Beatles producer says Spatial Audio album doesn't sound right, plans new mix

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Legendary Beatles producer Giles Martin in an interview this week discussed the advent of Dolby Atmos, the technology on which Apple's Spatial Audio format is built, revealing that he intends to create a new mix of "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" because the current version "doesn't sound quite right."

AirPods Max


Speaking with Rolling Stone, Martin explained that "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band" was among the first albums -- perhaps the first -- to receive a Dolby Atmos mix. While the result sounds "good," it doesn't sound "right" in part because the mix was meant to be a theatrical presentation.

"Sgt. Pepper's,' how it's being presented right now, I'm actually going to change it. It doesn't sound quite right to me. It's out in Apple Music right now. But I'm gonna replace it. It's good. But it's not right," Martin said. "Sgt. Pepper's was, I think, the first album ever mixed in Dolby Atmos. And we did that as a theatrical presentation. I liked the idea of the Beatles being the first to do something. It's cool that they can still be the first to do something. So Sgt. Pepper's is a theatrical mix that's then being converted into a smaller medium. Therefore, it's not quite right."

The mix lacks bass and "a little bit of weight," he added, noting that the Dolby Atmos version of "Abbey Road" is "much better-functioning" because it is sonically closer to the stereo version.

"It's a bit like someone you love for years having a slightly different haircut. And you realize you still love them," Martin said of the new mixes.

Martin also shared insight on Dolby Atmos for headphones, a technology that is incredibly difficult to get right. There has been "exponential growth" in the sector over the past two years, he said, but the technology is still in its infancy. While products like Apple's Spatial Audio is a good experience, it will get better as companies learn how to tweak their products to suit user needs.

"You can hear the difference with spatial audio. It may not always be better, but there's a difference," Martin said. "I think we're learning the tools to provide that difference for people. What's great is that it creates more of a lean-in listening environment where you're paying attention to it, as opposed to just having audio being played into your head to stop you from thinking."

Interestingly, Martin believes that advanced biometric tech like facial recognition, body measurements and in-ear pressure testing will one day be used to customize the listening experience. Perception of Dolby Atmos mixes in headphones is dependent on multiple variables, from head size to bone structure, and new technologies are needed to present recorded music as intended, he explains.

Apple introduced a form of hardware adaptation with the AirPods Pro ear tip fit test, which analyzes an earbud's seal by capturing speaker output with onboard microphones. AirPods Max goes a step further with Dynamic EQ, a system that measures sound signals within the headphone's ear cushions and adjusts sound output in real time.

Martin offers details on producing Dolby Atmos tracks and more in the full interview.

Read on AppleInsider

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 18
    baconstangbaconstang Posts: 783member
    Originally mixed in mono, the later stereo mix wasn't as well received.  

    Maybe quad would be more suited?
    edited July 30
  • Reply 2 of 18
    While Giles is indeed a great producer, I think “legendary Beatles producer” would be more appropriate for his father, Sir George Martin.
    wookie01repressthislorca2770neilmMicDorseybaconstangjony0
  • Reply 3 of 18
    Yes, George Martin is the legendary producer of the Beatles. He signed them to their record contract with EMI and produced their recordings. Giles, George’s son quoted here, has supervised some Beatles reissues. Credit where credit is due.
    wookie01MicDorseybaconstangjony0
  • Reply 4 of 18
    At this point spatial is interesting but it’s hit and miss on each song as to whether I like it or not. Apple Music puts up Spatial rock music on my music front page. Using Air Pods Pro so quality should be potentially good, I’ve listened to a number of them.  Some are a great new sound, some I didn’t care for. 
    That is going up against a song using AAC on the AAPs. To me these sound excellent. Listening quality can only be matched by other true wireless earbuds or an expensive hifi setup (the APPs are cheaper to get the kick ass sound). 
  • Reply 5 of 18
    smsmsmsm Posts: 11member
    Dumping Appleinsider. You have gone totally obnoxious with forced videos. Please delete my account.
    neilmentropys
  • Reply 6 of 18
    At this point spatial is interesting but it’s hit and miss on each song as to whether I like it or not. Apple Music puts up Spatial rock music on my music front page. Using Air Pods Pro so quality should be potentially good, I’ve listened to a number of them.  Some are a great new sound, some I didn’t care for. 
    That is going up against a song using AAC on the AAPs. To me these sound excellent. Listening quality can only be matched by other true wireless earbuds or an expensive hifi setup (the APPs are cheaper to get the kick ass sound). 

    Spatial has nothing to do. It is the source. Spatial reveals the deficiencies 

  • Reply 7 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    I thought the Beatles' lossless, atmos songs were the best of all that I have heard Apple put out.

    I listen to them on my Atmos home theater and just marvel at the difference.  
    Apple put out a comparison between Mono, Stereo and Atmos on a Marvin Gaye song that really illustrated the difference.

    But, the difference between Stereo and Atmos is that Atmos puts you in the middle of the band.  You are there.  You are part of it. 
    You are surrounded by the music.
    So, I do not understand how Atmos can have the same effect wearing headphones or (especially) Airpods.  There are only two sources of sound.

    I so wish that Apple would get into Home Theater / Atmos sound reproduction.   They were headed in the right direction with the HomePod but, for some reason, dropped the ball.   It may be that they simply can't top a high end 5.1 or 7.1 speaker Atmos system.
    Beatsstevenoz
  • Reply 8 of 18
    thedbathedba Posts: 652member
    So far I can’t say that Spatial Audio has impressed me. Of course my only experience with it has been through a pair Beats Studio 3 headphones, that I purchased at a discount last year. 
    Maybe through Apple AirPods Max my opinion will change.

    That being said, HiRes Lossless has impressed me more. Not through the Beats but through a pair of Audio Technica M20X headphones and a very basic DAC purchased through Amazon. Still waiting for my Dragonfly Red DAC to arrive, to see if that will make a difference.
    Beats
  • Reply 9 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    thedba said:
    So far I can’t say that Spatial Audio has impressed me. Of course my only experience with it has been through a pair Beats Studio 3 headphones, that I purchased at a discount last year. 
    Maybe through Apple AirPods Max my opinion will change.

    That being said, HiRes Lossless has impressed me more. Not through the Beats but through a pair of Audio Technica M20X headphones and a very basic DAC purchased through Amazon. Still waiting for my Dragonfly Red DAC to arrive, to see if that will make a difference.

    Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos are not the same.
    It seems to me like comparing Dolby Atmos (7.1 surround speakers) with Spatial Audio on headphones (2 speakers) is like comparing stereo (2 speakers) to mono (1 speaker).
  • Reply 10 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,196member
    I thought the Beatles' lossless, atmos songs were the best of all that I have heard Apple put out.

    I listen to them on my Atmos home theater and just marvel at the difference.  
    Apple put out a comparison between Mono, Stereo and Atmos on a Marvin Gaye song that really illustrated the difference.

    But, the difference between Stereo and Atmos is that Atmos puts you in the middle of the band.  You are there.  You are part of it. 
    You are surrounded by the music.
    So, I do not understand how Atmos can have the same effect wearing headphones or (especially) Airpods.  There are only two sources of sound.

    I so wish that Apple would get into Home Theater / Atmos sound reproduction.   They were headed in the right direction with the HomePod but, for some reason, dropped the ball.   It may be that they simply can't top a high end 5.1 or 7.1 speaker Atmos system.
    You only have two ears, so how do you hear directional sound in real life? How do you hear surround sound played back by your Atmos home theater? You may have seven (or more) speakers, but you still only have two ears.

    The answer is binaural audio. Your brain processes sound picked up by your two ears, noting fraction-of-a-second delays of sound picked up from one ear to the other, noting the acoustical shadow of your own head, and noting the echoes and other acoustics of the space around you.  Straight-ahead binaural recordings have been around for decades, (over a century, actually) and are made by placing microphones inside the ears of a mannequin head. A two-channel recoding is made, one channel per ear. Played back directly into your own ears via headphones or ear buds, that recording will have all the micro-second delays from one side to the other, along with the acoustical shadow of the mannequin head and the acoustics of the room where the recording was made. In that playback, you will be able to identify in three-dimensions which direction sounds are coming from. (The same playback through stereo speakers will just sound odd, with phase distortions and other artifacts, because the sound that was supposed to be directly at your ears is now coming from speakers facing forward and feet apart.)

    Spatial audio played back in your home theater sends directional sound out of the various speakers arrayed around you, and your brain interprets the directional information the same way it does sounds coming from real objects in the world around you.

    Spatial audio played back in your headphones or earbuds takes that same directional information used to send sound to surround speakers and then calculates the micro delays from one ear to the other, the acoustical shadow of your head and the acoustics of the room around you in order to create on the fly a binaural output to your headphones or earbuds that will be perceived as three-dimensional directional sound. That’s how spatial audio is generated for headphones or ear buds with only “two sources of sound.”
    elijahgJaphey
  • Reply 11 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    I just listened to both and I totally agree -- while Abbey Road sounds full and rich Sargent Pepper is lacking.  I liked how he phrased it:

    "The mix lacks bass and "a little bit of weight,""

    The mix is definitely lacking in bass -- you can hear the bass notes but they are very muffled.
    The Dolby Atmos surround is good -- but even though I played it on some high end speakers it sounded like it was coming from much smaller, cheaper speakers.  It reminded me of the the dashboard speakers they used to put in the cars that I first heard this song on.

    A remix would be good.
  • Reply 12 of 18
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,045member
    smsm said:
    Dumping Appleinsider. You have gone totally obnoxious with forced videos. Please delete my account.
    I'm close to doing the same, and am glad somebody mentioned it. AI isn't the only site to adopt this really annoying practice, they're just jumping on the bad wagon. I wish there were a browser setting that could turn that off. It's really annoying and tedious.
    GeorgeBMacentropys
  • Reply 13 of 18
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,045member
    I was very disappointed in Apple's implementation of Atmos. Everything I've listened to has less presence and bass. I am by no means into excessive bass, not even when I was a kid. But bass and presence that should be there but that has gone MIA is really disappointing.

    Maybe it's not their mix and not their fault. No matter, it's not at all pleasant in headphones. Maybe on a dedicated Atmos system, it does. Different isn't necessarily better, and in my observation and preferences, definitely not as good.

    And how many iterations of Beatles albums are we going to see? Early Beatles albums were all mono (some kiddies may not even know that means) and subsequent stereo "mixes" weren't really mixes at all, having music in one channel and the vocals in the right. But I don't remember that being the case with Sgt. Pepper

    Over the years, stereo had generally proven to a better listening experience than mono. I remember tuning in two AM radios to different stations for a simulcast that simulated a stereo broadcast. And enduring special effects LPs that demoed stereo via exaggerated sound effect. But it's grown up and properly done, thrills me.

    Maybe one day I'll experience a dedicated 7.1/9.1 system and blow my retirement fund. But I won't be doing Atmos with Apple's (or anybody's headphones).

    And "spatial audio"? At this point, and possibly solely due to ignorance on my part, I don't see any value in it. "I turn my head and I still 'hear' sound as though it's coming from 'over there'". That's a genuine WTF moment for me. In hunter/gatherer mode, we need to know what directions what sounds are coming is important.

    With dedicated speakers, maybe we can pan across a sound stage, for whatever reason. I don't as yet see a value in that, at least in headphones. And I have the same sonic complaints with SA as I do with Atmos. So I'm still hoping to be impressed. I just don't know how to make that happen. Those to features were my rationalization to get the AirPods Pro Max. That ship is sailing.
    GeorgeBMacelijahg
  • Reply 14 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    macgui said:
    I was very disappointed in Apple's implementation of Atmos. Everything I've listened to has less presence and bass. I am by no means into excessive bass, not even when I was a kid. But bass and presence that should be there but that has gone MIA is really disappointing.

    Maybe it's not their mix and not their fault. No matter, it's not at all pleasant in headphones. Maybe on a dedicated Atmos system, it does. Different isn't necessarily better, and in my observation and preferences, definitely not as good.

    And how many iterations of Beatles albums are we going to see? Early Beatles albums were all mono (some kiddies may not even know that means) and subsequent stereo "mixes" weren't really mixes at all, having music in one channel and the vocals in the right. But I don't remember that being the case with Sgt. Pepper

    Over the years, stereo had generally proven to a better listening experience than mono. I remember tuning in two AM radios to different stations for a simulcast that simulated a stereo broadcast. And enduring special effects LPs that demoed stereo via exaggerated sound effect. But it's grown up and properly done, thrills me.

    Maybe one day I'll experience a dedicated 7.1/9.1 system and blow my retirement fund. But I won't be doing Atmos with Apple's (or anybody's headphones).

    And "spatial audio"? At this point, and possibly solely due to ignorance on my part, I don't see any value in it. "I turn my head and I still 'hear' sound as though it's coming from 'over there'". That's a genuine WTF moment for me. In hunter/gatherer mode, we need to know what directions what sounds are coming is important.

    With dedicated speakers, maybe we can pan across a sound stage, for whatever reason. I don't as yet see a value in that, at least in headphones. And I have the same sonic complaints with SA as I do with Atmos. So I'm still hoping to be impressed. I just don't know how to make that happen. Those to features were my rationalization to get the AirPods Pro Max. That ship is sailing.

    The major benefit of Atmos seems to be in movies -- where you seem to be in the middle of the battle.  Or you can hear the plane fly over your head.
    With Atmos playing music it's similar -- like you're in the middle of the band.   Having played in bands and orchestras through college, that's familiar to me and feels good.   But I suspect that, for most most people, it may feel a little artificial having parts of the music come from behind you.  The original Dolby was, in a way, more realistic where it tended to produce echos from the rear -- like you were in an auditorium.

    But for me, it really adds to the music:  the first time I heard Apple's lossless, Atmos music I was blown away on a high end system.   I had things to do that day but instead just kept listening and listening.

    (By the way, I've started saving money by buying used components on EBay -- but you really need to know what you're doing.  I just got a Yamaha subwoofer for $225 -- a new, current model would have been $500)
  • Reply 15 of 18
    entropysentropys Posts: 3,109member
    I think Atmos in songs is a one upmanship feature. Great for movies, I am not sure it is suitable for music much of the time.

    anyway, the biggest problem I have is that a lot of my redownloaded songs (It is a work phone so can’t really use data on the mobile service for private use) they stop playing. Right on 15 seconds in. A very bad bug.
    elijahg
  • Reply 16 of 18
    AppleZuluAppleZulu Posts: 1,196member
    macgui said:
    I was very disappointed in Apple's implementation of Atmos. Everything I've listened to has less presence and bass. I am by no means into excessive bass, not even when I was a kid. But bass and presence that should be there but that has gone MIA is really disappointing.

    Maybe it's not their mix and not their fault. No matter, it's not at all pleasant in headphones. Maybe on a dedicated Atmos system, it does. Different isn't necessarily better, and in my observation and preferences, definitely not as good.

    And how many iterations of Beatles albums are we going to see? Early Beatles albums were all mono (some kiddies may not even know that means) and subsequent stereo "mixes" weren't really mixes at all, having music in one channel and the vocals in the right. But I don't remember that being the case with Sgt. Pepper

    Over the years, stereo had generally proven to a better listening experience than mono. I remember tuning in two AM radios to different stations for a simulcast that simulated a stereo broadcast. And enduring special effects LPs that demoed stereo via exaggerated sound effect. But it's grown up and properly done, thrills me.

    Maybe one day I'll experience a dedicated 7.1/9.1 system and blow my retirement fund. But I won't be doing Atmos with Apple's (or anybody's headphones).

    And "spatial audio"? At this point, and possibly solely due to ignorance on my part, I don't see any value in it. "I turn my head and I still 'hear' sound as though it's coming from 'over there'". That's a genuine WTF moment for me. In hunter/gatherer mode, we need to know what directions what sounds are coming is important.

    With dedicated speakers, maybe we can pan across a sound stage, for whatever reason. I don't as yet see a value in that, at least in headphones. And I have the same sonic complaints with SA as I do with Atmos. So I'm still hoping to be impressed. I just don't know how to make that happen. Those to features were my rationalization to get the AirPods Pro Max. That ship is sailing.
    It depends on the mix. Some put the voices or instruments all around you. Others, particularly for classical or jazz recordings, it’s more subtle and puts you in the room or the concert hall, with the acoustics of those spaces replicated in your listening room or in your headphones/earbuds. If you don’t want it, you don’t have to listen to it. Undoubtedly back in the 60s, some didn’t see the point of stereo. 

    Others of us have been waiting for Atmos to finally come around to streaming music with new content regularly being added, and we’re quite pleased to have it. 
    GeorgeBMac
  • Reply 17 of 18
    GeorgeBMacGeorgeBMac Posts: 10,270member
    AppleZulu said:
    macgui said:
    I was very disappointed in Apple's implementation of Atmos. Everything I've listened to has less presence and bass. I am by no means into excessive bass, not even when I was a kid. But bass and presence that should be there but that has gone MIA is really disappointing.

    Maybe it's not their mix and not their fault. No matter, it's not at all pleasant in headphones. Maybe on a dedicated Atmos system, it does. Different isn't necessarily better, and in my observation and preferences, definitely not as good.

    And how many iterations of Beatles albums are we going to see? Early Beatles albums were all mono (some kiddies may not even know that means) and subsequent stereo "mixes" weren't really mixes at all, having music in one channel and the vocals in the right. But I don't remember that being the case with Sgt. Pepper

    Over the years, stereo had generally proven to a better listening experience than mono. I remember tuning in two AM radios to different stations for a simulcast that simulated a stereo broadcast. And enduring special effects LPs that demoed stereo via exaggerated sound effect. But it's grown up and properly done, thrills me.

    Maybe one day I'll experience a dedicated 7.1/9.1 system and blow my retirement fund. But I won't be doing Atmos with Apple's (or anybody's headphones).

    And "spatial audio"? At this point, and possibly solely due to ignorance on my part, I don't see any value in it. "I turn my head and I still 'hear' sound as though it's coming from 'over there'". That's a genuine WTF moment for me. In hunter/gatherer mode, we need to know what directions what sounds are coming is important.

    With dedicated speakers, maybe we can pan across a sound stage, for whatever reason. I don't as yet see a value in that, at least in headphones. And I have the same sonic complaints with SA as I do with Atmos. So I'm still hoping to be impressed. I just don't know how to make that happen. Those to features were my rationalization to get the AirPods Pro Max. That ship is sailing.
    It depends on the mix. Some put the voices or instruments all around you. Others, particularly for classical or jazz recordings, it’s more subtle and puts you in the room or the concert hall, with the acoustics of t
    hose spaces replicated in your listening room or in your headphones/earbuds. If you don’t want it, you don’t have to listen to it. Undoubtedly back in the 60s, some didn’t see the point of stereo. 

    Others of us have been waiting for Atmos to finally come around to streaming music with new content regularly being added, and we’re quite pleased to have it. 

    Next up:   Car stereo systems with Dolby Atmos.  It's where most music gets listened to -- has been since before I was born.
  • Reply 18 of 18
    elijahgelijahg Posts: 2,315member
    entropys said:
    I think Atmos in songs is a one upmanship feature. Great for movies, I am not sure it is suitable for music much of the time.

    anyway, the biggest problem I have is that a lot of my redownloaded songs (It is a work phone so can’t really use data on the mobile service for private use) they stop playing. Right on 15 seconds in. A very bad bug.
    I've had a number of lossless and/or atmos songs apparently get corrupted. It'll be playing through my Airpods and then all of a sudden there's a horrible electronic screeching and buzzing noise at apparently max volume. I hit the Airpods out my ears the first time it happened it was so fucking loud. That has happened a few times now and so I have switched off Atmos, and it's never happened again. Wasn't really too keen on it anyway. Too many of the remixes were poor and ended up missing bass and the vocals were either too loud or so quiet you could barely hear them. Too often it just sounded off. For me, it's quite a stretch to make claims that it's as revolutionary as stereo was. 
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