Dolby Atmos is Breathing New Life into Iconic Music

by The Definitive Team

Music has the power to transcend time, connecting us to different eras and evoking emotions that remain unchanged over the years. The recent advent of mixing technology has allowed us to breathe new life into classic recordings, and one of the most exciting developments in recent times is the remixing of older albums into Dolby Atmos Surround Sound. This revolutionary audio format immerses listeners in a truly three-dimensional soundscape, creating an unparalleled experience that enhances the beauty and impact of these timeless tunes. In this piece, we will explore the world of Dolby Atmos and how it has transformed the way we perceive and appreciate old music.

What is Atmos?

Dolby Atmos 3D soundstage

Dolby Atmos is an advanced audio technology that provides a stunningly realistic and immersive audio experience. Unlike traditional surround sound systems, which distribute audio across multiple channels, Dolby Atmos introduces the concept of "audio objects" that can be placed and moved in a three-dimensional space. Audio objects are individual sound elements within a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. They can represent various audio components, such as dialogue, music, effects, or ambience. Each object is assigned specific characteristics, including position, movement, size, and acoustic properties. These characteristics are defined using metadata, which accompanies the audio objects throughout the production and playback process.

Fun Fact: In our reference theaters in our showrooms, you can actually watch these audio objects move around the 3D space in real-time on the iPad controller. It's insanely cool.

Dolby Atmos utilizes adaptive rendering to deliver the most immersive audio experience regardless of the playback system. Adaptive rendering analyzes the metadata and adapts the sound mix based on the available speaker configuration. This flexibility enables Dolby Atmos content to be enjoyed on a wide range of setups, from cinema theaters and home theaters to soundbars and headphones. The audio objects are rendered dynamically during playback, adjusting their position and characteristics to fit the available speakers and provide an optimal immersive experience.

Remixing the Classics

All of this offers a remarkable opportunity to revitalize iconic recordings and introduce them to new generations. By harnessing the power of this technology, sound engineers can uncover new layers within the music, enhancing its impact and offering listeners a fresh perspective on familiar tunes. Moreover, the remixing process allows for a balance between preserving the original essence and injecting modern production techniques, resulting in a harmonious blend of old and new.

The process itself involves extracting the individual audio tracks from the original recordings and separating them into audio objects. These audio objects represent different elements of the music, such as vocals, instruments, and effects. Sound engineers then have the freedom to position these audio objects within the three-dimensional sound field, precisely placing them in space to create an immersive audio experience.

Opening Doors for New Audiences

Optimized listening position surrounded by Dolby Atmos speakers

Enjoying iconic albums in modern Dolby Atmos is not only a treat for avid music enthusiasts but also acts as a bridge between generations. Younger listeners, accustomed to modern production techniques and immersive experiences, can discover and appreciate the rich tapestry of musical history through this innovative remixing approach. It helps cultivate a deeper appreciation for the artistry of the past and encourages exploration beyond contemporary genres.

In a recent New York Times piece Oliver Schusser, a vice president at Apple Music, said that Apple now incentivizes record labels to deliver catalog material in Atmos. At Definitive, we've actually had recording engineers stop by our Seattle showroom reference theater (Wilson Chronosic XVX loudspeakers, Dan D'agostino Amplification, Linn & dCS sources) to listen to albums they were mastering to make sure they met Apple Music standards.

The remixing of old music into Dolby Atmos Surround Sound represents a remarkable fusion of tradition and technology. This groundbreaking approach not only enriches our listening experiences but also opens up new avenues for creative expression and cultural preservation. With Dolby Atmos, we can embark on a sonic journey that transcends time, allowing us to rediscover and fall in love with classic music all over again. As this revolutionary audio format continues to evolve, it will undoubtedly shape the way we appreciate music for generations to come.

Here is a list of classic tracks remastered into Atmos we think you should check out.