If you thought Dolby Atmos was just for movies and music, think again. Audiobook provider Audible has partnered up with Dolby Laboratories to bring an immersive spatial audio experience to some of your favourite audiobooks.
Audible is already one of the best ways to listen to audiobooks, with an unrivalled catalogue and a range of different membership options. Now it's adding another string to its bow, with Dolby Atmos sound to draw you further in to a story and put you at the centre of the action.
If you don't know what Dolby Atmos is, we have a Dolby Atmos feature that can bring you up to speed, but it is ultimately a spatial sound technology, which adds in height channels to a traditional surround sound presentation.
That aim is to create a 3D soundscape, where sounds can be placed all around you, as well as overhead. The result is a more realistic and immersive sound that heightens your experience, whatever it is you're listening to.
Dolby Atmos has been used to huge success in movies, but more recently with music. Now Audible hopes to bring that same experience to the forefront with audiobooks, for an even more powerful listen.
What do I need to listen to Audible with Dolby Atmos?
The great thing is that all Audible subscribers worldwide can access Dolby Atmos-enabled audiobooks - you don't need to pay any more or be on a special subscription.
However, you will need a source device that supports Dolby Atmos playback. There is a full list on Audible's support page - but here's a brief overview at the time of writing.
If you have an Apple device running iOS 15.1 or later, you should be in luck. That includes:
- iPhone 7 or later
- iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later)
- iPad Pro 11-inch
- iPad Air (3rd generation or later)
- iPad (6th generation or later)
- iPad mini (5th generation or later)
The built-in speakers on an iPhone XS or later (except iPhone SE), iPad Pro 12.9-inch (3rd generation or later), iPad Pro 11-inch or iPad Air (4th generation or later) can play back Atmos natively, but otherwise you will need headphones.
To be honest, we'd recommend this for the best experience anyway - and any headphones you own will support Atmos playback, so you don’t need to buy anything new.
However, some of Apple's headphones can optimise your spatial audio experience further, with iOS Dynamic Head Tracking - and Audible supports this too.
When this feature is activated, not only does sound come from all around you via Atmos, it also changes in real time based on which way your head is facing, for the most realistic experience possible.
Supported headphones include AirPods (3rd generation), AirPods Pro, AirPods Max, or Beats Fit Pro. You can read more about that in our Apple Spatial audio feature.
Android phone and tablet owners will need to check directly with their manufacturer for Atmos compatibility, but Audible points out that Google Pixel devices are not supported at this time. While they support spatial audio, this is a spatialised version of Dolby Digital Plus, not Atmos.
A couple of the Amazon Fire tablets are supported - namely the Kindle Fire HCX 8.9 via connected headphones, and the Amazon Fire HD 10.
How to listen to audiobooks on Audible with Dolby Atmos
Now you know you have a device that supports Dolby Atmos playback, you simply need to load up the Audible app or website and search its catalogue for supported titles.
Just type in Dolby Atmos to the search bar to see a list of compatible titles - these will have the Dolby Atmos badge next to them as well, so you can see at a glance that it is supported.
Additionally, look out for the 'Listen in Dolby Atmos' carousels that you'll sometimes see on the Audible Discover page for inspiration. You’ll see a Dolby Atmos badge in the app player when you’re playing a Dolby Atmos title.
If you're already listening to a title that has since been updated to include Dolby Atmos, you will have access to the updated soundtrack immediately - just click play and the updated version will be streamed.
For downloaded books, you will need to re-download it to get the updated Atmos version - but you won't lose your listening position when you do.
Just remember - Dolby Atmos soundtracks will be larger file sizes than regular ones. If you're streaming your audiobook, be mindful at your data usage if you're not connected to Wi-Fi - if you're downloading, just make sure you have space on your device.
Dolby Atmos titles available on Audible
There are almost 50 titles currently available to listen to with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.
These include classics like The Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen (starring Little Mix's Leigh-Ann Pinnock) and Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens (with Succession's Brian Cox as Fagin and Sam Mendes as executive producer), dark fantasy novel The Sandman: Act III by Neil Gaiman (with James McAvoy and Bridgerton's Regé-Jean Page) and a number of horror novels, like Susan Hill's The Woman in Black - which should make great use of the Atmos effects.
There are also some live shows from the likes of Ali Stroker, Faith Salie and Alan Cumming, Audible's Sleep Sound series and some family listens too, including The Mystwick School of Musicraft by Jessica Khory and The Ice Children by M.G. Leonard.
You can see the full, and most up to date, list of titles on the Audible website.