Spatial Audio: Much brouhaha about nothing or just messing with our heads?

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Analogous

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I always wanted to use the word “brouhaha” (tick one off my bucket list); so when I saw this provocatively titled article, I did. I also said to myself “in the beginning It was mono, then came stereo, long pause then came four, five, 5.1, 7.2, 9.4, 11.? and so on.
As we know these large numbered audio systems soon captured the mass market where video rules.

A few relics (audiophiles? Enthusiasts, purists traditionallists?) like many of us proudly held the stereophonic flag aloft in the face of the onslaught of multi channel dolby atmos and the like.

Now comes the latest and greatest from the company that is now the richest (?) in the world….yes, yes, yes (cue:applause) ….the future of music is here…”Spatial Audio” (it doesn’t matter if they invented it or not; you must like it or feel like a under privileged person)

Here is the article that provoked this early morning rant:

let the tirades begin!

Disclosure: I use a Mac Pro, iPad …they work well and last long
 

msankadi

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I find it mostly a gimmick. Tidal has supported dolby atmos for at least more than a year.

I can hear it max for 10 15 minutes or just to show off to someone for a couple of minutes after that it feels like it is physically tiring for me.

Don't know what possible adverse impact it has on your inner ear as well. It definitely plays with your feeling of space and balance so I am sure it has some impact don't know scientifically if that's the case.

Hope we don't get a lot of lawsuits and vomiting train riders.
 
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Not commenting specifically on Dolby or AM’s implementation, but in general, I feel there’s a reason why spatial/surround is the way to go for movies, but not for music. Here’s my two penny logic:

A movie attempts to get you there - into the scene. And when you are experiencing/hearing what the characters in it are, it makes sense to have spatial/surround sound around you because that’s how it’s for the characters.

Music playback on the other hand, tries to simulate the experience of the live audience, and puristically speaking, in a non-amplified setting (without any strategically placed speakers as in some auditoriums). It’s just you and the musicians, with nothing in between - no electronics or speakers. There, the only source of audio is coming to you from the stage in front of you - where the artists are playing. Since we have two ears, we hear stereo, so stereo reproduction gets us close to the live experience. There’s no artist playing an instrument behind you, usually. If there’s, it’s gimmicky and not mainstream anyway. The only worthwhile exception to this would be a live rock concert (unlike classical concerts) where you have the crowd around you making noises that’s part of the experience as well as the recording and might make sense reproducing that sound to get an ‘in the concert’ feel.
 
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msankadi

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One more factor to consider is "How the director or artist intended for it to be heard".

In movies, sounds are specifically crafted to be heard from various angles and speakers. I am not aware of the technicalities but upfront lots of movies advertise Dolby Atmos etc. which I am guessing means that the sound has been recorded with that technology/protocol as well.

Music on the other hand, at least till 2021, has been recorded in stereo and any 'artificial processing/spatial coordinates' is just adding bias to how it was originally intended.

Also, Youtube 8D music has been around for a long time as well and there are a lot of songs, if people want to get a flavor of what it means
 

Kannan

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My 2 cents.

If the sound is originally mixed in Dolby Atmos itself, then it will have its intended impact, but will it be satisfying to the listener is another question.
Usually the movies with multichannel audio sound good as it is simultaneously correlated to the visuals on the screen which we are watching.
Now imagine the same movie where you cut off the screen and only keep the multichannel audio on, then it would soon get quite fatiguing and also pretty groggy. I have experienced this.

In my opinion, sound by itself on multichannel (or more than 2-channel) is not appealing to the ears due to the auditory limitation unless distracted by the visuals.
Many moons back I had totally ripped the entire DSOM album into 5.1 channel through some software. Though the initial impact was quite oomph, soon it became quite boring.

I have also tried the phantom center channel and panorama music concepts (front and back stereo mix the David Hafler and other ways) and also 2-channel and 4-channel Ambiophonics, but traditional 2-channel music or even mono channel for the older mixes is hard to beat.
2-channel Ambiophonics though, I enjoy a lot with Binaural tracks for the realism it creates.

Apple's new concept and if future songs are mixed in that faction could though become a commercial success, who knows.
 

Lizard King

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I always wanted to use the word “brouhaha” (tick one off my bucket list); so when I saw this provocatively titled article, I did. I also said to myself “in the beginning It was mono, then came stereo, long pause then came four, five, 5.1, 7.2, 9.4, 11.? and so on.
As we know these large numbered audio systems soon captured the mass market where video rules.

A few relics (audiophiles? Enthusiasts, purists traditionallists?) like many of us proudly held the stereophonic flag aloft in the face of the onslaught of multi channel dolby atmos and the like.

Now comes the latest and greatest from the company that is now the richest (?) in the world….yes, yes, yes (cue:applause) ….the future of music is here…”Spatial Audio” (it doesn’t matter if they invented it or not; you must like it or feel like a under privileged person)

Here is the article that provoked this early morning rant:

let the tirades begin!

Disclosure: I use a Mac Pro, iPad …they work well and last long
In so far as music is concerned, it's a gimmick. Has been attempted in many ways for many decades. But no takers. Quad stereo vinyls/ Multi Channel SACD, all failed.

Disclaimer: I use no Apple products. I don't understand what is the brouhaha all about. :)
 

Analogous

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In so far as music is concerned, it's a gimmick. Has been attempted in many ways for many decades. But no takers. Quad stereo vinyls/ Multi Channel SACD, all failed.

Disclaimer: I use no Apple products. I don't understand what is the brouhaha all about. :)
I have listened to Dolby’s different avatars and was left wondering what the fuss was all about. I plan to keep a open mind (or maybe limited expectations) of spatial audio till I can hear it.
I feel Its better to under-promise and over-deliver? But that’s not the trend in these times.
 

chander

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Are there any albums recorded in dolby formats? Anyone knows of any. Listening to a dolby album might give you a real feel, till then it is all - whatever floats your boat.

I have similar thoughts like @SachinChavan - unless I am misunderstanding what he is saying. The spatial audio can have a use case in terms of recreating a live atmosphere if recorded in spatial audio. However the challenge will still be from whose point of view, center of the arena/stadium/concert hall or from the point of view of the cheap seats - not much of a challenge there though - no one wants the cheap seats? But could be interesting if you keep an open mind.

Stereo recorded audio being forced to play in atmos is already being done by AVRs for years (atleast they have been attempting).

In the mean time check this out -

My ATV4K won't play surround sound from youtube for some weird reason on this particular video, so I can't test. This as far as I know was recorded in Dolby format.
 
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