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Loudness wars are over - with lossy Dolby Atmos

Music1969

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Ok my interest started in the recent 'Tears for Fears' thread.


Not so much the discussion there interested but the link to the website that compared DR for vinyl vs Qobuz vs Atmos.

So I started doing some testing of my own.

Apple Music offers lossy Atmos - it isn't TrueHD Atmos.

I picked 3 very mainstream and very recent albums by:

The Weeknd - Dawn
Dua Lipa - Future Nostalgia
Rufu du sol - Surrender


I tested their lead singles. Being very mainstream, the labels would want their singles to stand out on playlists, radio etc, where possible.

Note I checked lossless with SOUND CHECK on vs off - to see if volume normalisation in Apple Music helped DR score. It didn't help DR sore but avoids clipping (good thing).

There is no clipping with streaming Atmos, by design.

In all cases, the (lossy) Atmos version has significantly better DR than the lossless 24bit digital master.

It is not a small difference in DR value. For all these singles from popular albums.

Note that lossy Atmos is now streaming on Apple Music and Amazon Music HD (2 of the 3 biggest companies in the game) plus TIDAL.

So it is safe to say Atmos is now available mainstream.

And you don't need Atmos gear to listen to Apple Music Atmos content. I use normal USB DAC.

But streaming the Atmos versions you can get significantly better DR but have to decide if you accept 'lossy' Atmos.

So it depends how much you favour DR over less DR but lossless.

This is a game changer in my opinion.

The labels and people behind the Atmos mixes are deliberately making the Atmos version significantly better in terms of dynamic range.

I reckon this is the end of loudness wars. Remember those are very very mainstream recent examples.

See Apple's recent comment about Atmos uptake:


If you don't know those artists, ask your kids or grandkids :D

MAAT DROffline MkII -2.2.3

1646903699068.png
 
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freemansteve

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Normally, tracks intended as singles are intentionally highly compressed, so it must be a question of which target market each format is aimed at.
 

ZolaIII

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Loudness wars are over but not thanks to Dolby labs nor other property bulshit but open standards such as EBU R128 equal loudness normalization.
 
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Music1969

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Loudness wars are over but not thanks to Dolby labs nor other property bulshit but open standards such as EBU R128 equal loudness normalization.
See my comment about equal loud normalization for these same tracks. In opening post.

Already tested with loudness norm on vs off (as per OP). Those tracks still have shit DR.

Only the Atmos version has this much higher DR.

Your comment is about how loudness war should be over with equal loudness norm, but isn't the reality.

The measured DR i shared above, is the actual current reality.
 
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Frgirard

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See my comment about equal loud normalization for these same tracks. In opening post.

Already tested with loudness norm on vs off (as per OP). Those tracks still have shit DR.

Only the Atmos version has this much higher DR.

Your comment is about how loudness war should be over with equal loudness norm, but isn't the reality.

The measured DR i shared above, is the actual current reality.
The end of the loudness war In the mainstream market is a myth.
DR is not all. The equalization is the other major parameter.
The loudnesswar is the loud sound. Since the time, it's funny than the audiophile band has not understood what is the LW.
 

charleski

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I wouldn't celebrate just yet. For most mastering engineers Atmos is still a relatively new delivery format which means they end up sticking to the guidelines. But as your numbers for the Weeknd release show, Dave Kutch is already working on breaking the equal loudness rules. All the Weeknd tracks have the same LUFSi, and so will pass a simple loudness scan, but he's working on compensating for this by changing the way he limits the audio. This is most obvious for Sacrifice, which has a true peak down at -8dB (!) leading to a miserable crest factor. We'd need to actually look at the audio waveforms to work out precisely how he's mangling the audio for the other two though.

iTunes tried to discourage hard-limiting by refusing to certify audio that clipped at 0dB. Mastering engineers just evaded that by limiting at -0.3dB instead, leading to the same crappy flat-topped clipping distortion, only at a very slightly lower level. I have no doubt that if Atmos becomes a reasonably popular delivery format then engineers will work on ways to break its rules in the same manner.
 

Newman

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You’ll be giving the vinyl deluded a heart attack with an 8 point increase in, ahem, “DR”. That will eat up their belief system about digital releases being dynamically crushed.

But, as I keep telling others in DR-tool-based discussions, that tool is essentially broken because its measurement swings drastically if things other than dynamics are altered in the mixing and mastering. Whatever changed to make those differences in “DR” reading, dynamics is only one of the possibilities. So….

Nothing proven, nothing demonstrated, no conclusions possible.
 

ZolaIII

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@Music1969 dynamic range of what? Equal loudness normalization on recorded material will increase dynamic range and equal loudness to the reasonable extent not over blowing it nor pumping noise in. It can't do miracles for already ruined materials, won't manipulate either sound stage nor relative positioning of it nor recreate imaginary one. You need to learn what positional audio is about and how it works and it won't either resolve or help with anything.
 
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Music1969

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It can't do miracles for already ruined materials
Yes obviously. In these cases though that I shared, the end user just needs to turn on Atmos for the Atmos version and get an instant boost in DR.

It's a different mastering - the version is already there on the streaming service (Apple, Amazon, Tidal).

@Music1969 dynamic range of what?

Of the tracks in the opening post?
 

ZolaIII

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Dolby Atmos is hamster alike attached position meta data to regular material. Works like trying to put you in that position and rebuild sound stage to that point from original source. Sorry I don't need nor want insane DRA, I need it levelled (with good DRA).
 

charleski

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But, as I keep telling others in DR-tool-based discussions, that tool is essentially broken
The TTmeter DR score is certainly very simplistic, being nothing more than a simple crest-factor that compares peak value with (IIRC) the 80% level on the RMS histogram. Many have proposed using the EBU Loudness Range index instead. But neither of these addresses the real problem here, which is clipping caused by inept hard-limiting:
clipping.jpg
Clipping like this causes distortion that is very easily audible (note how the audio is clipped at around -0.5dB to fool iTunes, but you still get the distortion). Unfortunately we still don't have a real standard to measure this and the only reliable way to spot it is to inspect the waveform.
 
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Music1969

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Dolby Atmos is hamster alike attached position meta data to regular material. Works like trying to put you in that position and rebuild sound stage to that point from original source.
I mentioned in opening post, I'm using stereo USB DAC...

So Atmos on vs off is still stereo - except higher DR with Atmos ON.

Tradeoff is 'lossy' Atmos.
 

ZolaIII

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There is no magic, you can't get actual great DR range from materials let's say DR under 9 but let's say 13~14 is perfectly enough. I explained what Dolby Atmos is (as simple and good I could and of course position is in stereo to start with).
 

abdo123

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The ‘Atmos’ you get via a USB DAC on Apple music is nothing but a binaural downmix of the whole thing which sounds really bad on stereo speakers.

But i generally agree with the premise of this thread.

It’s important to keep in mind though that while every object (it’s no longer channels with Atmos) might have individually high dynamic range, when they play together in a true multi-speaker setup much of that dynamic range will be ‘lost’.
 
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Music1969

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The ‘Atmos’ you get via a USB DAC on Apple music is nothing but a binaural downmix of the whole thing which sounds really bad on stereo speakers.
Noted

I'm listening on headphones but too soon to comment of sound quality.

Yes it is binaural downmix but with higher DR than non-Atmos version (on headphones anyway). But also 'lossy'.

Some tradeoffs. It's not all roses with the higher DR.
 

Soniclife

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It's like the launch of CD all over again. If it get's popular I'm sure they will find new and even more egregious ways of crushing music.
 

abdo123

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It's like the launch of CD all over again. If it get's popular I'm sure they will find new and even more egregious ways of crushing music.
If they want to continue hearing by the time they exit the studio it’s best not to have ~16 speakers at full blast all the time.
 

Soniclife

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If they want to continue hearing by the time they exit the studio it’s best not to have ~16 speakers at full blast all the time.
You think the people mixing for CD are not hearing impaired already? It would explain some of it.
 
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