Google has finally brought spatial audio to the Pixel Buds Pro

The size and shape of the Pixel Buds Pro case makes it very easy to slip into a pocket conveniently. Photo: Andrew Liszewski | gizmodo

There’s good news for all those folks who got their hands on the latest version of the Pixel Buds Pro. Google is finally catching up to Apple, announcing that it will be adding spatial audio to its flagship earbuds. Unfortunately for all those folks who have opted for cheaper options, less expensive buds like the Pixel Buds A series still don’t get a 3D audio experience.

Google Community Manager Stefanie Frederick announced on Google’s Pixel Buds support page that spatial audio will roll out automatically to Pixel Buds Pro users on Tuesday. The company said the feature should be available to all Pixel Buds Pro users by next week. For those who don’t know, spatial audio is designed to help users immerse themselves by adding a sense of depth to sounds. With the head-tracking feature on some of these high-end earbuds, the audio should also reposition itself according to the orientation of your noggin. The effect can be hit or miss depending on the listener’s preferences.

Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski really liked the Pixel Buds Pro when he tried them out last year. However, there have been issues with spatial audio on non-Samsung Android devices. Gizmodo’s own testing of Google Spatial Audio on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 showed that there were still some issues to be resolved for audio functionality on third-party devices. These buds featured two settings, one fixed and one geared towards head-tracking, although at the time they didn’t seem to compare to Apple’s spatial audio offerings.

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We’ll need to run some tests to see how well spatial audio performs on Google’s proprietary hardware compared to other devices. In any case, only certain types of audio will work if you want to get the full experience. Google says you need content that works with 5.1+ surround sound. This means you should be able to watch most modern movies and TV shows with spatial audio enabled, but your mileage may vary depending on what you’re watching. For example, Netflix requires a premium subscription to access spatial audio.

The Google Pixel 6 and 7 series phones are already tuned for spatial audio and head tracking, according to the company.

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Google isn’t the only company updating its earbuds with spatial audio. Samsung added the feature to its Galaxy Buds 2 in a January update. Apple has been around with spatial audio for a while, having built the 3D audio experience into its $250 AirPods Pro back in 2022. The fourth iteration of the Pixel Buds Pro are $50 cheaper than Apple’s offering, but whether it can beat Apple with its multiple spatial audio profile feature remains to be seen.

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