Apple Joining the Atmos streaming game!

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wilberforce55

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A lot of these comments we’ve heard before:

How can surround be better than stereo? The original stereo is how it should sound, why is the music not in the front only. Blah, blah.
I don't think the same argument exists now though. when comments were made before you had a physical choice to buy the surround version or the stereo version. Reading this blog the concern is that as we now move to a streaming only world (lets face it, that is what the majority of the population listen to now) the versions on the servers run by Apple (and potentially spotify) will become the definitive version, even though the original artists/producers may have had no input into what now become the definitive version.

In the past,we had choice. Maybe not so much anymore
 

himey

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I don't think the same argument exists now though. when comments were made before you had a physical choice to buy the surround version or the stereo version. Reading this blog the concern is that as we now move to a streaming only world (lets face it, that is what the majority of the population listen to now) the versions on the servers run by Apple (and potentially spotify) will become the definitive version, even though the original artists/producers may have had no input into what now become the definitive version.

In the past,we had choice. Maybe not so much anymore
Curious if you think this fear of yours will happen overnight or slowly?
 

Toto4Ever

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Stupid DPD !!! Got a nice photo of my property, but no Apple 4K TV box delivered today & I was here….given no hour time slot…..so tomorrow now….there was I thinking I was going to be trying out Dolby Atmos, e.t.c. today….
Why can’t you speak to an actual person, with these courier companies ?? ( because they know they’d be inundated with verbal abuse ! )
 
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pti

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Can you give some examples of the ones that play in multi-channel, and some that do not ?
I'm curious if some of the songs are 4.0/5.0/5.1, and you're able to play only those in multi-channel on the Mac.
For example, this album appears as 'Atmos', but this is a classical 4.0 album from the 70's, available on Blu Ray.
I doubt this is a new Atmos remix -- I'm assuming it's upmixed from 4.0 to Atmos.
Here are a few from near the beginning of the Spatial Audio playlist.
 

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harync

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I don't think pre-2018 Macs will output Atmos under any circumstances and after 2018 it is only available through speakers or headphones. See Device Support at this Dolby MacOS support page: Dolby Audio Apple macOS Support Dolby Developer | Dolby Developer and this comment at an Apple forum: Mac mini M1 2020 Dolby Atmos Support - Apple Community

This morning I took my Macbook Pro (2016 15" i7) and connected via HDMI to my Atmos AVR and 5.2.4 speakers. The Mac recognized the AVR and set output to 7.1. I had to upgrade to the latest version of the MacOS and after doing that I could select "Always Atmos" for Apple Music. Unfortunately the incoming signal (reported by the AVR as 7.1) would only play 5.1 (no heights). There is a utility called Audio Midi setup that lets you test individual speakers, but there are no options for height speakers. I also tested .m2ts files from Abbey Road and Automatic for the People with VLC and the Mac (and/or VLC) ignored the Atmos metadata. The same files play perfectly on my Sony X800m2.

I suspect Apple TV is the only Apple device capable of putting out an Atmos compatible signal for AVRs. My guess is everything else (iPhone and Mac) just does some kind of processing meant for headphones. Results may vary for people with external audio processors.
 

mrcond

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I agree. How can one say that an artist intended a song or album to be heard in stereo unless the artist was given the choice to release each in multichannel as well and turned it down?
I understand the commercial ramifications, but I would guess most artists would prefer their music to be heard in a more discrete, immersive way revealing more detail.
As you point out - look how many classic artists are approving multichannel mixes now that they have the opportunity to revisit their catalog 👍🏼
So I just realized the "respected music producer" who wrote this blog is Bob Lefsetz, who as I recall had a podcast interview with Steven Wilson and sounded a bit clueless on the whole surround music thing. So I guess I'm not that surprised.
 

OregonSurround Fan

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Is it just me, or is Apple Spatial Audio simply an upmix with some really nice lipstick? I've done some A/B testing, and it does not appear that the engineers are working from the original multitrack masters (as opposed to, for example, the 5.1 DVD-A mix of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Don't get me wrong: Some of the stuff sounds great - but, it doesn't come close to the full-meal deal. It seems like it's the best-available 2.0 material that's been processed by a state-of-the-art algorithm. Please let me know if I'm missing something!
 

KMO

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then again...4500 euros! ...is not ready for the masses.
You can get something doing something very similar for a lot less: Playstation VR.

3D object-based audio with head-tracking (in every game). It's very impressive.

Not quite the ideal form factor if you want audio-only though :) And it doesn't support Dolby Atmos at the moment, so won't match your streaming needs.

But, anyway, VR technology and its head tracking is getting increasingly mainstream and streamlined, so transferring that into headphone-only form as a consumer product won't be far away.
 

LennonCobain

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Is it just me, or is Apple Spatial Audio simply an upmix with some really nice lipstick? I've done some A/B testing, and it does not appear that the engineers are working from the original multitrack masters (as opposed to, for example, the 5.1 DVD-A mix of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Don't get me wrong: Some of the stuff sounds great - but, it doesn't come close to the full-meal deal. It seems like it's the best-available 2.0 material that's been processed by a state-of-the-art algorithm. Please let me know if I'm missing something!
Like all multichannel formats that have come before, the quality and discreteness of mixes will vary greatly. I would not be shocked if some Atmos mixes will be a software-based “upmix.”
 

OregonSurround Fan

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Like all multichannel formats that have come before, the quality and discreteness of mixes will vary greatly. I would not be shocked if some Atmos mixes will be a software-based “upmix.”
Thanks for the reply. I'm wondering if ANY of the Apple titles will be remixed from the original studio multitracks (and yes, the quality of those 5.1 DVD-A, SACD mixes varies greatly). The HUGE difference is whether they are re-mixed from the original, discrete studio tracks (i.e. the original vocal track, guitar tracks, etc.) versus a mix created by sending it through a processor to create reverb to the rears, for example, or trying to separate the instruments and vocals with equalization (i.e. an algorithm).
 

harync

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Is it just me, or is Apple Spatial Audio simply an upmix with some really nice lipstick? I've done some A/B testing, and it does not appear that the engineers are working from the original multitrack masters (as opposed to, for example, the 5.1 DVD-A mix of Fleetwood Mac's Rumours). Don't get me wrong: Some of the stuff sounds great - but, it doesn't come close to the full-meal deal. It seems like it's the best-available 2.0 material that's been processed by a state-of-the-art algorithm. Please let me know if I'm missing something!
Do you have an Atmos system? If not, the offerings on Apple Music (mostly, if not all, commissioned by Dolby and not Apple) are not going to compare to a typical 5.1 mix. When listening in 5.1 without heights, the instruments that would ordinarily be subtracted out of the L-C-R-LS-RS and added to the height speakers are instead mixed in leading to a lack of separation. A better comparison would be the Bluray of the Atmos version of REM's Automatic for the People compared to the Apple Music version, which should be the same other than the compression. Neither will sound like the previous Elliot Scheiner 5.1 mix.
 

humprof

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I've just read that the newest recording by John Luther Adams, Arctic Dreams, is streaming in Atmos on Apple Music.
I'd appreciate hearing any reports--and hearing whether Tidal also has it. Nathaniel Reichman's previous Atmos mixes of JLA's work have been quite wonderful.
 
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