Spatial Audio as an Expanded Toolbox for Musical Artists

I’ve been trying more music with Spatial Audio and staying tuned in to how others are receiving it across the internet. While some people are smitten, others think it’s a passing gimmick. Matt Birchler at Birchtree, for instance, doesn’t think it’ll take off in the long term:

I’m hopeful that surround sound AKA Dolby Atmos AKA Spatial Audio results in some truly unique and delightful musical experiences that I’ve never had before, but the more time goes by, the more I feel like this has real big 3D movie energy”.

I have to disagree with Matt here. Sure, trying to remix every older track probably won’t result in a better product, but I think the more exciting way to think about Spatial Audio is how artists will approach their new work with it.

It feels to me like giving artists more dimensional space to play with is a natural progression for audio. When done well, it’s uncanny just how much the music sounds like you’re in a physical space with the band. I imagine that many artists work really hard to make their recorded music sound as close to the live performance as possible. Spatial Audio is an additional tool to help them do just that.

Although it may already be overused, I think the SD to HD/4K transition is a more apt comparison than 3D movies. It, too, was a natural progression of technology, and creators now default to it. Everyone watches HD video, and it would be weird if something new came out that was of lesser quality. But older video isn’t criticized for not being redone in HD, just as I don’t think it’s necessary to go back and redo the entire catalog for the sake of completeness. Only if the artist thinks their older work would be enhanced with Spatial Audio do I think it should be redone. But I think, and I hope, that Spatial Audio will be become the default.


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