Microsoft Teams Now Supports Spatial Audio

Audio settings

Microsoft has unveiled an innovative feature, Spatial Audio for Teams, aiming to bring realism to audio and video conferences by emulating dynamic, real-world scenarios. This new feature is designed to enhance virtual communication and reduce the fatigue often associated with online meetings.

Spatial audio seeks to replicate face-to-face conversations by separating the voices of individual participants. By aligning the perceived audio location with the video representation of each speaker, it becomes simple to identify who is speaking and understand multiple speakers at once. This thoughtful alignment can alleviate the tiredness that many experience during prolonged virtual meetings.

In contrast, traditional video conferencing applications often rely on monophonic audio, where all participants’ voices are merged into a single channel. This dated method can strip away spatial context, making it difficult to recognize individual voices and sources of sound.

The technology employs the principle of binaural hearing, where both ears are used to detect and distinguish sounds. Spatial Audio capitalizes on the well-known “Cocktail Party Effect,” a study highlighting the brain’s ability to focus on specific speech while filtering out background noise, explained Microsoft.

Research indicates that spatial separation of voices can diminish the masking effect of overlapping sounds, consequently improving listener comprehension and memory. Depending on the device, whether loudspeakers or headsets, users might favour different spatial separation degrees.

Teams Spatial Audio is accessible on desktop applications and can be activated through the settings. Users will need a stereo-capable device, such as wired headsets or stereo-enabled laptops. Although Bluetooth devices are not currently supported, Microsoft has announced plans to support next-generation LE Audio with stereo-enabled Bluetooth devices in the future.

How to turn on Spatial Audio? Launch Teams, then go to: Settings > Devices > Spatial audio > toggle ON.

Certain limitations must be considered, such as restrictions on native Bluetooth devices, large conference calls, music mode, and live interpretation mode.

Spatial audio already is great when consuming entertainment and support for virtual meetings definitely will make them feel more lively, as they are typically boring and uninspiring versus meeting in real life.

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