With its upcoming Galaxy Buds Pro, Samsung is planning to counter one of the differentiating features of Apple’s AirPods Pro (and now AirPods Max): spatial audio. Spatial audio crams an immersive, surround sound-like experience into a set of earbuds or headphones. And it accurately keeps the sound source anchored to your iPhone or iPad, so if you turn your head, you’ll notice that the audio stays in front of you. Wherever you move the device, that’s where it’ll sound like the audio track is coming from.
But Samsung seems to be readying its own take on spatial audio. As is becoming oddly common, the company’s mobile Galaxy Buds app has prematurely spilled some of Samsung’s latest earbud tricks. As noted by 9to5Google, an updated version of the app was found on Samsung’s servers with screenshots and features for the unannounced Galaxy Buds Pro. One of those new software capabilities is referred to as “3D audio for videos,” and the app says this will let you “hear vivid, immersive sound coming from all directions so you feel like you’re right in the scene when you watch videos.” Yep, sounds like spatial audio.
There’s also this note: “To get the best experience, keep your earbuds near your phone.” According to a teardown of the app, it looks as though Samsung will try to replicate the positional awareness / head-tracking aspect as well. Apparently, you’ll need a Samsung phone running Android 11 or newer for the feature to work. Other headphones (like those from Sony) offer 3D audio, but this is for music rather than movies from streaming apps.
The app also reveals that the Galaxy Buds Pro will have a “voice detect” feature that automatically enables transparency mode and lowers the volume of your audio when the earbuds sense that you’re speaking. Again, Sony has something similar to this on its 1000XM4 headphones where music immediately pauses when you start talking.
The Galaxy Buds Pro are expected to be announced in January alongside the Galaxy S21 series at the next Unpacked event.