Samsung and Google team up on IAMF spatial audio format to rival Dolby Atmos

Mike Wheatley

Samsung and Google are combining their considerable expertise to take on Dolby Atmos in the spatial audio space, creating a new standard for immersive sound.


The two partners have reportedly been working on their new Immersive Audio Model and Formats (IAMF) standard since 2020, and it’s getting close to prime time.

SungHee Hwang, of the visual technology team at Samsung Research, said he envisions that the standard will eventually come to be recognized as “Samsung Sound”.

Samsung explained that the IAMF standard provides a way for device makers to use soundbars and speakers, including TV and external speakers, in tandem to replicate 3D sound and deliver immersive audio as intended by its creators. As a huge bonus, the standard is open source, meaning any device manufacturer can adopt it.

According to WooHyun Nam of Samsung Research, the open nature of the standard is a key point for the company, as it’s necessary for people to freely create content with 3D audio technology. “Providing a complete open source framework for 3D audio, from creation to delivery and playback, will allow for even more diverse audio content experiences in the future,” he said.

Samsung revealed that IAMF is also the first open-source audio codec to support vertical sound positioning, which means sound can be pitched above and below, as well surrounding users. The standard makes use of artificial intelligence algorithms to intelligently adjust the audio during playback to highlight key elements. So if there’s an action scene with a blaring soundtrack, that could be emphasized. But when there’s dialogue, it will focus more on the clarity of what’s being said.

There are customization options for users to tune the audio to their own preference too, Samsung said. So, if someone is watching a football match, the viewer can choose between the commentary or the atmosphere, reducing or switching off one to focus on the other.


In October, the Alliance for Open Media officially adopted the IAMF standard as its first open-source offering.

With the launch of IAMF, Samsung and Google are making a bid to disrupt the industry for 3D spatial audio and make the technology more broadly available to consumers, so everyone can enjoy more immersive sound experiences. Because it plans to make the technology so accessible, it could mean that the days of not being able to hear what actors are saying due to the background noise a thing of the past. Viewers would also jump out of their seats at the realism of shock events, such as when someone unexpectedly fires a gun during a movie scene.

The IAMF standard is still a very nascent development, but it’s also a very promising one to watch.