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    The Computer Audiophile

    My Journey Into Atmos / Multichannel Music Has Begun

     


    When Atmos music first came to my attention I assumed it was just a fad that would fade away like the previous multichannel music formats. I also voiced my displeasure for many of the early Atmos mixes because they were either cartoonish or so different the the mixing engineer was now the artist.

     

    Fortunately, things are looking very bright for the future of Atmos music. The word on the street from professionals working in the music industry is that Atmos is real, many mixes are being created by the best people in the business, with artist involvement, and its benefits are really starting to shine. 

     

    Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and Tidal all offer Dolby Atmos Music. In addition to the streaming services, it's possible to go old school and rip the Atmos content from a Blu-ray Disc. I think the time is right to jump in with both feet. 

     

    My research into what it takes to put together a very high quality Atmos system for music, and what it takes to get the highest quality Atmos content into this audio system, has begun in earnest. 

     

    The journey so far reminds me of the early days of computer audio. There are many people who've been playing Atmos for years and taking about how they do it, but the information is scattered everywhere and bit and pieces are missing. There are also many multichannel formats including lossy and lossless Atmos. Sound familiar to two channel? 

     

    Atmos music playback is really the Wild West. How about just getting an Apple TV and using the Apple Music or Tidal apps? That's a great start, but both of those services offer lossy Atmos streaming in the Atmos Dolby Digital Plus format. It isn't a showstopper, but it could be better. How about using the Tidal or Amazon Music apps on a desktop to playback Atmos? Nope, can't be done. Amazon has limited its Atmos playback to very few devices, including its Echo Studio speaker, or a mobile device. What about ripping the lossless Dolby Atmos TrueHD version from a Blu-ray Disc and playing that? OK, we are getting somewhere. Oh wait, the ripped content requires an HDMI output to take full advantage of the height channels of Dolby Atmos, even though the streamed lossy Atmos from Apple Music doesn't require an HDMI output. But. note that Apple Music's Atmos setting must be set to "Automatic", not "Always On" for it to work (thanks to @El Guapo for that one).  This is only the beginning. 

     

    Anyway, I'm working on putting together a 7.1.4 Atmos system in my listening room, and I hope everyone will join me on this journey. Some will be passive bystanders, others will be interested in how it all plays out and possibly doing this themselves, and some will have much more information to offer than me. Input from the many multichannel experts in our wonderful community is always appreciated.

     

    Last but not least, I remain a diehard, knuckle-dragging, card carrying, two channel audiophile. My Wilson Audio Alexias, Constellation Audio components, and top of the line DACs aren't going anywhere. This journey is all about enjoying music, in whatever form, at the highest level possible. 

     

     




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    https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=358188&pid=3042702#pid3042702

    Quote

    There's 2 types of Atmos, the type that generally comes from streaming apps uses DD+ and the type found on Blu-ray/UHD discs uses TrueHD. The Firestick only supports Atmos over DD+ I think unless you can find a spec that says it supports TrueHD. Kodi I think only supports Atmos over TrueHD.

     

    How do we know what we're getting, lossy DD+ or lossless TrueHD?

     


     

    There's an existing thread with over 4,000 posts and one of them included some files for testing purposes

     

    https://www.head-fi.org/threads/the-nameless-guide-to-pc-gaming-audio-with-binaural-headphone-surround-sound.593050/page-268#post-15079290

     

    And then there's also this app from Microsoft

     

    https://kb.dolby.com/access

    https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/p/dolby-access/9n0866fs04w8

    https://www.headphonesty.com/2021/08/dolby-atmos-for-headphones/

     

    Cyberlink PowerDVD 20 or above might also be yet another viable alternative

     

    https://forum.cyberlink.com/forum/posts/list/82629.page

    https://www.cyberlink.com/products/powerdvd-ultra/features_en_US.html

     

    I guess that TIDAL might be a pretty good place to start, if we're able to understand what I meant to say

     

    https://www.google.com/search?q="orpheus.py"

     

    Then we could try playing those files with PowerDVD etc.

     


     

    Here's how we could get KODI to work with that

     

    https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=338761

    https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=356360

     

    Further details below

     

    https://hydrogenaud.io/index.php?topic=121076.msg998535#msg998535

    https://forum.kodi.tv/showthread.php?tid=366474&pid=3080505#pid3080505

     


     

    Headphones might be "good enough" for those of us who aren't ready to get so many speakers installed

     

    https://www.us.jvc.com/headphones/home_theater_solutions/xp_ext1/

    https://www.avsforum.com/threads/jvc-xp-ext1-finally-a-wireless-headphone-system-with-atmos-and-dts-x.3134524/

     


     

    BTW, there's also something else from Sony while the concept seemed to be quite different to me

     

    https://electronics.sony.com/360-reality-audio

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    Not to knock figuring out Atmos MCH, but it is easier to get MCH DSD and FLAC working!  You should try that out as well!  There’s some great material to hear. JCR 

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    7 minutes ago, jrobbins50 said:

    Not to knock figuring out Atmos MCH, but it is easier to get MCH DSD and FLAC working!  You should try that out as well!  There’s some great material to hear. JCR 

    Absolutely!

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    7 minutes ago, botrytis said:

    Chris needs to get two Thor's Hammers to go with his Alexa's.

    If I had room and money 😁

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    25 minutes ago, botrytis said:

    Although his floor may collapse 🤣

    The house was built in 1941 and the flooring is like iron wood 🙂

     

    Bring on the subs 🙂

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    8 hours ago, seeteeyou said:

    How do we know what we're getting, lossy DD+ or lossless TrueHD?

    If comes on a disc... It's usually Dolby TrueHD with Dolby Atmos (lossless)... Streaming platforms are usually Dolby Digital Plus with Dolby Atmos (lossy)

     

    ...but if you are uncertain, you can always check Mediainfo.

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    Can I hope for a Theta Casablanca will be used for this setup ?

     

    Can you reveal what SSP you will be using ?

     

    I assume you will choose a SSP that have room correction built in ?

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    I guess what you will do. Use your existing Anubis in a very creative way with dual VanityPRO. Probably using Sonictransporter with HMDI out as source. (New feature from Sonore). Roon will have the room correction implement, so you don’t need SSP SW with RC implemented. 
     

    https://www.merging.com/products/pyramix/key-features

     

    If I’m right, this will be very interesting.

     

    And it’s a much cheaper solution that those expensive SSP’s available from Theta and Trinnov. 
    Still it will not be considered as cheap. (5K?) Plus amps and DAC’s.

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    5 hours ago, R1200CL said:

    Can I hope for a Theta Casablanca will be used for this setup ?

     

    Can you reveal what SSP you will be using ?

     

    I assume you will choose a SSP that have room correction built in ?

     

    2 hours ago, R1200CL said:

    I guess what you will do. Use your existing Anubis in a very creative way with dual VanityPRO. Probably using Sonictransporter with HMDI out as source. (New feature from Sonore). Roon will have the room correction implement, so you don’t need SSP SW with RC implemented. 
     

    https://www.merging.com/products/pyramix/key-features

     

    If I’m right, this will be very interesting.

     

    And it’s a much cheaper solution that those expensive SSP’s available from Theta and Trinnov. 
    Still it will not be considered as cheap. (5K?) Plus amps and DAC’s.


    All options are on the table, including multiple options. I’m in the research phase and appreciate all the input from you guys.  

     

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    14 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    The house was built in 1941 and the flooring is like iron wood 🙂

     

    Bring on the subs 🙂

     

    Or you can use 2- YG InVincible subs 😁

     

    1883347354_YGInVincible(2).thumb.jpg.75d60db2b3d8e7559660b573d8b5565f.jpg

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    31 minutes ago, botrytis said:

     

    Or you can use 2- YG InVincible subs 😁

     

    1883347354_YGInVincible(2).thumb.jpg.75d60db2b3d8e7559660b573d8b5565f.jpg

    I saw those in person at the Munich show. Crazy stuff!

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    16 hours ago, The Computer Audiophile said:

    If I had room and money 😁

    Alas, this is the fundamental problem--when we divide our budget over 12 speakers instead of 2 or 3, then add additional amplification and cables; it becomes extraordinarily difficult for the multichannel system to compete on sound quality--regardless of whether our budget is $10K or $100K.  I suppose we'd be good at $1MM...

     

    In a funny way, this is the opposite of your dive into the RAALs.  How is it possible for headphones to compete on sonics with speakers that cost 10-20X their price?  One reason is that we are buying much less hardware with the cans.

     

    Nevertheless, I look forward to your report!

     

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    1 minute ago, PeterG said:

    Alas, this is the fundamental problem--when we divide our budget over 12 speakers instead of 2 or 3, then add additional amplification and cables; it becomes extraordinarily difficult for the multichannel system to compete on sound quality--regardless of whether our budget is $10K or $100K.  I suppose we'd be good at $1MM...

     

    In a funny way, this is the opposite of your dive into the RAALs.  How is it possible for headphones to compete on sonics with speakers that cost 10-20X their price?  One reason is that we are buying much less hardware with the cans.

     

    Nevertheless, I look forward to your report!

     

    I hear you.
     

    It’s going to be a fun journey. 

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    Listening to Apple Music on AirPod Pro and AirPod Max is a start.  I have a simple Sonos surround system in my family room.  Sound Bar, Sub, two Play1's as rears.  That is my taste-test.  Is it as adicting as Diet Coke?

     

    I have setup a Dali Sound Hub and a pair of their wireless Calisto 2c speakers in the Living Room.  Dali has center and other powered - wireless speakers that may also lead down this path.  From my understanding they are exhibiting it all at AXPONA.   I hope to spend some quality time there.

     

    This all might be scaleable in the cost realm.  

     

     

     

    Bob

     

    oh, Now we need screens on all the walls of the room with video.

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    35 minutes ago, bobfa said:

    Listening to Apple Music on AirPod Pro and AirPod Max is a start.  I have a simple Sonos surround system in my family room.  Sound Bar, Sub, two Play1's as rears.  That is my taste-test.  Is it as adicting as Diet Coke?

     

    I have setup a Dali Sound Hub and a pair of their wireless Calisto 2c speakers in the Living Room.  Dali has center and other powered - wireless speakers that may also lead down this path.  From my understanding they are exhibiting it all at AXPONA.   I hope to spend some quality time there.

     

    This all might be scaleable in the cost realm.  

     

     

     

    Bob

     

    oh, Now we need screens on all the walls of the room with video.

    Good stuff Bob. Would love to know more about this path as well. We may need to compare notes / articles 🙂

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    On 2/26/2022 at 11:59 AM, The Computer Audiophile said:

    I hear you.
     

    It’s going to be a fun journey. 

    OK, now that I've pooh poohed this effort, can I put in a request to get your thoughts on the surround version of Giles Martin's remix of Sgt Pepper? 😉

     

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    1 hour ago, PeterG said:

    OK, now that I've pooh poohed this effort, can I put in a request to get your thoughts on the surround version of Giles Martin's remix of Sgt Pepper? 😉

     

    Absolutely!

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    Awesome project @The Computer Audiophile!

     

    I'm sure you'll have tons of fun. Make sure to enjoy the myriad multichannel 5.1 and 7.1 content out there already even if not Atmos-encoded.

     

    I don't think I would use the word "fad" for multichannel even though in the audio world they're not as common. They definitely bring valuable extra dimensions to the sonic experience. It's just that to do it reasonably well has always been much less practical (dedicated sound / theater room needed) than just having a 2 channel amp and 2 speakers. I think most music lovers and audiophiles simply didn't want the hassle nor appreciate a cluttered room.

     

    The practicality factor will remain an issue for many especially those who live in smaller homes and apartments. As such, it's probably a given than penetration of >2.1 speaker arrangements will remain low.

     

    I hope Atmos streaming, mainly targeting headphone users as per Apple Music + Spatial Audio creates enough demand for even more multichannel mixes so that those of us who do have discrete multichannel setups can benefit!

     

    Looking forward to what you come up with. The limitations with streaming services and playback device compatibility will require some time to resolve, I suspect.

     

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    5 hours ago, firedog said:

    Wish I had the room to do this.

     

    I wish I had the money to do it. That includes the room.

     

    I did at one point, setup a surround music system, a trial for DVD-A music. That really told me there were good and bad surround LP's. I only have about 20 DVD-A's (most bought used or on closeout). I will wait this time...

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