“It’s like going from black and white to color.”
“Can I move into your studio?”
“How am I supposed to listen to regular music now?”
These are just some of the comments that artists and musicians make when they come in to listen to music in Dolby Atmos in our new Atmos mix room at The Record House. Clearly the experience is a special one.
Even though Dolby Atmos has been around for 8 years, I found out that there were still people who didn’t really know what it was. They probably heard movies in Atmos in the theatres but they weren’t necessarily aware of it.
Bringing this technology and medium to music opens up a whole new world of possibilities, both in terms of creation and experience.
From a very young age I loved putting on my headphones and disappearing into the music. Very often I would listen with my eyes closed. Getting rid of the visual senses allowed for a deeper immersion and I would get lost in the record. Now with Dolby Atmos, music engulfs and washes over you like never before. The immersion is no longer something you have to imagine. It’s physically happening in the room.
That’s probably why everyone who hears music in Atmos for the first time is overcome by child-like excitement. It could be an A&R, manager, artist or a civilian, they all get these big eyes and smiles, there is a lot of laughter and ‘Whoa!’s .
I decided to do Atmos remixes for a number of the artists I produced for the launch of AvidPlay’s Dolby Atmos support. During the playback sessions I was sitting back on the couch and they were sitting at the console. I got the same exact reaction from two artists on the same day. Just as the first chorus hit, they turned around with amazement pointing to the goosebumps on their forearm!
The introduction of Dolby Atmos support on AvidPlay is incredible because it allows for everyone to create and share music in this format. The platform is intuitive and easy to use. You can do your release in a matter of minutes.
The catalog work that Dolby started with Universal and Warner is great and as I mentioned before the joy of hearing your favorite records in Atmos cannot be understated. However, I believe that creation of brand new content is crucial in the widespread adoption of this format. As more artists create new music in Atmos their audience will be more inclined to get an Atmos-enabled speaker or pay a higher premium for their music service.
Doing these remixes for my artists I also noticed a few interesting things about mixing and production in general.
First of all, the fact that we got our dynamics back is amazing! I was happy with the stereo mixes I did for these tracks but comparing them with the Atmos Binuaral version on headphones, I like the Atmos versions more! There is no question if it folds down well or not. It does an amazing job and since we are not squashing the mix, the choruses pop more and it has more impact. Plus you have an LFE channel, fun!
The second realization was kind of counter-intuitive. Much like everyone else who had a chance to listen to Elton John’s Rocket Man in Atmos, I was blown away. Once the chorus hits and the guitars open up next to you, the background vocals surround you and the electric guitars fly overhead; you shoot off into space! Still, that song is pretty simplistic in terms of instrumentation. There isn’t a whole lot going on but with great and tasteful mixing, it creates one of the quintessential Atmos music experiences. When I started mixing my artists I was thinking, “oh I have way more stuff to play around with and spread in this 3D space, it’s going to be great”. And it was. But I realized while spreading a dense production with a bunch of layers of synths, keys, guitars, percussion, and vocals creates an impressive “Sphere of Sound”, there is something special to having fewer elements and being able to identify every small moment that happens in a song. It’s not because things get lost or buried in the mix, you have a 360 plane to place sounds in, but the human mind can only focus on so many things at once. So perhaps it’s better to have a few cool elements doing a few cool things than a whole bunch of elements doing a whole bunch of cool things. Just food for thought.
If you’re an artist or producer and haven’t heard music in Dolby Atmos, find a studio that has this capability and go listen to some music. You’ll be hooked! And then starting creating some music in Atmos. Have fun with it and share it with the world, easily via AvidPlay.
Jessica Mar – New Truth
Beto Vargas – Mistakes
Camie Llano – Visitor
Buel – Advice
Juan Cortes – So I Erased His Face