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Mixing Music In Dolby Atmos – Everything You Need To Know

In this article, we look at what it takes to make your studio suitable to mix in Dolby Atmos for music, whether you need certification, what hardware and software you will need, how to build or convert your studio to Dolby Atmos, as well as our exclusive 6 part tutorial series on setting up and using Pro Tools Ultimate and Dolby Atmos Production Suite to work together in this exclusive everything-you-need-to-know guide to mixing music in Dolby Atmos.

Most music is recorded and mixing for delivery in stereo. There have been a number of experiments in delivering music over the years in formats with higher channel counts like quad and 5.1 but none have taken off because of the need for the end-user to have special hardware.

Dolby Atmos was originally created for cinema sound. Following widespread theatrical adoption, this technology has filtered through into the Home Cinema environment for both film and TV content spanning drama, documentary, and live events. This is consumed over traditional TV broadcast, as well as online streaming platforms such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Apple TV+.

Dolby Atmos Music is a new ‘object-based’ immersive audio format for music production. This new format allows artists to push their creative boundaries. With Dolby Atmos Music, mixers have the ability to place and move sounds in a 3D environment with more precision, allowing for even more creative possibilities. Now, producers can create tracks that allow listeners to feel like they’re inside their favourite music.

With Dolby Atmos, you deliver one master file, called a Dolby Atmos Master File (DAMF). That is used to deliver the content to the end-user and then the end-user’s equipment plays a version of the content suitable for the equipment attached to it.

Interested In Dolby Atmos Home Entertainment?

If you are interested in mixing broadcast and OTT content then please check out the sister article Everything You Need To Know About Mixing In Dolby Atmos Home Entertainment. But if you are looking to mix your next music project in Dolby Atmos then you are in the right place. Read on…

What Is Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is an immersive experience that utilises up to 64 speaker channels. The speakers completely envelop the audience from behind the screen, on the walls and overhead. Dolby Atmos is designed to enhance the conventional 7.1 surround formats by adding an additional stereo overhead array and up to 118 “sound objects”. These objects can be moved through the theatre in all 3 dimensions. Dolby Atmos Cinema processors take into account the exact specification and dimensions of any playback auditorium so that the effect is the same in each theatre. Watch this video as Dolby explains it much better than we could in words.

As well as a 7.1.2 channel-based system, every speaker can be individually assigned. This is essential, for the second part of the Dolby Atmos system – the objects.  You can have up to 118 objects, that are separate sound elements that, any one of which, you can position around the theatre at will. So a Dolby Atmos mix consists of three primary elements:

  • Audio Beds: A ‘Bed’ is the ‘channel-based’ main output bus of 7.1.2 (LCR, LFE, Side & Rear Surrounds, and a pair of Overhead Surround Channels – these have no forward/ backward separation, just a stereo overhead). Think of this as your main mix bus.
  • Object Audio: An ‘Object’ has far more accurate panning, as it’s all governed by metadata rather than channel-based pan laws. This allows us to pan audio within a virtual 3D space, which will be rendered to be accurately represented in the listener’s environment. Objects are great when you have specific discrete sounds which want defined positions. We’d recommend trying to use objects when mixing Dolby Atmos Music, because at 48kHz we have about 118 objects available, generally allowing each instrument or voice to have an independent panner.

Do I Need Dolby Certification To Work In Dolby Atmos Home Entertainment?

For theatrical cinema release, you must use a Dolby Certified studio to mix and master your Dolby Atmos audio mix. ……..

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