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I don't think serious music mastering is ever going to adopt Dolby Atmos to replace stereo.

randyman

Experienced
I think there’s a major marketing problem with using the name “Dolby Atmos” to describe both:

a. the true multi-channel, multi-speaker surround system (including speakers for height) used both in theaters and in sophisticated home surround systems, and

b. the 2-channel headphone or speaker-based pseudo-surround (ooh! you can hear the trumpet magically move behind you!) now being flogged in various ways, like Apple’s Spatial Audio, etc.

And even that second version breaks down into two variants: the one that uses Air Pods for head tracking and pans the stereo image to match, and the aforementioned ersatz pseudo-surround.

I master true surround in my project studio. I’ve assembled a six speaker, six-channel Crown amp system for live performance, and am mastering backing tracks to support it, with computer control to animate motion of live stereo sources like the Axe-FX III and various live synths.

I feel that trying to pass off two-channel delivery systems as some kind of “real surround” is snake oil. Yes, you can create psychoacoustic effects that mimic binaural spatial effects, but in the long run,

I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it. And you damn kids stay off my lawn!
 
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RevDrucifer

Power User
I think there’s a major marketing problem with using the name “Dolby Atmos” to describe both:

a. the true multi-channel, multi-speaker surround system (including speakers for height) used both in theaters and in sophisticated home surround systems, and

b. the 2-channel headphone or speaker-based pseudo-surround (ooh! you can hear the trumpet magically move behind you!) now being flogged in various ways, like Apple’s Spatial Audio, etc.

And even that second version breaks down into two variants: the one that uses Air Pods for head tracking and pans the stereo image to match, and the aforementioned ersatz pseudo-surround.

I master true surround in my project studio. I’ve assembled a six speaker, six-channel Crown amp system for live performance, and am mastering backing tracks to support it, with computer control to animate motion of live stereo sources like the Axe-FX II and various live synths.

I feel that trying to pass off two-channel delivery systems as some kind of “real surround” is snake oil. Yes, you can create psychoacoustic effects that mimic binaural spatial effects, but in the long run,

I say it’s spinach, and I say the hell with it. And you damn kids stay off my lawn!

Man, I'd love to hear that kind of setup in person!!!
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
I didn't want to like it. I was ready to wave it away as pretty gimicky. But, uh, I really, really like it. Doesn't work for every track its been applied to so far, but when it does work it's something special.

Riders on the Storm -- it's like sitting inbetween the four of them in the studio while the finish the 10th take.

That rework of Tom Sawyer on my Atmos home theater sounds incredible. Instruments move in nice ways around me and sounds are placed well. The use of the center channel, in particular, for the vocals is really nice.

I really want to see Pulse re-mixed for Atmos now. That would kick ass.
 

randyman

Experienced
Man, I'd love to hear that kind of setup in person!!!
I’m working on it! It’s going to take a while for me to have enough material to gig with, but I’ll let people know when it’s ready … and if you’re near RI, come check it out. It sounds great in my studio, so far … (IMHO)

I’ve been doing this since the early ’70s, when Brown’s electronic music studio had four Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater speaker enclosures in the corners of the room, and a system of joysticks that would let you control live mixes …

Let’s just say a lot of time was spent doing, um … extracurricular research in the wee hours of the morning down in that studio basement.
 
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randyman

Experienced
iarsee – it sounds like you’ve been listening (to say, Tom Sawyer) on an actual multi-speaker surround system. I’m totally into that. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

Have you heard it (“it” meaning Dolby Atmos) with nothing but headphones or a set of stereo speakers?
 
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randyman

Experienced
Please discuss amongst yourselves!

I forgot to mention – specifically – that I’m feeling a little verklempt about the yoots of today having inferior “surround®” being foisted off on them as the “real thing.”

And I’ve been living in Rhode Island since 1973, so I don’t want to hear any malarky about “neither a road, nor an island,” all right?
 

Greg Ferguson

Fractal Fanatic
I feel that trying to pass off two-channel delivery systems as some kind of “real surround” is snake oil. Yes, you can create psychoacoustic effects that mimic binaural spatial effects, but in the long run,
It's definitely not snake oil.

With two ears, i.e., two sources, we're able to determine when something is above, in-front or behind or to one side or the other. They've been working on how to encode that information into sound to be emitted by two speakers for years; The first mention I remember was in Popular Science probably forty years ago and have been watching for it for a long time.

This is interesting reading...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sound_localization, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Head-related_transfer_function and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perceptual-based_3D_sound_localization
 
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RevDrucifer

Power User
I’m working on it! It’s going to take a while for me to have enough material to gig with, but I’ll let people know when it’s ready … and if you’re near RI, come check it out. It sounds great in my studio, so far … (IMHO)

I’ve been doing this since the early ’70s, when Brown’s electronic music studio had four Altec Lansing Voice of the Theater speaker enclosures in the corners of the room, and a system of joysticks that would let you control live mixes …

Let’s just say a lot of time was spent doing, um … extracurricular research in the wee hours of the morning down in that studio basement.

You’ve got a couple years before I move back to South Shore Mass!
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
iarsee – it sounds like you’ve been listening (to say, Tom Sawyer) on an actual multi-speaker surround system. I’m totally into that. (Correct me if I’m wrong.)

Have you heard it (“it” meaning Dolby Atmos) with nothing but headphones or a set of stereo speakers?
I've tried it both on my Atmos home theater setup and with my AirPod Pro Max headphones. I liked both experiences.

@randyman if you use at at sign in front of my handle I'll get a notification when you mention me BTW.
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
feel that trying to pass off two-channel delivery systems as some kind of “real surround” is snake oil. Yes, you can create psychoacoustic effects that mimic binaural spatial effects, but in the long run,
It's really not snake oil. I've used Atmos with 2-channel headphones for years now for video game audio and it is remarkably good at positioning audio in three dimensional space with only two drivers.

Is it magic? Potentially. But only because I don't understand it.
 
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mr_fender

Axe-Master
punch a donkey

Stop the Hate! :p

3bf71e81a80145f2f82c5167c1a045f6.jpg
 

David Houck

Experienced
I saw Pink Floyd live on the Pulse tour, in surround, and I'd punch a donkey to get to experience that again and again and again in my basement on my home theater. It was amazing.

Actually, I should see if they have a DVD mixed in surround...doh.

(Hope this isn't too much of a thread hijack) I saw Pink Floyd on the Dark Side of the Moon tour in quad.

Perhaps a bit more on point to the thread, more spatial distinction between instruments would be nice, but I would still want them in front of me as if I was watching a four piece band in a small club.

And perhaps a little further off point, some say one of the best live band sounds was mid-70's Grateful Dead where each instrument had it's on speaker column. (Saw that one too, but remember very little) Something like that would be nice!
 

tealtonerick

Inspired
My original statement is rooted in the very long tradition that serious studio recordings have generally respected the assurance of the source music being able to be reproduced with performance integrity and as faithfully as possible in the live environment. As a musician, I believe that studio recordings exist to support the live environment as the only place where the "real" music actually exists.

While a spatial presentation of a music recording may sound cool sitting in the living room in a carefully chosen position among many distributed speakers, that's just not the reality for every single listener in a club, or a theater, or an arena. That is what really counts in my opinion. The stereo soundstage is as close to ideal as possible in reproducing music coming from a unified directional source at one end of a venue. This is the way it is principally intended to be heard by most who are doing it for a living and don't have Pink Floyd resources at their disposal. No?

This is not to say that Atmos or any surround system isn't interesting, particularly in the movie theatre where much more sound than music can be spatially oriented in sync with video frames. Even then, this experience is still not very consistent for every seating position in the space. But I just don't believe that anything like Atmos will take over from the production of high quality music stereo recordings in the future, formulaic "yoot" pop noises notwithstanding of course.

I predict that ultimately, the immersion gimmick for any serious music will pass in fairly short order as long as actual real live music, played by singular musicians on actual real live instruments located in one position on a stage is still in practical demand by fairly large groups of gathered listeners. They mostly want to experience the same sounds in the same way that the recordings preview at home. For the most part, it is just not practical to provide everyone live with the same immersion experience from their living rooms.

The alternative of course is to just kill actual live music altogether and burrow yet deeper into the cold isolation of virtual space as our primary source of musical communication??
 

iaresee

Administrator
Moderator
My original statement is rooted in the very long tradition that serious studio recordings have generally respected the assurance of the source music being able to be reproduced with performance integrity and as faithfully as possible in the live environment. As a musician, I believe that studio recordings exist to support the live environment as the only place where the "real" music actually exists.

While a spatial presentation of a music recording may sound cool sitting in the living room in a carefully chosen position among many distributed speakers, that's just not the reality for every single listener in a club, or a theater, or an arena. That is what really counts in my opinion. The stereo soundstage is as close to ideal as possible in reproducing music coming from a unified directional source at one end of a venue. This is the way it is principally intended to be heard by most who are doing it for a living and don't have Pink Floyd resources at their disposal. No?

This is not to say that Atmos or any surround system isn't interesting, particularly in the movie theatre where much more sound than music can be spatially oriented in sync with video frames. Even then, this experience is still not very consistent for every seating position in the space. But I just don't believe that anything like Atmos will take over from the production of high quality music stereo recordings in the future, formulaic "yoot" pop noises notwithstanding of course.

I predict that ultimately, the immersion gimmick for any serious music will pass in fairly short order as long as actual real live music, played by singular musicians on actual real live instruments located in one position on a stage is still in practical demand by fairly large groups of gathered listeners. They mostly want to experience the same sounds in the same way that the recordings preview at home. For the most part, it is just not practical to provide everyone live with the same immersion experience from their living rooms.

The alternative of course is to just kill actual live music altogether and burrow yet deeper into the cold isolation of virtual space as our primary source of musical communication??
I was kind of in your camp. I wanted it to be a fad. Traditional mixing and mastering says mix for stereo and monitor in mono because most people listen to music in a sub-optimal setup.

But then I realized: that's pretty old thinking. In fact, given all the phones floating around now I wonder if the most prevalent way of consuming music has become through headphones. And headphones always put the listener in the ideal position for any kind of spatial presentation, stereo or otherwise. That Apple is pushing this probably says headphones dominate Apple Music based listening. They wouldn't if there wasn't data to back the move IMHO.

So there you. The world has changed.
 

Repartee41

Inspired
With how common mixing in mono-compatibility still is, I don't see how it can be very effective to mix and master for these ultra high-end dozen-speaker setups, when still many songs are played through a mono source, or at least summed to mono. Sure the tech is amazing, but I don't see it taking off.
 
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