What is Dolby Atmos Music, and How Can You Experience It?

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Whether or not we get our music by means of streaming providers, satellite tv for pc radio, CDs, or vinyl, most of it has been recorded utilizing the time-honored strategy of two-channel stereo. However over the previous few years, there’s been a rising motion within the recording trade towards so-called spatial audio codecs. The preferred of those codecs is Dolby Atmos Music, and it may possibly make good ol’ stereo sound like mono AM radio.

However what precisely is Dolby Atmos Music? How is it totally different than stereo? And how much gear do it’s worthwhile to take heed to it at residence and on the go? We’ve bought all the pieces it’s worthwhile to know to get on the Dolby Atmos Music prepare.

What’s Dolby Atmos Music?

Tidal

Should you’ve been to see a blockbuster motion film within the theaters, you’ve in all probability already heard what Dolby Atmos can do for motion pictures, with its immersive, three-dimensional sound area. Dolby Atmos Music places that very same know-how into the palms of musicians and producers, letting them craft songs that possess a higher sense of house and depth than the standard stereo recordings we’re used to.

Extra on Dolby Atmos:

Hold the channels open

Trendy-day music producers have entry to some very refined digital recording gear that lets them combine music from dozens of separate channels (additionally referred to as tracks). Nevertheless, regardless of what number of channels they begin with, in the event that they’re making a stereo recording, these a number of channels have to be mixed finally into simply two channels: A left and a proper, which corresponds to the 2 audio system in a stereo surroundings. Dolby Atmos Music, then again, is a local encompass sound know-how, with assist for as much as 128 channels and as much as 34 separate audio system in a house theater, together with audio system that may direct sound down towards the listener from the ceiling.

That sounds just like the type of factor you’d get in a business movie show, and it’s — Dolby Atmos is used for creating extremely immersive soundtracks for motion pictures, with sound that feels prefer it’s coming from in entrance of you, behind you, either side, and above. However that very same recording approach can be utilized with music for the same outcome: Complete sonic immersion.

It will be straightforward to dismiss Dolby Atmos Music as merely a strategy to play regular tracks over a encompass sound setup. In spite of everything, each residence theater receiver can take an audio supply like vinyl, CD, or streaming media and run it by means of circuits and software program that optimize it for a encompass system, like a 7.1 speaker setup. However Atmos Music isn’t a conversion of stereo into multichannel encompass — it’s a from-scratch-made recording that makes use of these further channels in an entire new manner.

One of many defining traits of each Dolby Atmos for motion pictures and Dolby Atmos Music is that an object (or within the case of music, an instrument or vocal observe) might be manipulated in 3D house by the producer independently. For instance, when listening to Atmos Music on an Atmos-compatible sound system, you may hear the violins from the entrance of the room as a symphony begins, however because the music continues over time, these devices may very well be steadily shifted in house to really feel as if they’re coming from throughout you. It’s an unprecedented diploma of management for producers, and very like the 3D impact in motion pictures, it’d really feel jarring and even tacky if it have been executed in a ham-fisted manner. However by the identical token, it may possibly additionally really feel chic when the spatial choices are manipulated by a deft and skilled hand.

How can I take heed to Dolby Atmos Music?

Listening to Dolby Atmos Music is feasible when you will have a supply of Dolby Atmos Music and an audio system that’s able to taking part in this format.

For most individuals, the simplest strategy to entry Dolby Atmos Music tracks might be to make use of a music streaming service. As of December 2021, your choices are Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music. Apple Music and Amazon Music embody Dolby Atmos Music tracks of their commonplace $10 per thirty days worth tiers, whereas Tidal requires a dearer $20 per thirty days HiFi Plus subscription.

Sadly for Spotify followers, Spotify hasn’t introduced any plans to supply Dolby Atmos Music tracks. This will change as soon as Spotify lastly launches its promised Hello-Fi lossless music tier.

For audiophiles, the easiest Dolby Atmos Music supply is Blu-ray discs. Blu-ray discs can be utilized to play Atmos Music and several other albums have been launched on this format. Beatles followers might be completely happy to know that <em>Abbey Highway</em> occurs to be considered one of them.

The most important benefit of Dolby Atmos Music on Blu-ray is that the audio is offered in Dolby TrueHD, a 24-bit high-resolution, lossless audio format, making it the very best doable high quality for Atmos.

These embody stay live performance performances in addition to particular Dolby Atmos variations of music albums, just like the 30th Anniversary launch of <em>Kick</em> by INXS.

Atmos Music on residence theater audio system and soundbars

Sonos Arc Dolby Atmos soundbar.
Sonos

Should you personal a Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar or A/V receiver, there are two methods you may take heed to Dolby Atmos Music.

  • From a Dolby Atmos-capable streaming system just like the Apple TV 4K or Nvidia Protect TV/Protect TV Professional.
    • You’ll want a streaming music app like Apple Music, Tidal, or Amazon Music and a subscription degree that offers you entry to the Dolby Atmos Music catalogs these providers supply.
    • Some providers like Netflix supply stay live performance movies in Dolby Atmos, like Taylor Swift’s Repute Stadium Tour. Once more, you’ll want the suitable subscription degree to get entry to Dolby Atmos content material.
  • From a Dolby Atmos-capable Blu-ray participant.
    • You’ll want Blu-ray discs that embody Dolby Atmos audio tracks.

For both of those situations, you’ll want to ensure your audio system is receiving its sign from an HDMI connection. Connecting a Blu-ray participant to your TV through HDMI after which connecting your TV to your soundbar through optical cable gained’t work. For extra on Dolby Atmos’s connection necessities, see our explainer:  know in case you’re truly getting Dolby Atmos sound.

Some sensible TVs, like LG’s WebOS, assist streaming music apps like Apple Music, however they don’t essentially assist Dolby Atmos Music as a format. You’ll want to verify all the specs to your setup.

Atmos Music on wi-fi audio system

Amazon Echo Studio wireless smart speaker.
John Velasco / Digital Tendencies

There are at the moment two wi-fi audio system which might be Dolby Atmos-compatible. Apple’s now-discontinued HomePod, which might play Dolby Atmos tracks from Apple Music, and the Amazon Echo Studio 3D wi-fi sensible speaker, which might do the identical factor utilizing Amazon Music.

Atmos Music on smartphones and tablets

In contrast to Dolby Atmos Music on soundbars, A/V receivers, or sensible audio system, which all require Atmos-compatible gear, an rising variety of smartphones and tablets are Dolby Atmos-compatible and don’t require any further {hardware}. Any set of wired or wi-fi headphones will work, however there are two key caveats:

  • Your telephone should assist spatial audio.
  • Your most well-liked music service should have a Dolby Atmos catalog, and its app should assist streaming in Dolby Atmos in your explicit telephone.

iPhone 7 and newer fashions all assist spatial audio, as do the next iPads:

  • iPad Professional 12.9‑inch (Third-generation) and later
  • iPad Professional 11‑inch
  • iPad Air (Third-generation) and later
  • iPad (Sixth-generation) and later
  • iPad mini (Fifth-generation) and later

Spatial audio assist on Android gadgets is sweet on quite a lot of fashions from Samsung, Motorola, LG, Sony, and Huawei. Google’s Pixel line of telephones appears to be hit-and-miss with regards to Dolby Atmos assist. Apple Music and Tidal don’t assist Atmos playback on Pixels, however Amazon Music does.

What sort of music is offered in Dolby Atmos Music?

Dolby is at the moment partnered with two main music corporations: Common Music Group and Warner Music Group. Each corporations have stated they are going to be releasing new recordings in addition to back-catalog classics within the Atmos Music format. The precise variety of Atmos Music tracks isn’t one thing any of the gamers have shared publicly, although earlier commitments peg the scale within the hundreds.

Warner hasn’t provided an inventory of its accessible artists, however Common has stated its Atmos Music contributions will embody tracks from Bastille, The Beatles, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Woman Gaga, Luciano Pavarotti, Marvin Gaye, and The Weeknd — to call a number of.

Are there some other methods to expertise Dolby Atmos Music?

A DJ standing at a mixing board.

Some golf equipment are starting to put in Dolby Atmos Music programs that give performing DJs the flexibility to regulate their music in 3D house across the membership. These embody Ministry of Sound in London, Sound-Bar in Chicago, and Halcyon in San Francisco.

Are there any opponents to Dolby Atmos Music?

Phone showing Sony 360 Reality Audio on Tidal.
Tidal

Atmos Music’s most important competitors comes from Sony. The brand new 360 Actuality Audio format (360RA), which gave our employees the chills throughout the demo at CES 2019, can be an immersive, object-based audio format for each audio system and headphones. It made its streaming debut on the Deezer music service in October 2019 and arrived on Tidal shortly afterward. Now you can discover 360RA tracks on Amazon Music and Nugs.web, too.

As the brand new child on the block, 360RA has a protracted, steep climb to catch as much as Dolby Atmos it doesn’t matter what Sony says. 360RA at the moment falls quick on each the recording and playback sides of the equation. Early evaluations of Sony’s 360RA audio system, the SRS-RA3000 and SRS-RA5000, counsel that Dolby doesn’t have to fret — not within the quick time period, at the least.

Nevertheless, because the proprietor of the large Sony BMG music publishing empire, Sony has an enormous benefit in pushing its idea of immersive music ahead, so it’s powerful to rely the newcomer out at this level. The subsequent few years might be vital to the success of those competing applied sciences. And sure, shoppers will almost certainly discover themselves caught in one other format struggle.

Dolby Atmos is totally different than the rest in the marketplace proper now, making it troublesome to totally respect it with out listening to it your self.

If you’re able to make the change from lackluster stereo music to Dolby’s progressive “immersive” system, Dolby’s proprietary tech will take you there. Sony or DTS will catch up finally, however for now, Dolby’s main the pack. Actually, we will’t wait to listen to how music will enhance subsequent.

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