Apple Music beats Spotify with spatial audio sessions for your AirPods

Apple's exclusive live sessions will be streamed in Apple's Spatial Audio to make you feel like you're there

Tenille Townes: Apple Music Sessions - EP
(Image credit: Apple)

Apple Music has a new weapon in its war on Spotify, and it's good news for anyone with AirPods (3rd Gen), AirPods Pro or AirPods Max: its new and exclusive Apple Music Sessions, which will feature some of the world's best artists, are going to be streaming in Spatial Audio. That's the head tracking technology that knows where your head is pointing and which adjusts the audio accordingly to make it feel more lifelike.

I think this is a smart move, because while Spatial Audio is available on all kinds of music from Taylor Swift to LF System, I think it works best for live performances. It's the closest thing to being there; all you need to do is stand behind a giant and pour beer down your back and you'd think you were at the gig.

Apple Music Sessions are available now, and the first releases have a distinct twang: the sessions, by Carrie Underwood and Tenille Tones, were recorded in Nashville where Apple's built a state-of-the-art recording facility.

What to expect from Apple Music Sessions

Underwood and Townes are brilliant artists and performers and their new Apple Music Sessions are spectacular – Underwood's Ghost Story gave my goosebumps goosebumps – but if country isn't your thing don't worry: Apple isn't planning a release schedule that's heavy on the rootin' and tootin' forever: while the focus is currently on Nashville with artists such as Ronnie Dunn and Ingrid Andress lined up for future sessions, Apple also intends to expand the series to cover other genres and to focus on emerging artists as well as big names.

I think these sessions are a good idea: it isn't just a way to differentiate Apple Music from Spotify; it's also a way to promote the Spatial Audio tech in Apple's various flavours of earbuds, and it's a genuinely interesting way to experience music. When 3D audio is done well, for example in the Dolby Atmos remaster of REM's Automatic For The People, the Spatial Audio version of Taylor Swift's Willow or in these new Apple Music Sessions, it adds a wonderful sense of space and place. It's what your AirPods were made for.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).