When you support multichannel audio in your app, game, or audiovisual content, you can add dimensionality to your storytelling, transport listeners out of a conventional audio experience, and bring people further into the worlds you’re creating. In this challenge, we invite you to explore a soundscape in intentional stereo, stereo spatialization, and multichannel formats, consider the differences between each, and brainstorm how spatial audio could enhance your own stories.
Begin the challenge
In the demo for “Immerse your app in spatial audio,” the presenter, Simon, has his spatial audio demonstration video ‘fail’ on him. After a few moments of panic and quick thinking, he decides he’s going to describe the events of this failed video — and as he does, those events begin to come to life. In each scene, different audio techniques create a fully-imagined environment for the audience to inhabit, drawing them into Simon’s described world.
For this challenge, we’re inviting you to explore this demo and listen to the differences as you move between intentional stereo, spatialized stereo, and multichannel formats. You’ll need a pair of spatial audio-compatible accessories, like AirPods Pro, as well as a device running iOS 14 or macOS Big Sur. To explore the spatialized stereo format, you’ll need a device running iOS 15 or macOS Monterey. As you listen, consider how each version of the experience feels different.
Listen to the demo in intentional stereo
Watch the session on iOS 14 or macOS Big Sur in the Developer app or on developer.apple.com. You’ll hear this demo delivered in stereo, with visual cues on screen indicating the full surround experience.
What do you notice, listening to this experience? How does the audio shift and change as we move through each of Simon’s soundscapes?
Listen to the demo in spatialized stereo
To hear the spatialized stereo version of “Immerse your app in spatial audio,” watch this demo on a device running the iOS 15 or macOS Monterey developer betas.
How does this change the experience for the listener compared to the intentional stereo version? Are there sounds or moments you find yourself noticing that you haven’t before?
Listen to the demo in multichannel
You can stream a full multichannel mix of this demo in spatial audio on either iOS 14 or iOS 15 using the link below.
As you listen to this multichannel mix, divide the world into three distances: Background, foreground, and personal space. Think about where the sounds are coming from. What do these different distances and orientations add to the experience? How does the positioning of sound further enhance this story?
Now, think about a moment from your app, game or audiovisual content. How does the audio currently sound in this moment? How can you improve that experience by bringing distance and orientation into your soundscape? Where could supporting multichannel and spatial audio help draw people into your story?
Spatialize your experiences
With more support for spatial audio experiences coming with iOS 15 and macOS Monterey later this year, now is a great time to consider how you currently approach telling stories through audio. Listen to your stereo experiences on the developer betas and listen to how they change when played back in spatialize stereo. Consider how you can augment those existing moments by creating multichannel mixes. And explore what kinds of entirely new experiences you can provide listeners with spatial audio. For game designers, we also recommend watching “Discover geometry-aware audio with the Physical Audio Spatialization Engine (PHASE)” to learn about new ways you can create spatial audio experiences that adapt to the environment of your game.
Note: if you’re curious about experimenting further with multichannel, you can try creating a multichannel audio experience of your own by exploring the binaural and surround mixing tools in digital audio workstations (DAWs) like Logic Pro X. (To properly mix and play back your audio in surround, however, you’ll need a multichannel speaker setup.)
Want to share your thoughts on this demo, or how you’d adapt your existing experiences for spatial audio? Post in the Developer Forums using the tag “WWDC21-Challenges,” or on social media using the hashtag #WWDC21Challenges.
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