Help Needed: Spatial Mixing Blues

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Mr. Afternoon

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It seems like I can't really mix spatial audio properly unless I have a Mac, and uh, I don't have a Mac.
Maybe I'm missing something so if someone experienced in this could enlighten me that would be great.
Kinda bummed out I can't mix in spatial at the moment...not that I have the rig to anyway! :ROFLMAO:
 

Old Quad Guy

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Just a quick note, so you can get the right type of help, what computer type do you have now. What program are you trying to run? And what are your goals with the app that you want to accomplish.
 

Mr. Afternoon

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Just a quick note, so you can get the right type of help, what computer type do you have now. What program are you trying to run? And what are your goals with the app that you want to accomplish.
Right now, I'm running a Windows install and I'm playing around with Reaper, but looks like proper Atmos/Auro-3D mixing is locked behind MacOS. My goal is to mix something in spatial, just to see how it is.
 

dabl

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Sadly yes, an Apple machine is currently a far easier path for Dolby Atmos.

For Windows Atmos you have to buy a separate special licensed Dell machine from a dealer to run the Dolby Renderer.

The good news is once you have an Apple machine you can use headphones to start off Atmos mixing.
 

jimfisheye

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I'm exclusively Mac and Reaper is my DAW of choice. Reaper also has a Windows version that I'm told is the highest functioning DAW for Windows that exists. Hackintosh might be a solution though to use OSX. So... any of us can mix what we please and into whatever speaker array we please. But if you want to author an Atmos format file with the height channels hidden in the metadata for their copy protection shenanigans, you'll need the Dolby plugins for the final render.

I know they initially went Protools format only to lock out other DAWs. I'd look up that $400 Dolby suite. (Also the only way at present to get a media player that 'sees' the height channels.)
 

Old Quad Guy

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Any recommendations for a Mac that will do the job without too much expense?

I see the Mac Mini and desktop models that are a screen. I don’t see Apple desktops that look like the G3 or G4 type design. I began with Apple in the late 80s, but have not kept up with the latest gear.
 

johnbs

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Any recommendations for a Mac that will do the job without too much expense?

I see the Mac Mini and desktop models that are a screen. I don’t see Apple desktops that look like the G3 or G4 type design. I began with Apple in the late 80s, but have not kept up with the latest gear.
A new Apple Mac Mini is a powerful machine (using Apple silicon which is ARM compatible) at a good price.

If you need more power, the Mac Studio should have a suitable option

I am an Apple developer, but don't do use much music software. This may be useful:


For Reaper, they have an ARM build, but it seems some plugins are not ARM native yet.
 

jimfisheye

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Any recommendations for a Mac that will do the job without too much expense?

I see the Mac Mini and desktop models that are a screen. I don’t see Apple desktops that look like the G3 or G4 type design. I began with Apple in the late 80s, but have not kept up with the latest gear.
The last of the higher end Jobs-era models. Or go Hackintosh. Apple kind of went hard with planned obsolescence after Jobs died. Soldering hard drives to the logic board kind of shenanigans. Then they serialize and register anything not soldered down to prevent any part swapping or replacement. But CPU speeds plateaued around 2011. These are "in between times" and it's better to go used or DIY.

I'm watching them and we'll see what they have when they release a 2nd gen of their new CPU. They'll need to put it in real computer builds though or I'll have zero interest. Meanwhile my "old" Mac Pro runs circles around that crap.

Also audio doesn't take a lot of CPU power. I can have a 300 track mix with 24/96 audio and mixing dialed up in both 5.1 and stereo and I'll see 30% CPU use and 4GB ram use. (Installing 96GB was silly!)
 

nikomen

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I apologize for interjecting here (from a newbie,) but I would like to learn to create my own upmixes for fun, and I know it can be challenging AND a labor of love. I’ve heard that maybe the easiest place to start is by using SpecWeb, but I currently own a $2600.00 MacBook Pro, and it looks like SpecWeb is made for Windows platform. I tried installing and running Windows virtually on a MacBook Air I have, but SpecWeb doesn’t install right no matter what I try.

Does anyone know if there is a user friendly program that you can use on Macs as a starter for creating upmixes to 5.1/7.1 (similar to SecWeb) without having to go buy a Windows machine?
 

jimfisheye

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I apologize for interjecting here (from a newbie,) but I would like to learn to create my own upmixes for fun, and I know it can be challenging AND a labor of love. I’ve heard that maybe the easiest place to start is by using SpecWeb, but I currently own a $2600.00 MacBook Pro, and it looks like SpecWeb is made for Windows platform. I tried installing and running Windows virtually on a MacBook Air I have, but SpecWeb doesn’t install right no matter what I try.

Does anyone know if there is a user friendly program that you can use on Macs as a starter for creating upmixes to 5.1/7.1 (similar to SecWeb) without having to go buy a Windows machine?
It's mixing from actual source multitrack recordings that can take some decent processing power. Just running some upmix plugin or stand alone app will not tax even light weight netbooks (within reason). I don't mean to just demean upmixing. Just matter of fact - this isn't what's being talked about with needing computer power for actual mixing in surround.

I haven't demo'd SpecWeb. It's possible it might have only been written for Windows? You'll still find examples like that. Audio is usually the other way with Mac only stuff. Anyway, you don't need to run out and buy a Mac just to upmix! A more serious computer purchase needs to be justified by actual processing needs IMHO. Also I recommend avoiding post-Jobs Apple and any other computer maker doing stuff like soldering hard drives in! But I digress as usual.

FYI, you can run Windows-only apps natively in OSX with Wine installed. You don't need to emulate another OS - but you can do that too. You could install WindosOS if you wanted to on any machine too. (Got to pay for it. Their licensing is apparently the one thing they're on point with too!)
 

zeerround

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I apologize for interjecting here (from a newbie,) but I would like to learn to create my own upmixes for fun, and I know it can be challenging AND a labor of love. I’ve heard that maybe the easiest place to start is by using SpecWeb, but I currently own a $2600.00 MacBook Pro, and it looks like SpecWeb is made for Windows platform. I tried installing and running Windows virtually on a MacBook Air I have, but SpecWeb doesn’t install right no matter what I try.

Does anyone know if there is a user friendly program that you can use on Macs as a starter for creating upmixes to 5.1/7.1 (similar to SecWeb) without having to go buy a Windows machine?
PM'd
 
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zeerround

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For the OP, when you say you want to do a spatial mix, it looks like you and others have jumped all the way into Atmos Production tools.

My question would be do you just want to do an "immersive" mix for yourself, and if so do you have a way to output and play 8 to 16 channels from your computer?

If the answer to both questions is yes, we don't need to worry about Atmos (or other production/encoding tools). You just need a DAW, or other Audio Program (such as Plogue Bidule) that can handle the needed number of channels (and do the panning assignments).

Note that if you want to mix for others, delivering an atmos encoded result (vs. delivering to a streaming service that is going to do their own encoding) you can get a lossy atmos encoding via Amazon's cloud based media convert service, for pennies a track. You can encode up to 16 channels this way, so 9.1.6, but no objects (but you can use pan automation to simulate moving objects, and let the Atmos decoder handle downmixing to other numbers of speakers). You just need a mono file for each channel, and an empty or not empty video file of the same length. You get back an atmos encoded mp4 that can be played to and Atmos AVR, over HDMI, from VLC, etc.

Lossless encodeing (Dolby Atmos or DTS:X or Aura 3D) or delivering an immersive package to streamers IS going to require a lot of expensive software. A DAW like Pro Tools Ultimate or Logic Pro X and likely only on a Mac (although I thought someone here posted that there was a Windows DAW supporting atmos now???).

I have done several stereo to 7.1.4 up-remixes, using music source separation AI tools to get the different instrument stems, upmixing some into 5.1 or 7.1.4 and re-mixing the others into 7.1.4 all in Plogue Bidule ($95US) and encoding to lossy atmos via Amazon cloud. Video files made with the free AudioMuxer tool.

I have a 16 channel audio interface, and my studio setup is genelec powered speakers, and I have built passive balanced mixing cables so the computer audio interface AND a Marantz AV7704 pre-amp AVR can feed my 7.1.4 setup, without changing 12 cables. So I can seamlessly listen to either the computer or encoded content via the ATMOS/Auro 3d/DTS:X decoder in the AVR.
 

zeerround

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There are also ways to mix for immersive using headphone virtualization.

The quality depending on how much you spend ;0)
 

zeerround

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Hmmm $0? I'm checking it out. You'll need an iLok.

Will be great if its a free encoder. Just be aware that, at least in the US, AVRs may not have Auro 3D decoders. I made sure mine could do Auro 3D in addition to Atmos and DTS:X, but others may not have.
 

zeerround

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OK the catches:

1) Windows vs. Mac:

1652885575115.png


2) You'll note that for free you can't actually encode anything. You'd have to ship your mix to someone else to encode, or pay for the encoder.

Looks like the encoder (for music) is $20/month or $50/quarter.

You can get Auro 3D headphone out (binaural) of the free version.

I can't justify the subscription cost for me, having already paid for Atmos and DTS:X, but could look for a pay as you go encoding service, similar to Amazon's media converter, for lossy atmos.
 

oleintagout

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They do no help smaller artists and independent content creators do they? Seems to be money over art. Commerse first.

To mix in Atmos, what exactly is needed?
 

jimfisheye

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They do no help smaller artists and independent content creators do they? Seems to be money over art. Commerse first.

To mix in Atmos, what exactly is needed?
To mix?
Your favorite DAW app and an audio interface (or multiple) with enough outputs for the channel format you want to mix to. eg. at least 12 output channels for 7.1.4. There are some ProtoolsHD only plugins and they're pushing to lock this down as Protools only but you don't have to play along. We all already tend to use our favorite 3rd party joystick panner plugins. Or just draw automation. You can mix what you want in whatever DAW you want. It's just 12 channels of PCM audio (for 7.1.4).

If you want to deliver in the Atmos format (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 with the .4 height channels hidden in metadata) that requires the Atmos codec to decode, you need their encoder suite. This is where the push to keep this proprietary lives. Dolby sells a subscription to their encoder suite for $400/year and they give you a free media player that decodes the full lossless Atmos format that allegedly will keep working independent of their subscription scam.

You can set up speakers and start mixing right now. Delivering it in their 'ringer' of an encoded format is the stumbling point. Playing the files as a consumer is a big stumbling point at present with Dolby aggressively keeping the software hidden to push hardware sales.

I was wanting to do this the other way around...
Grab a few Atmos mixes first and hear what a couple people did. Day 1 would have been solo'ing pairs/arrays of channels on the 5.1 system. That was supposed to lead to motivation to hanging height speakers and throwing a couple sides in. Then finally listening to some mixes with a full 7.1.4 system. Now it's time to start making some mixes! Now follow up on required encoder software for consumer delivery.

Very difficult finding the motivation to jump in hanging speakers and mixing when the decoder is on lockdown and they're basically turning this into a form of copy protection. And with shitty stepped on streaming hash and seat of the pants remixes! Took the wind right out of my sails.

But there's literally nothing stopping any of us from setting up more channels and making some 7.1.4 mixes.
 

zeerround

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They do no help smaller artists and independent content creators do they? Seems to be money over art. Commerse first.

To mix in Atmos, what exactly is needed?
Well there is a difference in "to mix" and "to render (encode)". But any it looks like prices have come down and the Dolby Atmos Production Suite can be had for $299, at least from Avid if you are a Pro tools ultimate customer.

The Dolby Atmos Production Suite is designed to run on the same Mac as the DAW and provides a single workstation environment/workflow to create Dolby Atmos content for Post or Music. Compatible and qualified DAWs include Ableton Live, Apple Logic Pro, Avid Pro Tools Ultimate, Blackmagic Designs Resolve and Steinberg Nuendo​
As far as I know that's an Intel mac, vs. M1. I run on a "trashcan" mac pro.

That is the official path. Now if you just want to mix in 10 to 16 channels (5.1.4, 7.1.2, 7.1.4, 9.1.4, or 9.1.6) and encode your content with channel based (vs. object based) lossy atmos, you can use any DAW or audio software that can support the needed number of channels.

Besides the raw number of channels, how you are going to pan/assign audio to output channels also needs to be considered (does your DAW have an immersive surround panner or will you need a plugin or do you even care if you will only be panning between two output channels for any track?).

exporting/bouncing to mono files, you can encode using Amazon's mediac onverter service, for pennies per track. You'll need an empty, static, or full motion video file of the same length as your audio (audiomuxer is one possible free tool for that) and Amazon will give you back an Lossy ATMOS encoded mp4 that can be played in VLC via hdmi etc.

The quality will be equivalent (though different) to what you hear on Tidal Atmos.

Any movement of sound will have to handled by manual panning or panning automation between channels, and you are dependent on the Atmos decoder to downmix from your targeted number of channels to whatever the end listener has (as opposed to the object based decoding). There are some gottchas here I can say more about but basically you probably want to target 7.1.4 (12 channels) and if you want wide front or mid ceiling do it with panning vs. assigning to those channels in a 9.1.6 (16 channel) layout.

Note that this approach won't work if your goal is deliver mixes to streaming services, or others that want to do their own encoding. They are going to expect a file output from the Atmos Production Suite.

DTS:X is similar. You need a (intel) mac, etc.
 
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