Clubhouse started the social audio trend for those who are sick and tired of video conferencing but would still like to have some sort of digital interaction with people. A lot of apps like Twitter and Facebook have created their own versions of the audio experience but the “original” is not sitting on its laurels. After rolling out messaging features and (finally) the Android app, they’re now bringing a spatial audio effect to mimic the experience of listening to other people in a room in real life.
Basically what spatial audio brings to your audio conversation is the feeling that you’re actually in the same room. It makes the different speakers sound as if they’re coming from different parts of the room instead of just one place. So if you’re part of the audience in the room, you’ll be able to hear people in 3D and because of these spatial clues, you’re able to track who’s talking especially if there are a lot of speakers during the event.
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
While this virtual audio experience on its own is sometimes much preferable than video calls and conferences. But oftentimes, the audio sounds generally flat. So clubhouse decided to come up with a feature that would simulate a real-life in-person gathering that lets you hear voices as if they’re coming from the left and right of the stage and various locations in the “audience”. Clubhouse is using an API from High Fidelity and blending it with their custom audio processing.
The spatial audio effect works best if you’re using headphones, Clubhouse says. The demo video on their blog post actually lets you hear the difference even when you’re listening without headphones or earbuds but for the full effect, it should be when you’re using some kind of audio accessory. According to Justin Uberti, the audio processing should “gently steer conversation” with their subtle but noticeable implementation of the technology.
Unfortunately for Android users, the spatial audio effect will only be available for iOS users for now. Android is “coming soon” but with no specific timeline. For those who want the “old” listening experience, you can always turn the feature off and in un the settings.