After the launch on Amazon Music a few days ago for use on mobile, and the launch in June of Dolby Atmos on Apple. The 3D formats using audio objects are on the front of the market.
Tidal has been offering Dolby Atmos and Deezer 360 Reality Audio for a while now, but it wasn’t until Apple and Amazon announced that these formats would be launched on a large scale.
It must be said that the arrival of a famous band like Pink Floyd in the 360 Reality Audio format (based on Mpeg-h) did not go unnoticed. This was certainly the reason why Amazon made this format available for the release of the album A Momentary Lapse Of Reason.
Today, it is readily available for binaural headphone listening, i.e. reproducing the 3d sound on headphones.
In these formats (Atmos and 360), we are not just defining the sound to be sent to a loudspeaker, as in the 5.1 or 7.1 formats (coded in Dolby, or DTS), the principle is to define a sound object and to place it in space (with its x,y,z coordinates) and also enabling it to move.
There can also be a 7.1.2 track, called Bed, which is completed by the sound objects 3D.
Thus, for the final rendering, we recalculate the distribution of track and objects 3D according to the target system. We use the same initial signal to calculate the reproduction in 5.1.4, 7.1.4, 9.1.6…
We note a.b.c with a the number of horizontal loudspeakers (channels), b the number of LFE channels (dedicated to bass), c the number of loudspeakers (channels) in height.
Or in 2 channels encoded in binaural for a 3D listening with headphones.
For listening on a 7.1.4 speaker system for example, it is not as simple as with headphones. Indeed, it is necessary to have an amplifier accepting the 3D format and a system providing the tracks in this format.
Today, Dolby Atmos is easily found in homecinema amplifiers or preamplifiers, with configurations covering mainly 5.1.2 to 9.1.6.
Concerning the 360 Reality Audio, it arrives timidly on rather high-end devices like Marantz, Denon for example.
But it is not very widespread for the moment.
Concerning the sources, we find Dolby Atmos on Bluray and Bluray 4K supports, for concerts or music like the remix of Let It Be of the Beatles.
Then there is Tidal and Apple, which offers Dolby Atmos output from certain equipment (Apple TV 4K, Nvidia Shield, Fire TV or Android TV…).
These are the most common devices today.
We hope that this will become more widespread…..
In practice, what is the result with headphones?
To begin with, it’s a new type of listening based on a new mix of songs, so it’s necessarily different.
But the first feedbacks give a more precise rendering with a better separation of the instruments, a better dynamic and a more important spatialization of the music.
To see for yourself, you can check out the links to these four tests, which also include samples to compare for yourself:
Concerning the listening on speakers, with a good system in 7.1.4 it is even more spectacular than with the headphones in binaural mode.
We have then a real immersion in a sound half-sphere.
For the moment, the tests are made on the binaural versions for Dolby Atmos and 360 Audio Reality.
But soon, the tests will be enriched with the listening of the Dolby Atmos versions in 7.1.4.