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

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AdamG247

AdamG247

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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...
Just FYI.


 
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AdamG247

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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
Then you’re not a fan and that’s cool too. Not trying to force this on anyone. Choices are the value here. All these new ways to enjoy your music can be fun for some.
 

JoachimStrobel

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After spending days mounting 4 heights and two rears for a 7.1.4 system I opened an Tidal account and started streaming Jazz in Atmos. Most tracks were old and they sounded as Mr Tidal’s son added channels with an old Dolby analog circuitry. Then I tried Apple Music and found newer Jazz where someone got their hands on the original multitrack tapes - and those sounded great.
 

lashto

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Just FYI.


Apple's "spatial atmos" seems a lot more like those atmos-enabled things. We'll have to wait and see, may actually be worth hearing.
Right now, the only thing that can produce ATMOS quality with headphones is the Smith Realizer. Both hugely expensive and seriously cumbersome. Long way between that and "ATMOS for everyone".

Plus even more issues of cost. ~Anyone could produce reasonably good stereo music noawadays with just a laptop (and maybe $1000 extra equipment). Only very few can afford $50000+ for an ATMOS studio. That alone would make ATMOS music much more expensive for quite a while. And the format is non-free, also makes things expensive. And not exactly desirable.

More generally, the article sounds like 'predictions' from ATMOS' marketing dept. The "definitely going to" title is such a giant stretch that only a true fanboy will go there. And if I am not mistaken, the author is a very much paid for 'fanboy'.

Not saying it's impossible to happen. It may. Like many other things may or may not. The only thing I fully disagree with is "definitely".
 

Tim Link

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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
I'm hesitantly agreeing that Dolby Atmos doesn't down-mix back to 2 channel audio well. But I'm not sure if that's because I'm not using a Dolby Atmos enabled device that can do the down-mixing correctly, or if it really just doesn't down-mix well. In Apple Music it does seem to sound better if Atmos is turned off when listening with 2 speakers.
 

Blumlein 88

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You know why Atmos will not supplant stereo? Because stereo has been stereo for 75 years and will be for another 750. Atmos will be altered (improved, enhanced, changed) by Dolby every few years to keep everyone on the upgrade treadmill to keep Dolby's income stream going. Combine that with the extra cost, space, and complexity...... well..... it has no chance.

Maybe if some processes allows a tetret of 4 speakers and a sub that never changed, and only DSP upgrades happen in pure software it might in time happen. As long as the pox that is Dolby keeps adding speakers and keeps upgrades tied to hardware boxes with ever changing connectivity volatility via HDMI it's not happening.
 

anotherhobby

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It's pretty hilarious that the article claims to state why Dolby Atmos Music is “definitely going to supersede stereo” but then does so strictly talking about it from the engineering and tech perspective, and not one bit at all at what it actually takes for market adoption. In other words, what it would actually take in any market for something to supersede something else? Superseding is not having a new format that everybody listens to down mixed to the previous format.

To be fair, the headline does tell you it's an engineer explaining it, so yes, speaking as an engineer, that's basically how engineers look at the world. What we do know is that marketing people will run with it forever, and I agree with all the points made in this thread about why it will not supersede stereo. It will remain niche and a popular marketing ploy for cars, sound bars, smart speakers, and headphones. The lucky few will have the ability to invest in a full system, and it'll be damn impressive I'm sure.

That is not to say it's not very cool. That's not to say it's not impressive. That's not to say it doesn't sound better. Not saying anything about the tech, only saying that very few actual humans will install the multitude of speakers it takes to do all this in a domestic setting. Too much money, to complicated, and too intrusive for most households.
 
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Newman

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It will remain niche and a popular marketing ploy for cars, sound bars, smart speakers, and headphones.
You got that back to front, calling those consumers niche. You listed the mainstream. If those consumers adopt Atmos over stereo, then Atmos has replaced stereo.

If the only people mainly sticking to stereo are the one-speaker-box-for-every-channel crowd, ie we traditional audiophiles, then that is only a very small niche holdout. Atmos will have won.
 
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Sal1950

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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
"supersede stereo" A nice piece of clickbait where-ever it gets posted, how much truth there is we'll all learn it about 10 years.

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.
Now that's an extreme exaggeration in both cost and trouble

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.
There's a good bit of truth in that. I'd say the vast majority of members here are also just 1% of the music listening world. Outside of a possible few audiophile friends made because this is both of your passions, how many people do you know that have even a half-assed decent HiFi with the speakers and listening chair setup to provide a even passable stereo image? We here are all part of that very small passionate group
Personally I believe Atmos, due to it's down sampling ability has a greater chance of becoming the default distribution codec than MQA ever did. Yes I'm sure there are many in our 1% that will never accept it, just as we have many spending tens of thousand of dollars on vinyl gear to get second rate audio quality. I do believe that of the really passionate 1% audiophiles, maybe 50% will, in the next 5-10 years, expand into the multich world.

Let me just present a couple detail facts.
I don't know why anyone would think they can build a Atmos or even just a 5.1 rig with second rate gear and then compare it's sound quality to their 2ch rig built with near SOTA gear? Yes, you'll need at least 3 more speakers of equal quality to your front L & R, and at least 4 specially designed very high quality speakers for the over-heads.
The current huge outrush of new Atmos recordings are just like all other recordings since Edison Cylinders, some are demo quality, a lot just average, and the rest not quite world killers.
Before you can determine if a Atmos investment if worth it to you, you must listen to at least 1 multich system of equal or better quality in all areas than your current stereo. How can you ever hope to get a worthy demo on a $2-5k multich rig when you listen to a $10k stereo system at home?

I spent more than I ever believed I would on my rig over the last 10 years but it's been worth every damn penny.
The improvements made in digital multich recording and playback technology has increased tenfold over what was offered in the past.
Just My Humble Opinion, YMMV ;)
 

lashto

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Now that's an extreme exaggeration in both cost and trouble
depends how you look at it. Could be anywhere between extreme exaggeration and huge understatement

10x cost increase
Lets say that it's 2 speakers (Stereo) vs 5.1.4 ('smallest' Atmos). Many of those 10 Atmos can be smaller/cheaper so it may be just ~2x costs. Even less if you already have 5.1.
OTOH, the premise here is ATMOS taking over the world. That could be seen as $50 earbuds vs. 5.1.4 speakers. Way over 10x in costs increase.

100x more trouble
That is of course just a totally random number :). But what would be your trouble-number for "$50 earbuds vs. 5.1.4 speakers" ?! If one does not have the space for 5.1.4, it's just infiniteX more trouble. ~Same for WAF issues.

Looking at my case, I have ~all the prerequisites for 5.1.4 and I ~like the idea too. Still won't do it because "cables on the ceiling". In-ceiling/wall speakers and cables would be too much trouble, not even sure if possible. Also considered up-firing ATMOS-enabled boxes but 'everyone' says that they are not worth the trouble.
You can say that I am just "one small step away" or you can say that I have "inifiniteX trouble" (i.e. no solution and I gave up thinking)
 
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Spkrdctr

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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?
Yes. You don't even have to go with 9 channels. A good 7.1 will do a good job. The thing about Atmos is that it allows you to go as wild with the number of speakers as you want. 11 channels? You can do it. But, it is not necessary. The height channels are a big plus for movies, but for music? I would not worry about them. Also, once you get the AVR you want you do not have to upgrade for quite a few years. The industry is heading to , in my mind, over saturating the average buyer by proclaiming you need 11 or 32 channels. That is just marketing BS. Most people have trouble fitting a 5.1.2 into their house. I think this is holding ATMOS back in that it seems hard to implement. Heck, I have an ATMOS soundbar that is amazing. It really sounds good on music and movies.
 

Spkrdctr

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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.
Adam is very wise! You DO NOT have to have the same speakers all around in a surround system. That was marketing BS to get people to buy more speakers. Very good LCR speakers with cheaper surrounds will do a good job. A lot of audio is myth and over thinking it. I have heard systems that were dirt cheap. They sounded pretty good for what they were.
 

Spkrdctr

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The current huge outrush of new Atmos recordings are just like all other recordings since Edison Cylinders, some are demo quality, a lot just average, and the rest not quite world killers.
Before you can determine if a Atmos investment if worth it to you, you must listen to at least 1 multich system of equal or better quality in all areas than your current stereo. How can you ever hope to get a worthy demo on a $2-5k multich rig when you listen to a $10k stereo system at home?
Just My Humble Opinion, YMMV ;)
Wow Sal. You listen to the demo quality Edison cylinders too? I thought I was the only one. I hope we are not showing our age.........:)
 

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Hmmm. Anyone else here old enough to remember the failed Quadraphonic systems?
Yes, I remember Quadraphonic in the early 70's (1970's, not 1870's). I remember MIT undergrads (Hi!, Craig) using some passive network that did some magic (common signal phase shifted to the rear speakers, maybe) to simulate 4-channel sound. This was in between hacking phone systems, tragically failing with women, and agonizing over EE problem sets.

IHTFP
 

BostonJack

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Neither one is right for 21st century. We need something new. Or even to perfect something that pre-dated stereo, that's binaural, at least for headphone listening.
One big advantage of mono is your speaker budget just effectively doubled. In the 1950's audiophile systems were mono. Plus, arguments about 'soundstage' are cut short. ;)
 
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Only in Dolby's mind it'll happen.I've been to this rodeo before.As I sit here with a massive preservation surround collection on a few giant hdd's.Everything from cd4 rips to ovation rips,Q8 only if it's great unique mix cause the fidelity sux,along with the usual SACD/DVD-A stuff.At least I was able to make a killing selling off my surround media.Enjoying the sublime 5.1 DTS 96/24 mix of Be Bop Deluxe Axe Victim as I type this.Jets At Dawn indeed
 

Godataloss

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Considering how poorly audio standards are handled via HDMI today, I long to go back to when you could reliably get a decent 5.1 mix. Zero desire for Atmos.
 
D

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Considering how poorly audio standards are handled via HDMI today, I long to go back to when you could reliably get a decent 5.1 mix. Zero desire for Atmos.
Audiomuxer for Windows is your friend, it's free,easy to use and simple to reformat quad 4.0 to 5.1which is a must for HDMI almost always
 

A Surfer

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I have no interest in putting a PC back into my home theater. I also have zero interest in simulated surround formats.
So what do you do with your home theatre? Just curious as that is a black box I have never opened but sometimes wonder about.
 
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