Dolby Atmos and Amazon Echo Studio present new audio experience

New heights for music

by Andy Bassett

In quick succession, we’ve had announcements from Amazon regarding its new Amazon Music HD service and its new Dolby Atmos compatible Amazon Studio smart speaker. Now Dolby themselves are pushing their Dolby Atmos Music technology. Put all these together and what have you got?

You’ve got all the elements for a new way to listen to music - Dolby Atmos Music creates a 3D surround sound mix of a track, Amazon Music HD can deliver it and the Dolby Atmos compatible Amazon Echo Studio smart speaker can play it in an all-new surround experience, revealing details and nuances not previously heard.

The same Atmos technology that adds height levels to movie soundtracks for overhead effects can also be used to situate a musical element accurately within the sound stage as a discrete item - hence the term Object-Based, which is sometimes used to describe this surround technology.

In a move to demonstrate that its 3D audio technology is not just for movie theatres and home cinemas, Dolby approached Amazon and entered into an agreement to use their newly announced Amazon Music HD service to deliver Dolby Atmos enhanced music.

As Amazon developed their Echo Studio speaker with an ability to fill a room with powerful immersive audio through a compact form factor, Dolby worked with the online retail giant to create a music listening experience, which removes the boundaries of the mono and stereo solutions found in most smart speakers today.

Miriam Daniel, Vice President of Echo and Alexa Devices, Amazon. “Echo Studio is the first smart speaker to deliver a truly immersive audio experience with Dolby Atmos. It allows you to hear objects placed into the three-dimensional space around you—it’s music the way the artist intended you to hear it and we can’t wait for our customers to try it.”

Currently, there’s only around 50 Dolby Atmos releases available, including remixed versions of Hans Zimmer's Live in Prague, Metallica's Through the Never, Mumford & Sons' Dust and Thunder and Roger Waters's The Wall - see the Dolby website for a full list.

However, Dolby is working closely with artists, mixers, producers, and record labels to expand the catalogue of music available in Dolby Atmos. Universal Music Group (UMG) has announced plans to release thousands of new songs, current hits, and legendary tracks in Dolby Atmos from some of the world’s biggest artists such as Bastille, The Beatles, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Luciano Pavarotti, Marvin Gaye, and The Weeknd. This will cover multiple labels across UMG and feature a wide range of genres including hip-hop, pop, rock, country, jazz, and classical music.

No doubt as this process progresses and the library of 3D music in Dolby Atmos Music format increases, it will find its way onto Amazon Music HD service where it can then be enjoyed on an Echo Studio.

Although the end to end convenience of Amazon’s HD streaming service and Studio speaker is a first for Dolby Atmos Music songs, other hardware can be used, and it doesn’t have to involve high end AV receivers and multiple speakers. Music fans keen to experience Dolby Atmos Music tracks can also turn to the increasing number of compatible devices such as the latest iPhone 11s or Samsung Galaxy S10 which are now hitting the market. Listeners can experience 3D music relatively easily before deciding whether a fully fledged multi-speaker 3D audio setup is for them. Clearly, Dolby is perfectly happy for music fans to listen to their 3D tracks using a single speaker (albeit with multiple drivers) otherwise they wouldn’t have entered into such an arrangement with Jeff Bezo’s baby.

Is the prospect of 3D music starting to sound interesting and affordable? Have you sampled any Dolby Atmos music mixes? If so, let others know what the experience was like in the thread.

Source: Press release, www.whathifi.com
Image Source: Dolby
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