What is DOLBY ATMOS?
Dolby Atmos is an immersive audio format that expands upon traditional surround sound and provides an exceptional leap forward in the way we listen to music, play games, watch movies and consume media.
It uses three-dimensional object based audio as opposed to a single plane of two dimensional channel based audio. This involves the use of metadata attached to audio tracks in a mix and provides the means to mix not by panning left to right, but by coordinates in 3D space. Mixing material this way allows the master file to delivery for many different types of specifications from a single all encompassing mix that drips down to lower deliverables.
How does Dolby Atmos work?Dolby Atmos uses metadata in addition to traditional audio to create an immersive experience for listeners. What this means is that sound is no longer bound to a set amount of speakers in a monitoring environment and is panned using coordinates in 3D space rather than by channel. It also adds the dimension of height to the existing surround plane so that the project really can exist in a 3-dimensional way. When mixing, we are able to position elements within your creative project all around the room in any direction; from side to side, front to back as well as above you. Because of the metadata, the information is mapped using software rather than traditionally straight routing and can be extrapolated into a scalable system. This is how Dolby Atmos is able to offer playback to a wide variety of sound systems and layouts of many different arrangements and speaker amounts. This offers the ultimate experience for your listeners no matter what device or environment they are playing it in, from a phone, a 5.1 home theatre system or a 80 speaker theatre.
Why is Dolby Atmos different than other formats?Channel-based Audio First there was mono, a single speaker. Sound could only come from a single place and was entirely 1 dimensional. When stereo was introduced, it gave you 2 speakers (left & right) which changed the game in a big way and is still used as an effective standard for delivering music. Adding to that, rear speakers were added which was called quadrophonic, encompassing listeners in a pair of front stereo channels and rear stereo channels. When 5.1 came about, the industry changed again. It allowed for a centre channel for clear vocal and dialogue while music and effects could be panned in a 5 speaker array. The .1 described a dedicated sub-woofer channel that allowed for a full frequency response within a 6-channel mix. Next came 7.1 which added sides the the existing array of channels and delivered a more detailed sonic experience particularly in the areas where audio would move from front to back or vice versa, side speakers would make the transition seem that much more realistic. The only problem was the for each of these systems, the delivery was only ever a single tiered option and the consumer would have to ensure they were playing the optimised version for their speaker system. This meant that filmmakers and musicians would have to create multiple mixes for each delivery format to allow each tier of speaker system have a playback option. It was expensive and tiring especially for audio engineers and creatives. Object-based Audio Now enter Dolby Atmos. A new way to mix using computing technology that had never before been used to create music or soundtracks for film. Instead of creating multiple mix deliveries for specific speaker layouts, Dolby Atmos lets us create one mix that encompasses all of them in the best way. We used to pan audio to a fixed speaker location to create surround sound fields or even stereo mixes with width and dimensionality. With Atmos, we use coordinate based objects that retain metadata to allow for upscaling or downscaling the ratios in which they make up a mix. This means that on any speaker system setup for any format, Atmos can play material to suit. But that's not all... It also added a new dimension - height! In addition to scalability, saving multiple mixes and simply building a one mix fits all scenario, we now can pan audio as objects above the listener to improve the immersion even further. Now sound exists in all directions surrounding you like never before. We're still not done... Dolby Atmos's metadata speaks to the playback device - which now are occupied by iPhones, cars, TVs, sound systems, cinemas... giving you the best possible output for whatever destination you send it to. There is even a binaural version that emulates surround sound for headphones to make it feel like you have speakers all around you. Dolby Atmos is the smartest choice when building you creative project's audio mix because it gives your audience the broadest scope and flexibility when listening to provide the best possible experience wherever they are. Dolby Atmos is here to stay!
What else do I get with my Dolby Atmos mix?Because Dolby Atmos uses metadata to pan with coordinates in three-dimensional space, the system is scalable both up and down to any speaker layout. This means that when you mix your project in Dolby Atmos, it also includes a superior way of down-mixing from Atmos to other channel-based surround formats that are still widely used. These include: 7.1 Surround 5.1 Surround Stereo AmbiX Binaural
What do I need to get started with Dolby Atmos?Mixing your project in Dolby Atmos requires a few things. We’ll need the following: Tempo/BPM information Quantity of mix stems Stereo final Master reference (if released) Audio files at unity Mix Stems at 48kHz 24bit No mix bus or group processing When applicable, provide a AAF file including all audio files
What does the Dolby Atmos Master File look like (DAMF)?The Dolby Atmos delivery package is known as a Master File. There are four types of Atmos Master Files. The first is a DAMF DAMF (Dolby Atmos Master File) filename.atmos filename.atmos.metadata filename.atmos.audio ADM BWF (Audio Descriptive Model Broadcast WAV Format) This file is an alternative to DAMF and is not proprietary to Dolby. It is a single file that is basically a broadcast WAV with a huge data chunk at the head containing the .atmos and .atmos.metadata information. IAB/IMF (Immersive Audio Bitstream for IMF) This is a frame based representation of the DAMF in a single file, which is specified for IMF (Interoperability Mastering Format). IMF mastering tools can be import and export IAB/MXF and master to IMF. IAB/IMF is an .mxf file with interleaved PCM and metadata. 9.1.6/7.1.4/5.1.4 PCM The Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite and standalone Dolby Atmos Production Suite can render to 9.1.6, 7.1.4, 5.1.4. Rendering Object Based Immersive (OBI) to Channel Based Immersive (CBI) is a hybrid workflow. OBI is used during the creative process and CBI for encoding and delivery. The 9.1.6 is rendered by the OAR in the consumers home and with speaker layouts at 9.1.6 and below is identical in listening tests to the rendered OBI. While not technically delivering “real” OBI the use of 9.1.6 can simplify downstream workflows for editing, joining idents and ratings card, watermarking, etc. 7.1.4 output is provided to allow for immersive cut scenes and trailers in gaming engines to accompany realtime game play. 5.1.4 is provided to facilitate immersive post produced sound design for live playout CBI applications.
Where can my audience watch my film in Dolby Atmos?Dolby Atmos is available across the world on a huge variety of platforms. For film & tv, all major distributors have adapted the format to offer the best sound options including Disney+, Netflix, Amazon Prime & Stan. In addition to streaming services, BluRays are capable of encoding Dolby Atmos for home entertainment as well as DCP's for cinema play can be created for filmmakers. Once built, the delivery can offer playback in any Atmos enabled theatre no matter the speaker format as a result of the metadata encoded.
Where can my listeners hear Dolby Atmos Music?Apple has adopted Spatial Music as a Dolby Atmos distributor while others like AvidPlay, Tidal and Amazon Music have also been offering atmos players for the last few years. In addition, Spotify is well on the way to adding Dolby Atmos to their list of services and will complete the circle for all of the major players in the music industry.
I have already started to mix in Dolby Atmos, what do I give you?If you have already partially mixed a track in Dolby Atmos and are looking to finish it with Stampede Immersive, we ask you to provide us with the following things to get started. Current ADM for reference Current IMF Original Stereo reference Current Stereo reference DAW Session if applicable Original multitrack
Everything you need to build an immersive environment for your next project.
From traditional stereo all the way up to 5.1, 7.1 and Dolby Atmos for home entertainment and music, our aim is to bring the best audio technologies available today into reach for all creatives.
Contact us today to talk about getting started with Dolby Atmos!
Dolby Atmos IS HERE!
Early into the studio's development, we decided to go with Adam Audio as our studio monitor brand of choice. We have a 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos monitoring room fitted out with x13 of Adam's T5V monitors and x1 T10S sub-woofer to complete the system.
Become a success story!
Mix in Dolby Atmos for your project from the ground up and create smarter deliveries with lower channel-based re-renders for 7.1, 5.1, stereo and more.
Have every option taken care of from one all-encompassing top tier immersive mix.
Dolby Atmos not only adds additional speakers to your surround experience.
It enhances the surround field with richer frequency reproduction and smoother object-based panning that can exist anywhere in 3D space.
Like anything, there is so much to know about Dolby Atmos and it keeps growing.
Luckily, we are committed to the tech as much as the service we provide so you can rest assured that your project is being met with only the best customs that exist in audio production for the format.