François visited the new Dolby A (Dolby Atmos) facility at London’s Metropolis Studios, set up by Phil Wright. This room for mixing music (or film sound) spatially, comprises an 11.2.8 speaker system which ‘atomises’ up to 128 sound elements, into a 3-dimensional space around the listener. The effect is fantastic and makes it so much easier to hear the separate elements in a music mix.
Sonically, one could bring an audience member onto the stage, so that they feel they are standing among the players. Sound elements can be made to fly with any choreography one wishes. ‘Impossible’ listening environments can also be devised, for example to have a listener sit in the middle of a grand piano, while hearing drums and vocalists fly around them.
Metropolis Studios’ Dolby Atmos Facility
Such systems are great for mixing music that will be performed in an 11.2.8 space, such as appropriately-equipped cinemas. For general public use, e.g. on stereo headphones, new systems are being developed that try to replicate this effect using just two sound sources left and right. Here there is still a way to go.