There’s good news for all those folks who picked up the last version of the Pixel Buds Pro. Google’s finally catching up to Apple and announced it will add spatial audio to its flagship earbuds devices. Unfortunately for all those folks who went for cheaper options, less expensive buds like the Pixel Buds A-Series still won’t get any 3D audio experience.
Google community manager Stefanie Frederick announced on the Google’s Pixel Buds support page that spatial audio should start rolling out to Pixel Buds Pro users automatically on Tuesday. The company said that, by next week, the feature should be available for all Pixel Buds Pro users. For those who don’t know, spatial audio is supposed to help user immersion by adding a sense of depth to sounds. With the head tracking capability on some of these high-end earphones, the audio should also reposition according to the orientation of your noggin. The effect can be hit or miss depending on the listener’s preferences.
Gizmodo’s Andrew Liszewski quite liked the Pixel Buds Pro when he tried them out last year. But there have been issues with spatial audio on non-Samsung Android devices. Gizmodo’s own tests of Google spatial audio on the OnePlus Buds Pro 2 showed there were still some kinks to work out for the audio feature on third-party devices. Those buds featured two settings, one fixed and one geared toward head tracking, though at the time it did not seem on par with Apple’s spatial audio offerings.
We’ll need to do some testing to see how well spatial audio works on Google’s proprietary hardware versus any other device. In any case, only certain kinds of audio work if you want to get the full experience. Google said you’ll need content that works with 5.1+ surround sound. This means you should be able to watch most modern movies and TV with spatial audio enabled, but your mileage may vary based on what you’re watching. For instance, Netflix requires a premium subscription to access spatial audio.
The Google Pixel 6 and 7-series phones are already built to incorporate spatial audio and head tracking, according to the company.
Google’s not the only company to update its earbuds with spatial audio. Samsung added the feature in a January update to its Galaxy Buds 2. Apple’s been on the ball for a while with spatial audio, having included the 3D audio experience in 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 profiles feature is still up in the air.