You know spatial audio has quite a moment when wireless carriers decide to make their own implementations of it. Verizon announced a new sound feature called Verizon Adaptive Sound, claiming that it “creates a brilliant spatial surround experience regardless of which headphone, soundbar, or earphone brand you’re using, or whatever application you’re watching or listening to.”
The audio trick that Verizon says has been in the works since 2019 is coming first on Motorola phones, including the new Motorola One 5G UW Ace, which hits stores July 8th. The Motorola Edge Plus has also just received a firmware update that appears to add this feature. as noted by Droid life.
Verizon Adaptive Sound is built right into the Settings menu on Android devices in the Sound section. From there you can adjust the sliders for Treble, Bass, Speech Enhancement, and Spatial Surround Sound. For those who prefer to ignore VAS completely and hear everything normally, it can be turned on or off in the settings.
“While some technology solutions have tried to deliver premium sound experiences to some specific (usually expensive) devices and a limited subset of content, most devices and content experiences have been relegated to a disjointed, suboptimal, and lowest common denominator -like experience,” said a Verizon- Speakers emailed in an obvious reference to Apple, Sony and Amazon. “We wanted to change that.” Some devices that offer 360-degree audio actually do so come with a premium.
Verizon Adaptive Sound is based on “an innovative software and cloud-based solution,” said a spokesman. This is on the vague side so I asked the carrier for more details on exactly how it works and how it works. Is that just some kind of tricky, fake virtual surround effect? Or does it downmix Dolby Atmos channels (if available) to create the sound profile similar to Apple’s spatial audio?
Apple Spatial Audio works with the AirPods Earbuds and AirPods Max Headphones to create immersive surround sound with head tracking while watching TV shows and movies in supported apps. The company has lately added spatial audio to its Apple Music servicealthough the results are very contradicting.
The big talking point from Verizon seems to be universal support for hardware and streaming services. But until we can try Verizon Adaptive Sound for ourselves on one of these Moto devices, we can’t say how it compares to existing approaches.
According to Verizon, the feature will “be made available in the future on a broader portfolio of new devices as well as on some existing devices via an over-the-air software update.” My initial guess was that we’ll see this mostly on entry-level and mid-range 5G phones, but the carrier told me it won’t be specific to budget devices. Does that mean Verizon is forcing this into the sound settings of something like Samsung’s Galaxy S21? For now, Motorola is the only partner named.