireless, Beats Studio3, Powerbeats3 Wireless, Beats Flex, Powerbeats Pro, Beats Solo Pro, Beats Studio Buds or Beats Fit Pro
  • The built-in speakers on an iPhone XS or later (except iPhone SE), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch, or iPad Air (4th generation)

How can I tell if Spatial Audio is playing?

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, launch Apple Music and play some music that is labelled with “Dolby Atmos”. Apple has a playlist of Spatial Audio music too.
  2. Head into Control Centre (depending on device, this is accessible by dragging down from the top-right of the screen, or up from the bottom)
  3. Press and hold the volume control slide to get a full screen version
  4. At the bottom are buttons for controlling Spatial Audio and Noise Cancellation
Spatial audio settings for iPhone
  1. If it shows “Spatial Audio Not Playing” then this means that, even if your device is playing Spatial Audio, the compatible headphones are not playing it

Why Spatial Audio may not be playing

  1. On your iPhone or iPad, head into Settings > Accessibility > Audio/Visual
  2. Is Mono Audio switched on? If so, this is the cause. Turn it off to restore Spatial Audio
Mono audio setting for iPhone
Nokia Essential Wireless Headphones

What’s a safe volume level for headphones?

About the author

David Artiss

Currently working for a technology company based in San Francisco, David has worked in IT for nearly 30 years. He is a keen gamer and happily admits to being a gadget nerd too.

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  • Wow, it worked. Mono? I wouldn’t have thought the iPhone was set to that. I LOVE my Headphones, again. Thanks for the Fix! Aug. ‘22

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