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

Tim Link

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I'm a bit confused by what your actually doing? Do you have an Atmos capable receiver?
My understanding is the Spatial audio Atmos tracks on iTunes is designed for headphone listening?
I don't have a real Atmos receiver attached to my AppleTV, just a cheap 5.1 receiver. The signal shows up as multi-channel input on the receiver and is clearly using all 5 channels.
 

Sal1950

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That is correct from what I understand. It seems to be working.
Yep, that's correct. Atmos should be down-scaling to 5.1 for you.
I've had a full 5.2.4 Atmos rig since before I had my Apple 4k TV box or any other Atmos source so I have no idea what the scaled streams sound like.
But I am very happy to hear your enjoying it a lot. ;) The success or failure of Atmos in the marketplace will depend quite a bit on the acceptance of the sound of the files on folks who don't have Atmos capability.
 

gags11

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Just wanted to share my experience with Atmos music. I accidentally stumbled upon streaming Dolby Atmos to my home theater from my iPhone, as I was waiting for my kids to come up to our theater room, I decided to play some music, which I had not done in my HT for a long time. When I did it, I was like WTF…. ????

Looked at my phone and saw Dolby Atmos logo. I went back and did some listening test with stereo and Atmos. I’m not sure what Apple is doing, but Atmos sounds incredible in my HT that is set up for Atmos.

I have a feeling the title of the thread is correct
 

Tim Link

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Whelp, the copy protection arrangement is causing problems for me with my audio/video system, making the Dolby Atmos playback difficult. I like to run the HDMI from each source straight into the TV and then run the audio out from the TV into my receiver. It's much more convenient and flexible. BUT, Atmos multichannel won't go out through the TV's digital output, and that's annoying. I can only get 2 channel out. So, I'm doing 2 channel, running it through my computer for crosstalk elimination with a 5 speaker array, which works for all 2 channel recordings and sounds almost as good to me as the best Atmos mixes.
 

Sal1950

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I like to run the HDMI from each source straight into the TV and then run the audio out from the TV into my receiver. It's much more convenient and flexible. BUT, Atmos multichannel won't go out through the TV's digital output, and that's annoying.
Not sure why you choose to configure your system this way instead of using the AVR for input selection.
TV ARC has always been wonky and every time a new codec comes around it's broken.
YMMV
 

Tim Link

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Not sure why you choose to configure your system this way instead of using the AVR for input selection.
TV ARC has always been wonky and every time a new codec comes around it's broken.
YMMV
It seems like I'm getting better communication between devices on the TV if they are plugged straight into the TV rather than going through the receiver. If it goes through the receiver the TV just thinks everything is that one source, which I guess could be OK, but I thought I was seeing problems with recognizing HDR content. Might be I just had things set up wrong. Another concern I'm having is how to feed a digital signal into DSP for active crossovers when using something like Atmos. Is there anyway to get the individual Atmos channels in digital form to feed into a digital crossover?

Just reading up a bit, I didn't realize the TV could send audio out over the HDMI cable to the receiver. I thought HDMI only went in to the TV, never out. So, that opens up possibilities! I might be back to Atmos soon!
 

Spkrdctr

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I don't have a real Atmos receiver attached to my AppleTV, just a cheap 5.1 receiver. The signal shows up as multi-channel input on the receiver and is clearly using all 5 channels.
You should be getting a nice 5.1 surround sound mix. It usually does sound very good compared to stereo. But, if you do not have an ATMOS receiver, you shouldn't be getting ATMOS abilities. They do sell ATMOS 5.1 receivers now. I have commented on how nice a surround sound system sounds compared to stereo. It all depends to on your room/speaker setup. Getting it set up to the best sound you can usually gives you a great return on time invested.
 

Tim Link

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You should be getting a nice 5.1 surround sound mix. It usually does sound very good compared to stereo. But, if you do not have an ATMOS receiver, you shouldn't be getting ATMOS abilities. They do sell ATMOS 5.1 receivers now. I have commented on how nice a surround sound system sounds compared to stereo. It all depends to on your room/speaker setup. Getting it set up to the best sound you can usually gives you a great return on time invested.
Yeah, I wonder if I should step up to an Atmos receiver. I've got enough speakers for 9 channels now. Do you think it's still worth it even if I don't do the height channels?
 
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AdamG247

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Yeah, I wonder if I should step up to an Atmos receiver. I've got enough speakers for 9 channels now. Do you think it's still worth it even if I don't do the height channels?
I do absolutely. But I’m adventurous and love to embrace new technology. See if you have any friends or family that has a setup that you can go demo. The best method is to hear it yourself. Just have them downmix to bed channels only to see what kind of difference it makes. FYI, I started the thread and my advice might be biased. ;)
 

Tim Link

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I set up my 5 speakers for surround sound, fed the Apple TV straight into the receiver and did some listening in multi-channel. One thing that became evident quickly was that most of the music I want to listen to is still in just 2 channel format. For those mixes that were in Atmos, I noticed a strong tendency to not use the center channel for center panned vocalists, or to use a center wide type approach with a lot of the voice still coming from the front left and right with a relatively weak output from the center. I know a lot of people say they prefer that but it's not my cup of tea. Just out of curiosity I turned Atmos off in Apple Music and put the receiver in pro logic mode. To my surprise, I prefer the pro logic to many of the Atmos mixes. It steers center panned vocals strongly into the center channel and out of the side channels and that sounds a lot better to me. I think pro logic is the approach I'm looking for, and it's really not too bad! If I'm not sitting up close and listening critically, it's quite convenient. It provides a stable sound stage that sticks when I go off axis and really sounds quite good overall at a distance. I prefer it to 2 speaker playback and for the most part I prefer it or at least find it comparable to the Atmos mixes. The sound quality takes a hit with pro logic but for me that's less of a problem than the mixes I don't like.
I wonder if some receivers do a better job at pro-logic up mixing than others, or if pro logic is just the exact same algorithm regardless. Is there a "best" pro logic up-mixing device out there? Maybe a dedicated device just for the job? My receiver has Pro Logic II with it's various modes but I prefer plain vanilla pro logic.
 
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AdamG247

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I set up my 5 speakers for surround sound, fed the Apple TV straight into the receiver and did some listening in multi-channel. One thing that became evident quickly was that most of the music I want to listen to is still in just 2 channel format. For those mixes that were in Atmos, I noticed a strong tendency to not use the center channel for center panned vocalists, or to use a center wide type approach with a lot of the voice still coming from the front left and right with a relatively weak output from the center. I know a lot of people say they prefer that but it's not my cup of tea. Just out of curiosity I turned Atmos off in Apple Music and put the receiver in pro logic mode. To my surprise, I prefer the pro logic to many of the Atmos mixes. It steers center panned vocals strongly into the center channel and out of the side channels and that sounds a lot better to me. I think pro logic is the approach I'm looking for, and it's really not too bad! If I'm not sitting up close and listening critically, it's quite convenient. It provides a stable sound stage that sticks when I go off axis and really sounds quite good overall at a distance. I prefer it to 2 speaker playback and for the most part I prefer it or at least find it comparable to the Atmos mixes. The sound quality takes a hit with pro logic but for me that's less of a problem that the mixes I don't like.
I wonder if some receivers do a better job at pro-logic up mixing than others, or if pro logic is just the exact same algorithm regardless. Is there a "best" pro logic up-mixing device out there? Maybe a dedicated device just for the job? My receiver has Pro Logic II with it's various modes but I prefer plain vanilla pro logic.
It’s all about options over just 2 channels. Use the codec that sounds best in your room to you. There are some hidden settings for how much content is sent to the center speaker that might be worth exploring. But that’s the fun of this. It gives us options to choose a sound profile that can be customized to suit our tastes. Many days I just listen to 2 channel stereo. Some days Atmos and others something in between. That’s the magic of having all these options open up to us. Play and experiment and find your happy place.
 

Tim Link

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It’s all about options over just 2 channels. Use the codec that sounds best in your room to you. There are some hidden settings for how much content is sent to the center speaker that might be worth exploring. But that’s the fun of this. It gives us options to choose a sound profile that can be customized to suit our tastes. Many days I just listen to 2 channel stereo. Some days Atmos and others something in between. That’s the magic of having all these options open up to us. Play and experiment and find your happy place.
I wonder if my receiver has those options? Maybe they're under the "options" button! I see that on the remote. I'll check it out. I'm with you on the options. It's good to have them and explore them. In the past I've never found any of the upsampling schemes to be adequate, always returning to 2 channel stereo unless it was a multi channel recording. I've changed, or the equipment has changed, or both. Vanilla Pro Logic has been around for a long time so I must have heard it on my older surround receivers. I think it's funny that I've been pining for years for more music mixed and mastered in multi-channel formats, but when I get it I don't like how they mixed it.
 
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AdamG247

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I wonder if my receiver has those options? Maybe they're under the "options" button! I see that on the remote. I'll check it out. I'm with you on the options. It's good to have them and explore them. In the past I've never found any of the upsampling schemes to be adequate, always returning to 2 channel stereo unless it was a multi channel recording. I've changed, or the equipment has changed, or both. Vanilla Pro Logic has been around for a long time so I must have heard it on my older surround receivers. I think it's funny that I've been pining for years for more music mixed and mastered in multi-channel formats, but when I get it I don't like how they mixed it.
If you want, tell me the make and model number of your AVR and I can look it up for you and help explain how to access these menus. Agree they can be confusing and daunting at times.
 

spartaman64

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ive listened to atmos in amazon hd and it seems to lose detail and generally sounds weird
maybe if i had a multichannel speaker system or something it would sound better
 

Sal1950

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ive listened to atmos in amazon hd and it seems to lose detail and generally sounds weird
maybe if i had a multichannel speaker system or something it would sound better
Ah yea, that might help. :facepalm:
 

spartaman64

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Ah yea, that might help. :facepalm:
i mean thats the exact reason why it wouldnt supersede 2 channel imo the barrier to entry is just too high. you are saying i need to buy 3 more genelec 8030cs to make proper use of it? Or if i buy 5 cheap speakers would i get more enjoyment out of them with music than 2 genelecs? and most of the time i listen through headphones or iems
 
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AdamG247

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i mean thats the exact reason why it wouldnt supersede 2 channel imo the barrier to entry is just too high. you are saying i need to buy 3 more genelec 8030cs to make proper use of it? Or if i buy 5 cheap speakers would i get more enjoyment out of them with music than 2 genelecs? and most of the time i listen through headphones or iems
You can get Spacial Audio/Atmos via most headphones and IEM’s already. Is it the same? Not really but it gives you a taste of what it can sound like with actual speakers . You don’t need Genelects for surround/height channels. Go slow and dip your toes in with building up your base level speakers first. 7.1 or 7.2. If you like that and want more. Then move into some height/ceiling speakers. They can be just your average surround speaker at first.
 

lashto

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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?

https://www.musicradar.com/news/an-...music-is-definitely-going-to-supersede-stereo
Me says that guy is "definitely going to be wrong" :)

He calls some Amazon "atmos enabled" single box, ATMOS. I thought that was called MONO.
He also seems to 'forget' a few things like an ATMOS setup being 10x more expensive and 100x more trouble. I like my 5.1 but not sure if I'll ever go further.
Until something really big changes, (true) ATMOS will remain a thing for the 1%. The ones who have the money, the time, the space .. and the will to put up with the extra effort.

The vast majority will happily continue with their 'oldschool' stereo setup: phone+headphones
But then, if someone was to release a free 'plugin' that makes earbuds truly sound like ATMOS...
 

spartaman64

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You can get Spacial Audio/Atmos via most headphones and IEM’s already. Is it the same? Not really but it gives you a taste of what it can sound like with actual speakers . You don’t need Genelects for surround/height channels. Go slow and dip your toes in with building up your base level speakers first. 7.1 or 7.2. If you like that and want more. Then move into some height/ceiling speakers. They can be just your average surround speaker at first.
yep ive listened to the amazon hd atmos with headphones and iems im not sure what the differences between implementations are but I think it might sound worse to me than even mp3 lol
 
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