What is Dolby Atmos? - how to listen and create in this revolutionary immersive audio format.

Dolby Atmos* is an immersive audio format that is becoming one of the most popular and exciting ways to listen to music and audio. In this article, you will learn what exactly Dolby Atmos is, how it works, and how our spatializer and monitoring plugins can support you best in creating mixes in this revolutionary format.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is a state-of-the-art immersive audio format created by Dolby Laboratories. Based on objects and channels, this format places sound around a three-dimensional space by using 64 speakers to reproduce 10 ‘bed’ channels and 128 different objects. No matter where you are experiencing the audio (films, tv, games, or music) Atmos enables creators to place sounds anywhere around their audience in a 3D space. 

If you’re wondering if Dolby atmos is good for music, get a taste of it with the Atmos Visualizer and judge for yourself Switch between the standard stereo and the immersive Dolby Atmos mode. The differences should get immediately clear. Words only do so much justice, test it with your own ears!

What does Dolby Atmos sound?

Dolby Atmos enriches your favorite media, whether you're playing a game, viewing a movie, or listening to a new song over and over again. The groundbreaking spatial sound experience immerses you deeper into the media, allowing you to hear and feel in more detail than ever before. It makes you feel like you are in the sound, rather than just listening to it. 

Dolby Atmos creates…

- A multidimensional listening experience
- A gateway for the audience to step into the soundstage
- Uncompromising audio immersion from the cinema to the home 

How does Dolby Atmos work?

Dolby Atmos improves the capabilities of conventional surround sound systems by adding height channels, which makes it possible for sounds to be understood as three-dimensional objects. Several other consumer technologies that make use of in-ceiling and up-firing speakers have been introduced under the Atmos moniker since the first introduction of Atmos to the cinema industry.

Unlike traditional stereo (and even surround) Dolby Atmos provides the ability to create fully enveloping 360 audio scenes that give the perception of sound coming from above and below, as well as anywhere around the listener. This creates the similar experience to the real-life listening experience.

What do you need to listen to Dolby Atmos audio?

To enjoy Atmos audio, you need two components. A source for the audio (such as a streaming service or file) and listening hardware (speakers or headphones). 

As far as hardware is concerned, in order to get the whole Dolby Atmos experience, for the best perception you need either above speakers or a device that can project sound upwards and downwards to the room, like Sennheiser’s AMBEO Soundbar. In doing so, the reduced speaker technologies use advanced signal processing to give your music a sense of height.

That being said, headphones are the best alternative to using a complex, expensive multi-speaker setup. These provide the best experience for Dolby Atmos on a more limited budget with the added benefit of portability. 

Dolby Atmos is only one specific variant of the various spatial audio formats (besides Auro 3D, Apple’s* Spatial Audio Format or the new AMBEO 2 Channel Stereo Format. For headphones, spatialized audio playback is based on the binaural audio format, whose development started as early as 1925. For the playback on headphones, the Dolby Atmos signal is translated to binaural audio in a certain way.

Where is Dolby Atmos used?

Dolby Atmos is becoming more and more accessible for creators and consumers. Atmos is widely used in movie theaters, however, it’s becoming even more central to other media, such as music, home entertainment, gaming, and more.

Due to the commercial implementation of Atmos audio, it is slowly becoming a dominant format in the industry. Therefore, learning how to use it now is one of the best opportunities for creators. 

Additionally, because it works on headphones too and has implementations for computers, mobile phones, and game consoles you don’t need a full surround rig to experience Dolby Atmos. 

Dolby Atmos for Content Creators

In comparison to standard stereo audio production, the only extra tools you need to create in Dolby Atmos are some Atmos rendering and mixing tools. 

Here is an outline of the basic Atmos workflow:

- Enable Atmos spatial audio in your DAW.
- Create sound beds - the background audio environments.
- Create sound objects - movable source points for sounds. 
- Automate and animate the objects within the scene, and sequence the audio beds. 
- Check the mixdown. 
- Render to an Atmos deliverable file.

Improving Dolby Atmos mixes in Logic Pro with dearVR PRO & MONITOR

How Dear Reality's plugins dearVR PRO 2 and dearVR MONITOR help you to improve your workflows when mixing and monitoring your production in Logic without the access of a Dolby Atmos setup.

Improving Dolby Atmos mixes in Logic Pro with dearVR PRO & MONITOR

As spatial audio specialists, we at Dear Reality are incredibly passionate about the Atmos technology. This passion has helped us to identify some of the challenges when working with the format, for which we created several solutions.

dearVR MONITOR - Spatial mixing and mastering multi-tool

While anybody can technically create for the format, it can be very hard to mix accurately for the acoustic space, unless you had access to a Dolby Atmos mixing room. Our dearVR MONITOR tool changes that by enabing users to get the best perception of their sound in space when projected from an Atmos-compatible surround rig.

The plugin provides a cutting-edge virtual mix room, which makes mixing on headphones just as powerful as mixing on a full loudspeaker setup. dearVR MONITOR accelerates headphone monitoring workflows and simulates a broad range of acoustic environments and speaker setups, so you can guarantee that your mix will translate perfectly wherever it gets played.

dearVR PRO - Audio spatialization powerhouse

The native spatialization controls for Atmos tools aren't always intuitive and can come with further coloration issues. Our dearVR MUSIC and PRO 2 plugins give creators a new level of freedom when producing and mixing for the Atmos format.

dearVR PRO 2 gives users the ability to create 360° audio and binaural sound in an easy-to-use, multi-channel enabled DAW plugin. The tool enables you to place sounds in a 3D space with a super-easy workflow, and it provides additional processing for reflections and virtual acoustics to enhance immersive sound experiences with even more realism. 

Start creating spatial audio now

Creating in the Atmos format opens up new levels of depth for immersive sound experiences. At the same time, learning to work with these tools will open doors to your creative technique and career opportunities. 

Our tools dearVR PRO, MUSIC and MONITOR, make working with spatial audio easier and more powerful than ever before!

Janis Käune
Janis is specialized in recording classical orchestras, crossover ensembles, and 3D audio projects. Finishing his sound engineering degree at the Robert Schumann Hochschule, he is responsible for running and maintaining the spatial audio studio for classical music. At Dear Reality, Janis works in the Quality Assurance and Support team.
DOLBY ATMOS is a trademark of Dolby Laboratories Licensing Corporation., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions. Cubase and Nuendo are trademarks of Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH. Apple and Logic are trademarks of Apple Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries and regions.

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