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AirPlay to gain Dolby Atmos support for third-party speakers

10 Jun 2024 | Rasmus Larsen |

Apple has announced that its wireless AirPlay system will be upgraded to support Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos for HomePod and compatible third-party audio devices.

Today, AirPlay – Apple's alternative to Google Cast – is limited to conventional stereo audio. This means that when you transfer music from an iPhone or iPad to speakers or a receiver with built-in AirPlay, you miss out on lossless quality and Dolby Atmos.

Later this year, AirPlay will be updated to support Dolby Atmos. Apple made the announcement in a press release during WWDC 24:

- "AirPlay adds Spatial Audio so users can get an immersive audio experience, including support for Dolby Atmos, when using AirPlay to stream audio from iPhone and iPad to HomePod and compatible third-party audio equipment," announced Apple.


Movies and music in Atmos?

The company did not provide further details, but the announcement suggests that it will only work with iPhone and iPad initially – not with Apple TV connecting to AirPlay speakers (Atmos already works from Apple TV to HomePods). It did not specify if it will work with both movies and music in Dolby Atmos, but we assume that it will at minimum work with music at launch. Also read: tvOS 18 brings 21:9 support, on-device Siri, Enhance Dialogue for TVs & AirPods

Sonos Era 300

Will Sonos speakers get Dolby Atmos over AirPlay? We'll have to wait to find out. Photo: Sonos

Which speakers and devices?

The only speaker mentioned by Apple was the HomePod. The HomePod already supports Dolby Atmos, just not when you are transferring music via AirPlay (it needs a direct connection to the Apple Music server). There are many AirPlay-enabled speakers on the market today from brands such as Sonos, Bang & Olufsen, Bluesound, Bose, B&W, Harman, JBL, KEF, Loewe, Philips, Samsung, and many more. Hopefully, Dolby Atmos over AirPlay will be widely supported on third-party speakers, but we assume that they will need updates, which is a job for the manufacturers.

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