Clubhouse began rolling out a iOS app update on Sunday that enables spatial audio support. The Android update is “coming soon,” according to the company. The feature works by introducing subtle spatial cues that position speakers on Clubhouse calls into three-dimensional space around your head, making the remote listening experience a better approximation of being in a room full of people. It works best with headphones, either Bluetooth or wired.
Clubhouse tweeted out a video allowing you to hear for yourself how it sounds.
Hear ye, hear ye spAAaAaAatial audio on Clubhouse!
It’s like surround sound, but w/ your own headphones. A more vibrant, human experience! Plus makes it much easier to tell who’s talking.
— Clubhouse (@Clubhouse) August 29, 2021
Clubhouse’s implementation of spatial audio first assigns a specific position to each speaker and then evenly distributes them around a room. It then applies HRTFs, or head related transfer functions, similar to what we’ve seen used by Microsoft in the HoloLens to make it seem like you’re in the center of a conversation. Clubhouse’s implementation doesn’t include head tracking like Apple’s, which makes audio from Netflix and Apple TV Plus shows seem like it’s coming from your playback device as you move your head.
Spatial audio is having a moment in 2021 after Apple embraced it across the company’s product lines. Sony added 3D audio to the PS5, and followed the launch of the Amazon Echo Studio with its own object-based 360-degree speaker this year. Even Verizon is getting in on the game.