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An audio engineer explains why Dolby Atmos Music is “definitely going to supersede stereo”

AdamG247

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chelgrian

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Here’s the article: I personally love ATMOS for Movies and have explored the limited sampling of ATMOS Music available on Tidal and Amazon. I find it different and rewarding as a change of pace. What say You?

I very much hope it doesn't as it's a closed proprietary format and is technically inferior to delivering ambisonic B format audio and rendering for whatever output devices you have.

The cost of entry for even being able to mix Atmos (or indeed any immersive format) properly is prohibitive such that project studios and many independents simply would not be able to justify it.

Tidal is the only viable distribution mechanism as for Amazon you can only get it via the Echo Studio. The fact of either of them having atmos is not increasing their market share against the market leaders.
 
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AdamG247

AdamG247

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I very much hope it doesn't as it's a closed proprietary format and is technically inferior to delivering ambisonic B format audio and rendering for whatever output devices you have.

The cost of entry for even being able to mix Atmos (or indeed any immersive format) properly is prohibitive such that project studios and many independents simply would not be able to justify it.

Tidal is the only viable distribution mechanism as for Amazon you can only get it via the Echo Studio. The fact of either of them having atmos is not increasing their market share against the market leaders.

I think I can get atmos music via my Cube streaming device. But will have to re-verify that for certain. But I agree with all the potential hurdles. I say anything that brings excitement back to music production is good for the industry and us. Only time will tell. Lots of formats have tried and most failed.
 

Marmus

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Where is 134 channels of 14.76 ? That is what I was expecting. I have a few partial speakers around. Actually the infinite range of analog was not bad. Maybe set-up is getting to hard. 44.1 is even fun. Whatever makes for good sales. Never heard of a music consumer before but understand what is going on.
 

Blumlein 88

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The big deal is Atmos being object based audio. Stereo and 5 or 7 channel surround are channel based audio. You mix directly the channels in use with the expectation playback also has that many channels.

With Atmos you have 128 object based virtual channels which allow you to put every item in a mix in a particular location anywhere around the listener. The Atmos processing takes care of how to do this, and no it doesn't expect 128 channels for playback. It in theory can take the parameters of the 128 objects and process them for a variety of playback channels that are two or higher. Can it do that even with say a 5 channel surround or even a 9 channel surround with 4 height speakers? I don't know, I've not any experience with it and am skeptical how well it works especially for say a soundbar. I can believe it may work pretty well with 5.1.4 or more channels.

We have already seen how even 5.1 systems are enough channels they don't displace stereo. There is limited adoption much of it because of the need for more channels. If anything I'd hazard a guess there are fewer two channel systems in homes than in the past. Soundbars are about all most people will put up with even while they spend money on big TVs. Most youngsters now have headphones rather than a two box two channel stereo.

I certainly hope it doesn't for reasons already mentioned that it is a proprietary closed format. I rather doubt it can replace stereo. Maybe in the sense that soundbars claim to be Atmos capable. Dolby has a long, long history of over-promising on multi-channel realism, and under delivering so they leave room to hype and invent the next new thing about every 5 years. Truth is if they thought Atmos were some sort of end game MCH system to finally displace stereo as king of the hill for a couple generations, they wouldn't release it. It would kill a cash cow for them.
 

Blumlein 88

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Hmmm. Anyone else here old enough to remember the failed Quadraphonic systems?
Yes, had one as a teenager. It did both quad LP's and quadrophonic 8 tracks. Those used both channels of track 1 and 3 or switched to track 2 and 4. Probably the only case where 8 track was higher fidelity in the sense of 4 channels. The LPs often had very little channel separation in 4 channels.
 

Easternlethal

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I would prefer to be able to choose between differently mic'd recordings (e.g single, separates, binaural, omni) than atmos. Recording is still the weakest link in the chain imo, especially with the price and variety of mics nowadays..

I think if atmos can provide us with the objects and we can cut out the recording engineer by mixing our own it would be more interesting
 

lemnoc

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They said the same thing about dolby surround Home Theater and it did for a while kill off stereo but stereo is back again with a vengeance . Guess you just can't kill it off ;)

And does anyone remember dolby surround sound on headphones ?? That never took off either !
 

Blumlein 88

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I'm going to modify all my open reel tape machines to Atmos. This is big, really big news, and I'm going to get in on the ground floor. Maybe Atmos vinyl is next. You never know....... :rolleyes:
I've not heard it, but lots and lots of people say the Atmos upmix of stereo works far better than any of the prior upmixing algorithms. See that is the thing, you don't need to make your RTR Atmos. Atmos will take the stereo and make it Atmos-like.
 

andymok

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This discussion is more relevant to binaural devices like Apple’s AirPods Max, where you have a controlled environment and can give the new experience to consumers

My film score and pop song composer friends also see the trend and desire this environment
 

chelgrian

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With Atmos you have 128 object based virtual channels which allow you to put every item in a mix in a particular location anywhere around the listener.

Theatrical Atmos actually is delivered as a (up to) 128 channel broadcast WAV file plus metadata. The file contains up one or more 9.1 'bed' tracks plus object tracks and the placement metadata. The theatrical renderer then renders the objects based on the speaker layout in the theatre in real-time.

'Home' atmos is an entirely different beast. It is specified for Dolby TrueHD (which is actually just Meridian LossLess Packeting) and lossy compressed Dolby Digital Plus. The TrueHD version is only used for UHD bluray.

Both formats can encode up to (I think) 14 channels plus the metadata stream. Again there is a 9.1 bed then In order to fit a quart in to a pint pot with the remaining 4 channels the encoding groups objects together and mixes them in to a single delivery channel which is then steered to where it's needed by metadata.

Compared to delivering 2nd order ambisonic B format, which would need 9 channels, it's a staggeringly inefficient and inaccurate way to deliver a 3D sound field the only redeeming feature is the DSP needs to render it are far lower than required for an Ambisonic format.
 

sergeauckland

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Hmmm. Anyone else here old enough to remember the failed Quadraphonic systems?
Still have one, and use it occasionally. The SQD2020 decoder I use gives about 15dB (logic enhanced) separation but is quite fun for heavily produced pop, and does give a better sense of ambiance with classical music, especially polyphonic choral music.

Getting back to Dolby Atmos, I too hope that doesn't become the norm, as proprietary systems are never good for the consumer.

S.
 

mhardy6647

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Hmmm. Anyone else here old enough to remember the failed Quadraphonic systems?
I was just thinking about quad in the context of this thread, in fact. ;)

Quad, arguably, was ahead of its time... on the other hand, quad was (also!) a shameless marketing ploy to enable the (presumably) struggling audio brands to open up a new category for growth of unit sales.

scan0002 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
 

Helicopter

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I've not heard it, but lots and lots of people say the Atmos upmix of stereo works far better than any of the prior upmixing algorithms. See that is the thing, you don't need to make your RTR Atmos. Atmos will take the stereo and make it Atmos-like.
My Marantz 4240 already does that though.
 

mhardy6647

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Theatrical Atmos actually is delivered as a (up to) 128 channel broadcast WAV file plus metadata. The file contains up one or more 9.1 'bed' tracks plus object tracks and the placement metadata. The theatrical renderer then renders the objects based on the speaker layout in the theatre in real-time.

'Home' atmos is an entirely different beast. It is specified for Dolby TrueHD (which is actually just Meridian LossLess Packeting) and lossy compressed Dolby Digital Plus. The TrueHD version is only used for UHD bluray.

Both formats can encode up to (I think) 14 channels plus the metadata stream. Again there is a 9.1 bed then In order to fit a quart in to a pint pot with the remaining 4 channels the encoding groups objects together and mixes them in to a single delivery channel which is then steered to where it's needed by metadata.

Compared to delivering 2nd order ambisonic B format, which would need 9 channels, it's a staggeringly inefficient and inaccurate way to deliver a 3D sound field the only redeeming feature is the DSP needs to render it are far lower than required for an Ambisonic format.
Now, please understand: this isn't directed at you, @chelgrian, but rather at the content of your post (which, presumably, is more or less straight from the convoluted syntax of the deep thinkers that bring us Atmos).

1616846708860.png

Perhaps with Atmos, that eventuality has, at last, arrived. :(

My Marantz 4240 already does that though.

heh-heh-heh...

Scan_Pic0048 by Mark Hardy, on Flickr
(sorry, I didn't have a scan including the 4240 ;))
 
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Helicopter

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