Exploring 3D Audio for Headphones on Amazon Music

May 8, 2022 § Leave a comment


Following through on Amazon Music Unlimited’s “any headphones” maxim, I pulled out four options to test this theory — namely, my high-end Sennheisers, wireless Marleys, Sony ’phones I use mainly for Zoom calls, and truly old-school USB Apple earbuds — to see just how the claim stacked up. I listened to a wide selection of Amazon Music Unlimited’s spatial audio mixes in Dolby Atmos while I rotated through my headphone quartet connected with a variety of devices including my iPhone, HP laptop, and Roku Ultra. True, the better the headphones, the more immersively intense the listening experience was — but I can report if you wanna go the earbuds route, your experience will be relatively top-notch, and likely better than you might expect.

Naturally, I began my headphone sessions at the top of the spatial audio foodchain with a key selection from the irrepressible Steven Wilson. I cued up one of the best Atmos tracks from his January 2021 release The Future Bites, and one that wasn’t used in last year’s spatial audio evaluation feature — namely, the frenzied 9-minute product acquisition indictment “Personal Shopper.” The all-aswirl middle section starting around 5:20 rattled around in my head like an errant aural pinball. Here, the track’s special guest voice Elton John rattled off a litany of allegedly desirable consumer goods, starting from the center position before each subsequent item citing fanned out in all directions. I also picked up on some additional details I hadn’t focused on in previous open-air listening sessions, such as the subversively angelic/operatic vocal lines supporting Sir Elton’s declarations.

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