Spatial audio, also known as 3D audio, is a technology that simulates the experience of sounds coming from various directions, creating a three-dimensional audio environment. But when it comes to spatial audio, even if you're using top-notch headphones, not all streaming services can give you the best audio experience.
Why you need headphones to listen to 3D audio
Some streaming services, such as Apple Music or Deezer, are designed for high-quality listening that goes beyond what usual headphones can handle.
Since spatial audio is made to provide a more immersive and realistic audio experience, when you use headphones, the audio is delivered directly to your ears, creating a sense of directionality and depth that can be lost when using speakers.
Whta's more, 3D audio often involves techniques such as binaural audio or object-based audio, which rely on delivering slightly different audio signals to each ear to simulate the way humans naturally perceive sound direction.
Using headphones provides a private listening experience and helps isolate you from external ambient noise. This is particularly important for spatial audio, as it relies on precise audio cues that can be easily masked by environmental sounds.
If you're looking for a pair of spatial audio headphones for yourself or your loved ones, this gift guide is for you.
7 best spatial audio headphones
Apple AirPods Max Spatial Audio
AirPods Max provide an unparalleled spatial audio experience, giving an immersive 3D sound that enhances both music and video playback. The dynamic head tracking adds a new layer of realism, making it feel like the audio is coming from all around you. The compact design and seamless integration with Apple devices make them a top choice for Apple enthusiasts.
The combination of a custom acoustic design, the Apple H1 chip, and sophisticated software enhances the listening experience. With Active Noise Cancellation, you can focus on your music by blocking outside noise. Alternatively, Transparency mode lets you stay aware of your surroundings.
The personalized spatial audio adapts to your unique ear shape, complemented by dynamic head tracking for an immersive sound experience. Select songs, shows, and movies can also be enjoyed in Dolby Atmos.
The pairing process is straightforward, and the headphones intelligently pause audio when taken off. Automatic Switching makes transitioning between your iPhone, iPad, and Mac seamless.
Sony continues to lead the market with the WH-1000XM4. These over-ear headphones excel in noise cancellation and deliver a spatial audio experience that captivates the listener. The sound quality is superb, with a wide soundstage that brings music to life. The long battery life and touch-sensitive controls add to the overall convenience, making them a solid choice for audiophiles on the go.
These headphones are designed for audio use, with a frequency response ranging from 4Hz to 40,000Hz. They fall under the category of closed, dynamic headphones.
One standout feature is the incorporation of Edge-AI for an enhanced music experience, developed in collaboration with Sony Music Studios Tokyo. The headphones offer an impressive battery life, providing up to 30 hours of playback with quick charging—a 10-minute charge offers 5 hours of playback.
The WH1000XM4 comes equipped with Touch Sensor controls for convenient playback management, volume control, voice assistant activation, and handling phone calls.
In terms of connectivity, the headphones support seamless multiple-device pairing. Adaptive Sound Control further adds to the user experience, delivering a personalized listening environment.
Sennheiser HD 660 S
These open-back headphones offer a spacious and natural soundstage, perfect for those who appreciate a detailed and accurate audio reproduction. The build quality is exceptional, and the comfortable design allows for extended listening sessions without fatigue.
These headphones are of reference class, designed with an open-back and dynamic structure. The transducers have been newly improved to minimize harmonic distortion, ensuring a high-quality audio experience. Audiophiles seeking precision and clarity will find a true companion in the HD 660 S.
Bose QuietComfort 35 II
Bose's QuietComfort 35 II remains a benchmark for noise-canceling headphones. The addition of spatial audio enhances the overall listening experience, creating a sense of depth and immersion. The comfort level is superb for long wear, and the sound signature caters to a broad audience, providing a balanced and enjoyable audio profile.
These headphones offer three levels of noise cancellation and are equipped with voice access to music, information, and more, thanks to Alexa integration. The dual-microphone system ensures clear sound and effective voice pick-up.
Maintaining balanced audio performance at any volume, these headphones prioritize hassle-free Bluetooth pairing. These headphones are Bose AR enabled, presenting an innovative, audio-only version of augmented reality. For iPhone, iPad, and Android users, ensuring the product's firmware is up to date through the Bose Connect app allows access to a showcase of Bose AR enhanced apps, with links provided for download.
HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 Core
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 Core headset offers an enhanced gaming experience with DTS Headphone:X Spatial Audio for precise 3D audio spatialization and localization. The included activation code provides 2 years of access to this feature, promoting heightened perception, awareness, and immersion during gameplay.
Designed for clear in-game sound, the headset features 40mm directional drivers tuned to deliver impactful and immersive game audio, especially enhancing bass tones.
Audio controls are conveniently located on the headset itself, eliminating the need to navigate through menus to adjust the volume. The headset also boasts an adjustable solid steel slider, ensuring long-lasting durability and stability.
The HyperX Cloud Stinger 2 Core is versatile, offering multi-platform compatibility. It works seamlessly with PC, Xbox Series X|S, Xbox One, PS5, PS4, Nintendo Switch, and mobile devices with a CTIA connection. Additionally, it comes with a PC extension cable for added convenience.
This gaming headset offers personalized 360 Spatial Sound, enhancing rival detection for a precise gaming experience. Designed specifically for gaming, it ensures comfort during prolonged gaming sessions with a soft headband and smooth ear pads.
Certified by Discord, the headset facilitates clear communications through a flexible flip-up boom microphone with a mute function for added convenience. Ergonomically designed controls make operation effortless, and users can personalize their gaming experience through the INZONE Hub software.
Compatible with both PC and PlayStation 5, this headset provides versatility across different gaming platforms.
SteelSeries Arctis Nova 1P
This gaming headset, equipped with the custom-designed Nova Acoustic System and High Fidelity Drivers, delivers best-in-class audio for an immersive gaming experience. Users have the flexibility to fully customize their sound preferences with a first-of-its-kind Pro-grade Parametric EQ tailored for gaming.
The 360-degree Spatial Audio capability enhances the gaming atmosphere, allowing users to hear every crucial detail, whether it's a critical step, a reload, or a vocal cue, providing a competitive advantage. It is fully compatible with Tempest 3D Audio for PS5 and Microsoft Spatial Sound.
This headset offers multi-platform support, easily connecting to gaming consoles with a 3.5mm jack, including PlayStation, PC, Xbox, or Switch. It is also compatible with mobile devices. On-board controls provide easy adjustment of volume and muting directly on the headset for added convenience.