New Video from John Darko re: Atmos Music

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JediJoker

Audio Engineer/Enthusiast
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I don't follow John Darko's content religiously, and I have my fair share of disagreements with his opinions, but I do find his approach to audiophile review content to be worthwhile. I think his overview of Atmos here is a fairly balanced look at the format as it is seen and experienced by most music lovers.
 

"a guy called Elliot Scheiner" 😃

anyone, who is remotely interested in Atmos should hear this interview (y)

Interesting about the Bowie limitations.

I'm waiting for 'The Completion Backward Principle' to be released in Atmos; hey it's an 80's album! And time to do Atmos for Aja (with some de-mixing for some etc.)
 
"a guy called Elliot Scheiner" 😃

anyone, who is remotely interested in Atmos should hear this interview (y)

Interesting about the Bowie limitations.

I'm waiting for 'The Completion Backward Principle' to be released in Atmos; hey it's an 80's album! And time to do Atmos for Aja (with some de-mixing for some etc.)
Please also go back to the 70s for an album that should have been a quadraphonic showpiece.
 

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Although I agree, as Wilson says, that Progressive Rock and Electronic Music are very appropriate styles to mix in Atmos, due to the multiple layers of sound they usually have, I am of the opinion that Any type of music, of All the Styles, are appropriate for mixing in Spatial Audio (a.k.a. Atmos).

Even a single vocal track with a simple acoustic guitar, for example, can be mixed into Atmos in very different creative ways, adding echoes, reverbs or even word repetitions (à la Us and Them), to go to different speakers. Starting with front stereo and moving the vocals to surrounds or to the ceiling like choruses, while the only guitar sounds in some phrases in front and in others behind. These are just examples, but everything is possible in this Art. The only restrictions are imposed by stereo purists who get "scared" when a sound comes from behind.
 
Even a single vocal track with a simple acoustic guitar, for example, can be mixed into Atmos in very different creative ways, adding echoes, reverbs or even word repetitions (à la Us and Them), to go to different speakers. Starting with front stereo and moving the vocals to surrounds or to the ceiling like choruses, while the only guitar sounds in some phrases in front and in others behind. These are just examples, but everything is possible in this Art. The only restrictions are imposed by stereo purists who get "scared" when a sound comes from behind.
What about when, as is Steven's approach, the goal is to match the creative choices and sound of the (original) stereo mix but expand them into the surround field? If all the stereo mix has is dry vocal and guitar, what's the point of a surround/immersive mix?
 
What about when, as is Steven's approach, the goal is to match the creative choices and sound of the (original) stereo mix but expand them into the surround field?
Then, for me, it is a boring mix, because it differs very litle of the original stereo with some upmixer. For that, we have already the Stereo remixes, that may enhance the sonics and fidelity.

If all the stereo mix has is dry vocal and guitar, what's the point of a surround/immersive mix?
I don't mean that the stereo mix or surround mix has to have dry vocals and guitar. The original recording can be enhanced with whatever sound processing, make different variants or copies of that, and then mix in creative ways. The echos or repetitions that may apper in fronts, rears or wherever do not have to be the original dry recording.
 
Then, for me, it is a boring mix, because it differs very litle of the original stereo with some upmixer. For that, we have already the Stereo remixes, that may enhance the sonics and fidelity.
So, you don't care for Wilson's surround mixes, then? Because they don't differ creatively/production-wise from his stereo mixes, only spatially.

I don't mean that the stereo mix or surround mix has to have dry vocals and guitar. The original recording can be enhanced with whatever sound processing, make different variants or copies of that, and then mix in creative ways. The echos or repetitions that may apper in fronts, rears or wherever do not have to be the original dry recording.
I was just trying to give an extreme example. Call me crazy, but I don't want a "standard" surround mix/remix to be radically different from the stereo mix in terms of production. Adding echoes not originally present is a huge creative change. Now, if you want to classify it as a "remix" in the pop music sense, where creative liberties are expected to be taken, that's a different matter. A great (stereo) example of this class of remix is Steve Winwood's "Valerie." The original 1982 mix from Talking Back To The Night:



Tom Lord-Alge's 1987 remix from the Chronicles compilation:



There's quite a difference in terms of production, but that was Lord-Alge's intention with his remix. When surround mixes or remixes are released alongside stereo mixes, however, it is generally expected that the two mixes will not have major creative differences. This is especially true for classic album remixes, where the sound of the original mixes is deeply ingrained into the minds of fans. This is part of the reason why Tim Weidner's 2002 5.1 remix of Yes' Fragile is not as well liked as Steven Wilson's 2015 5.1 remix: Weidner took too many creative/production liberties and radically altered the sound of the album, whereas Wilson did not, but still created an immersive experience.

You are entitled to your opinion. I just want you to understand why it isn't shared by many.
 
If all the stereo mix has is dry vocal and guitar, what's the point of a surround/immersive mix?
An example of my suggestions for this kind of Atmos mixing can be found in the first part of the song:

06 - THE GREATEST from Billie Eilish 2024 - HIT ME HARD AND SOFT (Atmos) (Available on Apple and Tidal)

It is just the Billie vocals with a subtle acoustic guitar.

It starts at front, just stereo, but there is a different content on Fronts and on Wides, givig a really nice Wide scene. Then the sounds are expanding with echoes and additional vocal echos to the rest of the speakers.

It is not an aggresive or spectacular mix, but it gives a really good Immersive feeling with some subtle discreteness.

I insist that with a single vocal track in mono, original dry recording, creative wonders in Atmos can be done, very immersive and/or very discrete.
 
So, you don't care for Wilson's surround mixes, then? Because they don't differ creatively/production-wise from his stereo mixes, only spatially.
Not exactly. That would be an exageration. I do care Wilson's surround mixes. In fact it was thanks to him I have entered this wonderful hobby.
Sometimes I would prefer some more agresiveness from him, but the sound quality and the very good balancing is well appreciated by me.

You are entitled to your opinion. I just want you to understand why it isn't shared by many.
Ok. I understand that the sounds flying around and ping pong (just to mention an example of mixing) is not for everyone.

I agree with the "respect" for old mixes, because I also have in mind many 70's albums that know by heart. And Steven Wilson makes good, something intermediate, that sounds "like" the original but somehow different for us to like them.

I was referring more to the style of mixing for new productions.

I have shown my installation to two of my brothers-in-law.
One of them was annoyed with multichannel music and requested me to put the AVR in stereo. He has a big stereo in his house and does not want to change.
The other one was amazed by Atmos with things like Yello-Point, and wanted sounds coming from everywere. He has a soundbar in his house, but he does not get such effects, and wants something like mine.

I think the industry has to get a lot of people impressed with good effects, so that this current push that Apple is giving to its Spatial Audio persists. My first brother-in-law is not convinced, while the second is.
 
I thought it was pretty honest of SW to acknowledge that most Atmos mixes would be heard only on headphones/ear buds even though they only provide 50-60% of the experience that multiple speakers can provide. Most people can't afford or even want something like a dedicated home theater for movies, let alone just for music. The expense and intrusiveness of retro fitting a multi-purpose room for Atmos (10 or more speakers and all the wiring) will probably be too much for most people for the foreseeable future. Maybe that will change if the technology ever develops good wireless speakers (receiving both power and lossless audio wirelessly) but I think that's a long way off.

At least so far, a lot of musicians, engineers and record companies see enough value in the spatial audio headphone experience to aggressively expand and promote its use. I intend to enjoy it in my dedicated 7.2.4 home theater room for as long as it lasts.
 
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