Help Needed: Spatial Mixing Blues

QuadraphonicQuad Home Audio Forum

Help Support QuadraphonicQuad Home Audio Forum:

zeerround

Moderator
Moderator
QQ Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
703
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.

As I've stated you can mix for 7.1.4 now, and encode now to lossy atmos on Amazon's cloud. for a few pennies per track. Playback still requires something to decode the atmos...

I've mentioned a way to have one setup that plays both from your DAW, and from and AVR Preamp, using passive mixing balanced cables (ground lift on one side), or you can buy Radial mix 2:1 (x 12) if you don't want to solder your own, so you don't have to plug unplug 12 XLRs to change setups.

I've also mentioned you could use headphone virtualization, as a way to get started without buying and hanging speakers.

Top of the line would be a Smyth Realizer A16 an I actually use that 99% of the time vs. turning on the 13 Genelecs in the studio. Has to be heard to be believed, but that is covered in other threads...
 

zeerround

Moderator
Moderator
QQ Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
703
The Auro-3D VST (free and there is a windows version) would be a (free) headphone virtualization solution (no head tracking, however):

1652893151624.png


1652893176473.png


I sent them an email to get more info about head size (units? ear to ear distance, circumference?) but basically set it by ear as best I could.
 

oleintagout

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Messages
44
Location
Manchester UK
As I've stated you can mix for 7.1.4 now, and encode now to lossy atmos on Amazon's cloud. for a few pennies per track. Playback still requires something to decode the atmos...

I've mentioned a way to have one setup that plays both from your DAW, and from and AVR Preamp, using passive mixing balanced cables (ground lift on one side), or you can buy Radial mix 2:1 (x 12) if you don't want to solder your own, so you don't have to plug unplug 12 XLRs to change setups.

I've also mentioned you could use headphone virtualization, as a way to get started without buying and hanging speakers.

Top of the line would be a Smyth Realizer A16 an I actually use that 99% of the time vs. turning on the 13 Genelecs in the studio. Has to be heard to be believed, but that is covered in other threads...
I have all the speakers, subs needed and a windows laptop connected to Atmos/DTX Auro capable receiver.

Would I need to buy mac and Atmos mastering suite then that is it? I am still confused.
 

zeerround

Moderator
Moderator
QQ Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
703
I have all the speakers, subs needed and a windows laptop connected to Atmos/DTX Auro capable receiver.

Would I need to buy mac and Atmos mastering suite then that is it? I am still confused.
What is your goal?

Who do you want to deliver your content to?

To monitor your mix, prior to encoding,, you need an audio interface with the required number of outputs, 10 for 5.1.4, 12 for 7.1.4, etc. Then you need a way to get those line level outputs to play on your speakers. Does your AVR have line level inputs for all channels?
 

oleintagout

Member
Joined
May 6, 2022
Messages
44
Location
Manchester UK
What is your goal?

Who do you want to deliver your content to?

To monitor your mix, prior to encoding,, you need an audio interface with the required number of outputs, 10 for 5.1.4, 12 for 7.1.4, etc. Then you need a way to get those line level outputs to play on your speakers. Does your AVR have line level inputs for all channels?

Myself for fun. nothing commercial.
I use HDMI from laptop, is that not ok?
 

MidiMagic

1K Club - QQ Shooting Star
Joined
Jul 5, 2010
Messages
1,384
And to think I need only a 4-bus mixer and my tiny encoder module to encode RM.

My idea of a compatibility chart for digital surround:

8sbraack.gif
 
Last edited:

zeerround

Moderator
Moderator
QQ Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
703
Myself for fun. nothing commercial.
I use HDMI from laptop, is that not ok?

While the HDMI (2.0) spec actually allows for up to 32 channels of audio, to my knowledge there are no PC audio Drivers OR AVRs that support more than 8 channels of unencoded data. So to go beyond 8 channels in your setup, the audio must be encoded with something like Atmos, DTS:X or Auro 3D.

There is a way to do this on the fly in windows 10/11 but it is a low level interface and so far only used in games and one (clunky) file player. This is a programing interface for Windows Sonic Spatial Audio, which can then use Atmos as the delivery.

So the short answer is no, your current setup up is not enough to live monitor more than 8 channels.

You could mix, using headphone virtualization, and listen later via atmos, but you would have to do your (lossy) atmos encoding on Amazon (AWS media converter).

There are 4 or 5 headphone virtualization products, at various levels of cost, from free to multi thousands of dollars. Auro 3D, mentioned above, is free. Waves NX is the least expensive one with head tracking (for me the webcam based head tracking works better than the optional hardware tracker), and it goes up in cost from there. Note for Waves NX, to get to "immersive" vs. 7.1, you will have to first encode to 1st order ambisonics. There are free VSTs for that (so say 7.1.4 to 1st order ambisonics).

In general things get much harder when you go beyond 7.1. Besides things we covered so far, no one agrees on channel order in files, channel names, etc.

We also haven't yet talked about things like limiters or other mastering or other FXs, and their support for immersive formats like 7.1.4.

What DAW are you using?
 

jimfisheye

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
2,491
I have all the speakers, subs needed and a windows laptop connected to Atmos/DTX Auro capable receiver.

Would I need to buy mac and Atmos mastering suite then that is it? I am still confused.
You would need the encoder suite to be able to use an Atmos AVR to monitor. The Atmos AVR will be restricted to the encoded Atmos for an input. There would be no way to bypass it over the HDMI input. That's the sticking point there. You're kind of stuck between a sideways hardware move of replacing the HDMI AVR with a more standard audio interface and amps setup or spending on the Dolby encoder suite to use your AVR as is.

FYI, Reaper DAW has a Windows version and I'm told it's the most high functioning DAW app available for Windows. You can start mixing right now on the best DAW in the world!

Getting the output to an AVR with HDMI input that is only wired and programmed to accept encoded Atmos is the bigger roadblock.

The big Atmos joystick/panner/whatnot plugin suite is Protools only and thus Mac only. But you don't have to use any of that to mix as you please into an Atmos speaker array! Continue to use your favorite 3rd party tools.


I don't mean to pointedly avoid any of the more official stuff just to be hip or something. Just trying to take the mystery out and point out standard useful tools. The gaslighting around forcing hardware sales with this decoder buisness is a bit over the top and off putting.
 

zeerround

Moderator
Moderator
QQ Supporter
Joined
Apr 11, 2010
Messages
703
I am not aware that the Dolby Atmos Production Suite has any live atmos over HDMI capability, but I guess I never looked into it as I just use my audio interface (I have both the Atmos and DTS:X suites, I use in Pro Tools Ultimate).

Yeah if you want to use Objects and or deliver Atmos content to others that are going to stream it or otherwise package it for delivery (BluRay, etc.) then yeah the full on Dolby Protudction Suite, on Intel Mac, is what is needed.

However to just make stuff for yourself or friends, you can mix to 10 or more channels (vs. objects) and encode via AWS, as I have mentioned.

As part of trying to build an Hobbyist ecosystem for immersive up-remix (if not full on mix from multi-tracks) I am looking at ways to potentially make the AWS encoding process drag and drop easy. It is already web based by nature, but there are two or three different interfaces to use (S3 storage, Media Converter, Billing) and you need a AWS account so a little techy for Hobbyists.

Feel Free to PM me for examples of what Atmos you get back.
 

jimfisheye

2K Club - QQ Super Nova
Joined
Jan 8, 2010
Messages
2,491
You send Atmos encoded audio stream over HDMI to decoder equipped AVRs. That's the consumer SOP right now. "Live" would just be you working the DAW mixing board with that as your monitor system.

An AVR connected thunderbolt to HDMI can be a fine monitoring solution. The rub here is the lock down on both the encoding and decoding. And the price tag approaches hardware costs.

The encoder would need to let you use it live though. If that isn't possible then this doesn't work. Then you kind of have to get an interface and amps separately. Could still be an AVR with analog inputs for the amps.

You have to spend money on something here. Take inventory and try to find the least offensive path. I think it's that $400 Dolby suite for me but I haven't pulled the trigger yet. Checked to see if the media player has been pirated yet but I haven't seen it. I'm not interested in the lossy stuff or the binaural fold down on headphones for a stop gap.
 
Top