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Spatial Audio -- warning from a producer/engineer

Ata

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It seems the quality of Spatial Audio (and multi-channel Dolby Atmos music obtained via various streaming services) might be questionable, at least for some time, while the technology is bootstrapping itself...

Reference -- a producer/engineer shared the following:

“I just want to try and alert you to the potential seismic scam happening with this Atmos roll out. Atmos catalog remixing is being done by the truckload in a handful of Nashville, LA, and NYC rooms right now and has been for a couple of years, and almost none of it is being overseen or approved by the artist or original producer or mixer. And these versions- according to Apple- will be the new standard versions, superseding the original versions, now designated by Apple to the dustbin of history.

I have heard some Atmos mixes which were indeed an improvement. However, most are not. And I would like to steer you toward this demo from Apple to get a sense of their mindset

https://music.apple.com/us/playlist/introducing-spatial-audio/pl.af1ad34ef38543dd8bcdfc11356bd00e

In the rush to make content for Apple, labels are jamming this crap out with little QC and -again- almost no input from artists. This format has real potential but if they continue to try and tell us that shit like this ‘new’ version of ‘What’s Going On’ is better than then original, then it will be seen as a counterfeit and a fraud, and will go the way of the Home Pod. I know how you feel about catalog being remixed and this has potential to be a worst case scenario.”

And then my inbox filled up with more, and iMessage started to ring from other professional engineers."

Full post:

https://lefsetz.com/wordpress/2021/06/11/spatial-audio/
 

abdo123

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Really?

I mean the Dolby Atmos tracks introduced were really low in number (Compared to Warner Bros putting their entire catalog in MQA in Tidal overnight).
 

eddantes

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"hi-fidelity" -> true to the artist's intent

I dunno... With all the filtering and EQing we're all doing, or our devices are doing for us... Mebbe that ship has sailed and there's no reason to get our briefs in a bother...

Still - I've always hoped to start at "artist's intent", before moving it to "my preference", at least then I know where I stand.
 

abdo123

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"hi-fidelity" -> true to the artist's intent

I dunno... With all the filtering and EQing we're all doing, or our devices are doing for us... Mebbe that ship has sailed and there's no reason to get our briefs in a bother...

Still - I've always hoped to start at "artist's intent", before moving it to "my preference", at least then I know where I stand.

I mean we always have access to the original work, in lossless quality, for no extra cost.

This is just desert.
 
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Ata

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I hate rotten apple more every day.

Sony (SACD), Tidal/Dolby (Atmos) and others have started the trend for multichannel audio well before Apple -- not sure why you single Apple out? In the crowded music production and distribution business everyone is looking for a differentiator, in this case it is Atmos, and such music has been available on DVDs, Blu-rays and now 4K discs again for many years. Spatial Audio itself is the "cream on the cake", i.e. the ability to have the imaging locked into position even when you move your head and use headphones.

What hurts is that the job is rushed, then again this is no surprise, have you seen the quality of the DVDs to hit the market in the first few years of availability? Not a pretty sight, but they perfected the tools and technology over time, to a point that a DVD with good upscaling is watchable on a 75+ inch screen from typical watching position.

My take is, the dust will settle, and the producers will have polished the tools and the methodology to produce Atmos versions that are on par with the two channel versions of the same music. Until then, I may turn off Atmos in my Apple Music settings. :D
 

RayDunzl

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Jim Matthews

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FUD is my interpretation of the motive here
I would agree, were it not for the unfortunate history of repackaging legacy products for additional sales.

Even money sez another copy of The Beatles "White Album" will be released.

It's like Disney reissuing 1980's and 1990's animated hits as live action.

Nobody wants to pay writers and performers, even with all the cash sloshing around.
 

jhaider

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Even money sez another copy of The Beatles "White Album" will be released.

I hope so!!!

They did a great job on the surround version, and If they do as fabulous a job on Atmos as they did on Abbey Road - without making people shell out a hundred bucks for a “box set” - then that’s exactly the kind of thing to get the dumbass Luddite club to shut their traps.
 
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Musty

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I hope so!!!

They did a great job on the surround version, and If they do as fabulous a job on Atmos as they did on Abbey Road - without making people shell out a hundred bucks for a “box set” - then that’s exactly the kind of thing to get the dumbass Luddite club to shut their traps.

The "White Album" should only be heard in mono.

Actually, a fair half of it should probably not be heard at all.
 

restorer-john

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That Marvin Gaye demo is just horrible. I don't know where to start. Sounds like yet another frequency based chopping up along with heavy attack filtering and a dull sound, almost like a Dolby processing on a non-dolby analog tape from years gone by. I mean, does anyone think that is an improvment??

And let's play the spatial demos a bit louder and tell the sheep all the wonderful things they are hearing. :facepalm:

All the more reason to stay away from anything other than the original recordings, preferably on CD as your own personal 'masters'.
 

jhaider

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That Marvin Gaye demo is just horrible.

Did you listen to it on an immersive home audio system (IMO the only way that matters) or in some synthesized version?

(I have not listened to that demo, as I have no need to be convinced of the potential of music mastered in immersive formats. So no comment from me one way or the other.)
 

richard12511

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That Marvin Gaye demo is just horrible. I don't know where to start. Sounds like yet another frequency based chopping up along with heavy attack filtering and a dull sound, almost like a Dolby processing on a non-dolby analog tape from years gone by. I mean, does anyone think that is an improvment??

And let's play the spatial demos a bit louder and tell the sheep all the wonderful things they are hearing. :facepalm:

All the more reason to stay away from anything other than the original recordings, preferably on CD as your own personal 'masters'.

Yeah, it sounded worse to me too. The musicians were maybe a bit more spread out, but the center image was noticeably worse(imo). Maybe it's a "my brain isn't used to it" yet thing, but I don't think so, as the stereo mix upmixed to Auro3D manages to improve on the plain stereo mix(without messing up the imaging). If an algorithm can do it (imo) better, then I have to think that the Atmos mixed was perhaps a bit rushed.
 

richard12511

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Did you listen to it on an immersive home audio system (IMO the only way that matters) or in some synthesized version?

(I have not listened to that demo, as I have no need to be convinced of the potential of music mastered in immersive formats. So no comment from me one way or the other.)

Try it and see what you think. I'm a huge believe in multi channel(why I upmix all of my 2 channel music to Auro3D), but that one sounded worse than the stereo mix to me.

Like I mentioned, it could just be my brain being used to the stereo mix(I listen to that album all the time). That was definitely the case for me and the 2L classical music 5.1 mixes.
 

restorer-john

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Did you listen to it on an immersive home audio system (IMO the only way that matters) or in some synthesized version?

(I have not listened to that demo, as I have no need to be convinced of the potential of music mastered in immersive formats. So no comment from me one way or the other.)

I listened to the various tracks here, on my 2i2 with AKG-702s. The content is delivered in two channels with all their "spatializing" embedded:

https://www.macrumors.com/2021/06/08/eddy-cue-spatial-audio-interview/

Now we know none of them (correct me if I'm wrong with some) were never mastered in immersive formats. I listened to a bunch of tracks I know and some I don't and it doesn't just sound wrong, it sounds like the myriad stereo/surround/effects synthesizer add-on boxes we used to sell back in the day. They were all impressive for the first 30 seconds, then you bypassed them. :)

And like you say, music mastered for "immersive" audio- absolutely it can and will likely be awesome.
 
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