Toggle to Turn Spatial Audio On and Off

Recently, spatial audio support has arrived to Infuse on Mac. However, this makes it so that many of the movies I’ve been watching sound drastically different, some of which honestly sound worse with spatial audio than the original stereo version. And, for clarification, this is a problem for me with the built-in macbook speakers, not airpods/airpods max which can be turned on and off with spatial audio from the control center. The built-in macbook speakers, while relatively good at spatializing audio, sometimes makes movies sound rather echoey. Furthermore, spatial audio on the built-in speakers really only works best if you are a single person watching in front of the screen. It can sound distorted if you are too far to the left or right of the macbook, common when watching with a group, or too far away. Apple has no built-in mechanism to disable spatial audio on the built-in default macbook speakers.

Therefore, I suggest that Infuse for Mac adds a feature that either turns off the spatial audio that was enabled OR downsamples the surround sound audio into regular stereo. Ideally, this would be a toggle in the audio section of the settings of any given video. It could be placed in the “Audio Tracks” subsection as a toggle. Spatial audio can remain on by default, but there should be an option to turn it off.

This way, we get the best of both worlds. For movies/tv shows that sound better with spatial audio, it can remain on. For movies/tv shows that sound weird on the speakers or when watching with a large group, it can be turned off.

So, why does it matter?

  1. Offers greater freedom of choice to the end user
  2. Helps to remove the echoey feeling from some movies when played with spatial audio on the built-in Macbook speakers
  3. Can make movie watching better with a group of people since spatial audio on the built-in speakers are often highly targeted
  4. Makes Infuse a more enjoyable experience, since if the spatial audio sounds off or echoey for a movie/tv show, it’s really hard to watch and enjoy. At times, I have watched movies on a different video player just because I couldn’t stand the way the surround came off.

Extra note: if trying to replicate, the spatial audio only works with movies/tv shows that have surround sound tracks (7.1, 5.1, etc.) or something like Dolby Atmos. To reiterate, for movies/tv shows with these audio tracks, you cannot turn off spatial audio on a system level for the BUILT-IN macbook speakers. You can for airpods/airpods max. You will notice that surround sound movies sound significantly different on the Infuse version prior to the addition of spatial audio and the Infuse version after the addition of spatial audio on the built-in macbook speakers (those that support it of course). I am on the 16" Macbook Pro 2021 (M1 Max) with the new speaker system.