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Apple Music announces Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos; will bring Lossless Audio to entire catalog - Page 5 - Gearspace.com
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Apple Music announces Spatial Audio with Dolby Atmos; will bring Lossless Audio to entire catalog
Old 21 hours ago | Show parent
  #121
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MatzeMillion's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I’m not familiar with the feature set of Dolby Atmos. From the convenience factor I totally agree. In a perfect world, it would be great to always have the perfect format for any playback system.

I was having a little hope this was the goal of this marketing exercise.

But as you can read in-between the lines (haha) I’m somewhere beyond disappointed. This is very subjective, but I didn’t find a single track where I thought, oh wow, this adds something to the experience.

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems not possible to have non 3D (unaltered) parts in the binaural render. That means to give up on this nice sensation of someone talking to me in my head when listening via headphones, which is the ultimate close-ness you can have to an artistic performance.
I’d rather prefer to have the option to use both stages at the same time. The in-head and the out of head.

What I find most disturbing is the degradation in fidelity. The transients are gone, there’s no clarity, no sensation of big space. It’s horrible. Why would someone want to sell this product? I don’t get it.




Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman ➡️
( boy…I’m sure posting a lot in this thread…but Space is the Place… )

I totally know what you mean. I’ve experimented a bit with binaural mixes myself.
But i think the problem is a marketing issue even more than a technical issue. It’s the eternal problem of “ convenience beats quality ” or a “ 1000 mp3 songs in your pocket instead of 10 Hi-Res songs in your pocket “
Here is an example of the latest Jean-Michel Jarre album mixed in Binaural version ( not Atmos) . It beats the crap out of most of what is in the Apple’s playlist, with a few exceptions.

https://youtu.be/8fpnPv3hDD0



You can manually fine-tune a Non-Dolby binaural version to perfection, but :
- you will have to release 2 albums for each release, the Stereo-Only, and the Binaural For Headphones.
- you have no way of making sure that despite adding “Binaural Audio- For Headphones Only “ in bold in the title of your album ( like the Jarre release ) , people are still going to play this version , maybe inadvertently, on Stereo Speakers and then complain it sounds like crap.

In contrast, the Dolby Atmos allows you to :

- release only 1 version that contains : the Stereo-Only version, the Dolby Atmos Multi-Speakers version, and the Binaural For Headphones version.
- in the case of an Apple Music release, the Automatic setting in iOS along with H1-equipped headphones will make sure you’re getting the Binaural version, otherwise it will send the Stereo version ( unless you switch it manually ) . This should take care of most “Why the music sounds so weird on my speakers ?? “ problem.

Basically Dolby Atmos Binaural brings Surround Sound to the masses. But not necessarily the best you can do in the Binaural surround format. Just like mp3 or AAC compression did for the dissemination of digital distribution.

Hopefully @ TheHanes will weigh on this, but i think once you setup the multi-speaker version in the Atmos plugin, the Renderer will also render a Binaural version automatically for you, but with limited manual fine-tuning for it ( ? ). It’s standardized.

With Non-Dolby binaural tools, you pretty much can do what you want and fine-tune exactly as you like, but you can’t make a surround version for multi-speakers as well, plus all the issues mentionned earlier.

Concerning the Dolby Atmos mixes and considering that maybe only 1% of your audience will own a Dolby setup of Speakers, i guess you could just completely optimize the mix for headphones Binaural , even if this means the Multi-speaker version will not be as good.

Maybe @ TheHanes could comment on this …
Old 21 hours ago | Show parent
  #122
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MatzeMillion's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHanes ➡️
so much to comment on, I've not been able to keep up.

Here is my thinking on this; I am aiming to make my binaural mix not weird. I am pretty much turning off binaural mode for L,C,R, and that is where most of my drums, bass, vocals are still going (actually not using C much at all).

I'm doing this because I don't like that extra space, flam, flange, verb, whatever thing that it does to the main body of the mix.

Now I was experimenting with it a bit more before settling this, so some of my earlier Atmos mixes may be outliers in this theory.

So my binaural mix will sound pretty close to the stereo mix. That might be disappointing because you're not getting the "wow this is amazing" factor, but I am a surgeon here and my oath says "first do no harm".

Now, when you get a chance to hear an Atmos mix in a multi-speaker room setup, or on an Amazon Echo studio (decent spatialization), or if head tracking comes to music files, I hope that you would be won over.
I’m only talking about the current implementation via Headphones which most consumers will use I guess.

I’m pretty sure it sounds very impressive in a multi speaker room.

The experiments with SPAT revolution I made were mixing conventional stereo with binaural or transaural parts. This seems similar to what you discribe. I’m absolutely sold to this approach and I wish there would be an appropriate file format carrying the spatial information in a more non destructive way.
Old 21 hours ago | Show parent
  #123
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TheHanes's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatzeMillion ➡️
I’m only talking about the current implementation via Headphones which most consumers will use I guess.

I’m pretty sure it sounds very impressive in a multi speaker room.

The experiments with SPAT revolution I made were mixing conventional stereo with binaural or transaural parts. This seems similar to what you discribe. I’m absolutely sold to this approach and I wish there would be an appropriate file format carrying the spatial information in a more non destructive way.
Yes, the binaural problem is something that we mixing engineers have all been struggling with. We will each have our own approach.

I actually find it kind of amazing that the binaural downmix gets a lot right! I mean it is taking 30+ channels of sound at different volumes, pans, height, etc. and bringing it down to a 2-channel mix that sounds pretty close to the original stereo mix to me is pretty cool.

Now at some point I may experiment with a "binaural first" approach, maybe something more avant-garde and off-the wall. But right now we're just trying to get it out there.

Let me add that if you think the binaural implementation of Dolby Atmos is a bit odd, check out Sony 360RA.

Last edited by TheHanes; 20 hours ago at 09:50 PM.. Reason: more info
Old 19 hours ago | Show parent
  #124
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santibanks's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman ➡️
There is a last case which remains a bit mysterious : what about an AppleTV or a Mac using an interface/amp capable of handling a multiple speaker set for Atmos ? I don't know ( and this is what Thehanes was refering to I think ). Not even sure there is a regular Atmos for multiple speakers version in Apple Music right now.

Apple does have Dolby Atmos for multiple speakers on its iTunes FILM section ( as well as Dolby 5.1 and 7.1 surround versions ), but Atmos version for multiple speakers in AppleMusic ? I could be wrong but I don't think they have that right now.
As far as I understand, Apple deals with Atmos in the following ways:
  • Some of the newest Mac's are capable of using the onboard speakers to play Atmos as spatial audio. The M1 macbook air is an example of that (and I tried it, meh… One interesting thing though is that it actually works in Safari, as Dolby has these tools to make it work in the browser)
  • Atmos can be sent over HDMI to your Atmos receiver. So this is what Apple TV etc. will do. If you have a surround setup, it will be "discrete" surround. As far as I know, if you have a multi-channel interface on your mac, it will actually not be usable for surround in the iTunes Film section;
  • It does a binaural thing which works only on headphones and is the thing this topic is about.

Playing multi-channel wav in iTunes will also not work. It will in Quicktime though, that does support full surround (i'm sticking with VLC here).

In my opinion, binaural doesn't cut it for me personally. I've heard it in many iterations over the years as I love surround and it doesn't even come close to having a discrete setup. Quite the contrary. As a lot of people here commented it actually sounds hollow, phasy, "wide", but mostly not as a real improvement. And the same thing is true with the "atmos bar" speakers or those macbook air speakers which do the atmos thing. There is a spatial dimension there for sure which is also more obvious than in binaural, but it is sensitive to the position of your ears and never heard anything which sounded remotely like the discrete playback over 5 speakers.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules ➡️
How are lossless sample rates managed on Desktop / laptop Apple devices? Do you have to mess around with the Audio Midi for every sample rate change? (I need to investigate)
Your sample rate is what it is and Apple converts on the fly for you. So let's say I have my card running at 48/24 and now play a 96/24 file in iTunes, Quicktime, VLC; it will just be converted to 48/24 on the fly and you will hear it with no issue whatsoever.

If you are running dedicated pro-audio apps like Logic, Pro Tools, etc, then it's a different story and the sample rates do matter.
Old 17 hours ago | Show parent
  #125
Quote:
Originally Posted by santibanks ➡️
Your sample rate is what it is and Apple converts on the fly for you. So let's say I have my card running at 48/24 and now play a 96/24 file in iTunes, Quicktime, VLC; it will just be converted to 48/24 on the fly and you will hear it with no issue whatsoever.
.
So Apple have yet to organised their streaming service to automatically play back on desktop each track at it's own sample rate? (Bit Perfect)

Seem half baked to me. Lets see what Apple tells us about lossless playback at WWDC21
Old 17 hours ago | Show parent
  #126
Here for the gear
 
Hi all,
I am hesitantly weighing in on this thread... My business partner and I built an Atmos Music enabled studio in Nashville last year.

Just like everyone else, I was eagerly awaiting the Apple Music announcement. And just like most here, I was really troubled when I heard the binaural renders. It isn't what I am used to hearing, that's for sure. I've spoken to other Atmos mixers, and they are aware of this too. I believe it will get sorted out after a little while.

I would encourage everyone not to write off the format based upon this experience.
So many people have worked really hard to utilize this technology, and build up a catalog. It is still very new (for music). The speed at which manufacturers are bringing enabled products to market is impressive, and it's causing those working in the format to constantly be up-to-date on changes and potential problems, and figure out how to make it translate.
No engineer is intentionally letting stuff go out that sounds whack. There is a technology disconnect somewhere, and it will get worked out.

I am generally not a big fan of listening to binaural audio, But... updates keep happening, and things really do get better. When HRTF (Head-related transfer functions) become a cheap and easy thing, I imagine it will be pretty amazing. I have heard binaural sound good. My business partner has mixed songs in Atmos, and carefully adjusted settings in the Dolby renderer, and it feels surprisingly (definitely not exactly) similar going from speakers to headphones.

I am glad the discreet streams for speaker playback seem correct.
If you have not heard an Atmos mix on speakers, I really encourage you to do so.
I was extremely skeptical at first, but at this point, I believe I will always have a surround setup in some capacity - And this is coming from me, a Mastering engineer whose whole career has been in stereo, and wants to cut lacquer, and listens to mono 78rpm records.

This is a new, or perhaps I should I say, additional audio format, but not a replacement for everything else.
We see the most excited reactions from pop producers. Their eyes get wide and light up when they realize the additional artistic decisions they can make. It's another tool which can be utilized to make art, and when played back correctly, can feel "immersive" and very moving.


I need to give a shout out to @ TheHanes :
You were very helpful to us when you did your Q&A in 2020. I am so happy to see you continuing to offer advice and answer questions. You are an amazing asset to everyone here, and I am always so excited when your new Atmos mixes are released. They are always the best.
Additionally, they fold down to stereo better than any others I've heard.


-Mike
Axis Audio
Nashville, TN
Old 14 hours ago | Show parent
  #127
Gear Maniac
Thanks Mike. Totally spot-on that it’s early days. I expect the kinks will be worked out. The question is how many people will write it off before that.
Old 14 hours ago
  #128
Here for the gear
 
Head tracking is coming to Spatial Audio on Apple Music this fall. If they're sending a Binaural mix with Spatial Audio and head tracking enabled wouldn't this sound less than ideal? Or is the expectation that the full Atmos mix would be played into the head tracking aware HRTF algorithms? If that's the case it seems really odd that Apple didn't wait to launch this in a few months when presumably things would sound a lot better. For that reason I was not expecting head tracking to add much to these Atmos mixes, but I'm looking forward to hopefully being proven wrong here.

For what it's worth, I think the Apple movies Atmos / Spatial Audio head tracking implementation works very well, so maybe this software upgrade in the fall will be more significant than I initially thought based on this first-run experience.
Old 12 hours ago | Show parent
  #129
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doom64's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman ➡️
Actually , this is why I think Binaural Dolby Atmos for headphones is going to be huge, especially for movies . I don't know a single person either that has any kind of surround ( 5.1 / 7.1 /or Atmos ) setup for their HD TV.

It's not just out of interest for sound quality in general ( there is that too of course ), but at least in Europe and Asia, most people in cities live in small appartments , not houses, where it's not just practical to have precious space eaten by such a setup. In Paris where I live , you could buy an entire 3 floor house with a garden in many places for the price of a tiny 40 Sq/M appartment here.

I'm already shocked when I find someone with a correctly set Stereo setup ( you would be amazed how few people don't know that you have to be sitting in the middle between speakers to get real stereo ), but properly setting 4, 5 or more speakers around your living room, is just out of question for most people, especially families with kids.

Add to that the complaining neighbors if you're watching Star Wars at night on your 7.1 setup ...

A few years ago i bought this , and it completely changed the way I watch movies : the Sony WH-L600


There are surprisingly few devices like this on the market. In fact I only know of 2 , this $300 Sony and the $4000 Smyth Realizer

Basically what it does, is the support base has software that takes HDMI or Optical input from your DVD/Blu-Ray or AppleTV ( or similar ) device, and if your DVD/Blu-Ray/iTunes/etc film is encoded in Dolby 5.1 or 7.1( but not Atmos) for a Surround speaker set, it will create on-the-fly a Binaural version and stream it to its wireless headphone ( which uses radiowave, not Bluetooth ).

And it works brilliantly and very convincigly most of the time. Maybe not as convincingly as a real well set-up film theater, but I heard far worse in some average theaters.

Once you get used to hearing spaceships flying all around you in the room at full volume while watching a Blu-Ray in the middle of the night without triggering a riot from your neighbors, it's hard to go back to regular stereo from your speakers, or worse, from your TV.

Apple devices are now capable of streaming Binaural versions of Dolby Atmos encoded films to their own headphones only ( not to be confused with how AppleMusic Atmos is streamed to any kind of headphone ), but you can bet once this will become popular due to their marketing power, you will see other systems like the Sony and the sMYTH coming up from every manufacturer for watching Dolby Atmos films/shows, especially multi-heaphones setups from only one transmitter to each member of the family.
Beats having to setup 7 speakers around your living room and only using it during the day.
Thanks so much for this information. I will definitely look into those Sonys.
Old 10 hours ago
  #130
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
damn tech companies hijacked the industry, degraded quality, tell consumers they don't need CD, mp3 is great enough, years later reintroduced the old CD quality as "evolution".
dam!! lol
Old 10 hours ago | Show parent
  #131
Gear Maniac
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by UnMix Studio ➡️
damn tech companies hijacked the industry, degraded quality, tell consumers they don't need CD, mp3 is great enough, years later reintroduced the old CD quality as "evolution".
dam!! lol
The game changer according to Apple's Eddy Cue is Spatial Audio, not their new Lossless streaming.

And Atmos Music is the 'lossy' Dolby Digital Plus codec.

https://www.macrumors.com/2021/06/08...dio-interview/
Old 9 hours ago | Show parent
  #132
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Jantex's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MatzeMillion ➡️
Spent a few hours listening through the Dolby Atmos features playlist. With the iPhone its possible to switch between 3D audio and stereo (lossless) pretty easy.

I must say, 99% is such a crap, I’m totally shocked that somebody even approved that! The definition and fidelity is totally gone and everything is masked with this super cheap sounding room. The spatialization is a joke compared to other 3D audio solutions I recently tried.

But the worst is the use of the 3D space in most of the mixes, it’s sounds more like automated up-mixes than creative decisions.
And in many tracks there is a weird pumping, like from a very bad noise reduction circuit.

Sub bass definition is non existent.

Hopefully this will change as soon as the tools are available to a wider producer-base.

I experimented a lot with an immersive mixing solution recently and had convincing results with binaural and transaural submixes within a stereo mix. Asking myself if it would have been better to just release a stereo and a headphone enhanced version instead of this fake Dolby Atmos BS crammed into stereo files.

Just my 2ct… sorry.
Absolutely agree, listening in AirPods Pro there has not been a single case where I preferred atmos version to the regular stereo. So despite Apple marketing this for their headphones, it sounds really really bad and not convincing at all.
Old 9 hours ago | Show parent
  #133
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santibanks's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Jules ➡️
So Apple have yet to organised their streaming service to automatically play back on desktop each track at it's own sample rate? (Bit Perfect)

Seem half baked to me. Lets see what Apple tells us about lossless playback at WWDC21
Well, how Apple handles sample rates in OS X (basically up and downsampling) is nothing new. It is like this as far as I can remember and that goes back at least 15 years.
Old 5 hours ago | Show parent
  #134
But it's not cool!
Old 2 hours ago
  #135
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jimmyboy7's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Funny to read this after reading an Atmos thread.
Old 44 minutes ago | Show parent
  #136
Here for the gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by moirearty ➡️
Head tracking is coming to Spatial Audio on Apple Music this fall. If they're sending a Binaural mix with Spatial Audio and head tracking enabled wouldn't this sound less than ideal? Or is the expectation that the full Atmos mix would be played into the head tracking aware HRTF algorithms? If that's the case it seems really odd that Apple didn't wait to launch this in a few months when presumably things would sound a lot better. For that reason I was not expecting head tracking to add much to these Atmos mixes, but I'm looking forward to hopefully being proven wrong here.

For what it's worth, I think the Apple movies Atmos / Spatial Audio head tracking implementation works very well, so maybe this software upgrade in the fall will be more significant than I initially thought based on this first-run experience.
I have mostly stopped assuming what Apple might do. Whatever they release will be the next thing we have to learn and work with - These are the technological cards with which we play.

I personally don't see the advantage to head tracking with studio recordings. I wouldn't want my center constantly changing. However, I can see this being a really cool thing with live recordings or live broadcasts.
The gaming world would really love this.

As an aside, there are some people doing live Atmos performances, and interactive art installations.

I think head tracking and Spatial Audio as part of a multimedia ecosystem makes sense as we see more AR and VR in our future.

Just like you, I think Atmos and Spatial Audio work really well with movies. It sounds really cool, and feels very engaging.
And to reiterate what was said earlier in this thread, when using headphones with Atmos or Spatial Audio, you are hearing a Binaural presentation. The goal is to have it feel the same as being surrounded by speakers. I hope it gets all the way there.
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