For every audiophile, spatial audio has been a buzz word especially with the release of the Sonos Era 300. For regular humans like us, we are reduced to being Little Miss/Mr Noddy when it is brought up. I feel you but it’s time to change that. Here’s everything you need to know about spatial audio. Go from zero to hero in just 7 minutes.
What is Spatial Audio?
Spatial audio is an immersive, three-dimensional listening experience. Using multiple channels projecting outwards from each speaker, individual sounds are placed with greater precision and variety compared to traditional stereo sound.
Eg. During a Quidditch match, you’d be able to hear the buzz of the Snitch at the exact spot it is at as it whizzes past each desperate pair of hands that tries to grab it.
Mono? Stereo? Spatial Audio?
Now, does this make the music we listen to on a daily basis, “spatial audio”? No. The music we listen to is mixed in either mono or stereo. With mono, the various elements of a song - guitar, drums, vocals etc. are combined to play through a single “stream” of audio and appears to come from the same place. Whereas, stereo separates and assigns sound elements to the two different channels, adding more space and directionality to your music. That’s why you’d be able to hear a guitar solo on the left and the vocals on the right - similar to a live concert. The technical term for that is “soundstage”. (If you ever wondered if your headphones are broken because a certain sound is only coming from one side, you’ve got your answer.)
The X factor for spatial audio is height. That’s where the third dimension comes into play. Sound will come not just from the left and right but forward and above, creating a multi-dimensional soundstage. Listen to your favorite music with more clarity, depth and detail. Experience your music.
Spatial Audio in Home Theatre Systems
To achieve a multi-channel surround sound, you’d typically need four or more rear speakers in your set up. 2 placed on the left and right of your couch and 2 more overhead. That’s insanity. 4 speakers excluding the main sound bar and subwoofer?! Eliminate the need for that clutter with Sonos Era 300 speakers. There are upward firing drivers in the speaker that bounce sound off the ceiling as well as your regular lateral drivers.
Spatial audio on the Sonos Era 300 is powered by Dolby Atmos. A sound technology that helps to dynamically map audio objects in 3D spaces and places the objects accurately based on the speaker’s position.
Spatial Audio Visualised
For movies, spatial audio offers unprecedented realism and immersion, placing you right smack in the center of all the action. The best thing is, many people can enjoy the same experience at once since there isn’t a “sweet spot” within the room. The whole room becomes the sweet spot with sound sent in all directions, allowing you to experience rich detail no matter where you’re seated.