It seems quite often that I find myself writing about Avenged Sevenfold singer M. Shadows and his seemingly endless nuggets of knowledge. Shadows tweeted last week “To me Dolby Atmos sounds objectively worse than a stereo mix,” speaking about the surround sound technology that many DSPs—such as Apple Music and Tidal—have adopted as their default audio settings.
“Let’s get to the bottom of Dolby Atmos,” Shadows wrote. “I have heard there is pressure from DSPs to mix all new albums in this format if you want top placement on their platforms, though I cannot confirm this yet. To me Dolby Atmos sounds objectively worse than a stereo mix.
“The vocal is constantly muddied or non existent due to the fact that instruments are coming at you from all angles. When listening in regular headphones (which 99% of people are) it sounds like a washy mess to me.
“This may be ok if it was an option to turn on, but currently it is the default on Apple Music and you actually have to turn it off if you are so inclined. The problem w this is no one knows what Dolby Atmos is so they throw on a new album and think that’s the original mix.
“I believe artists like us have mostly written songs with stereo in mind (left guitar, right guitar, simple panning for effect) and what happens w Atmos is we are trying to spread out instruments into places they were never written for.
“As time goes on I’m sure younger artists will write songs with this new technology in mind… but for me right now… Dolby fucks up a good mix in standard headphones. Thoughts?”
Well, since he asked for our thoughts: Shadows has a slight point. But, it ultimately depends on what you’re listening to and what kind of headphones you’re using. Jazz and ambient music in particular sound incredible in Dolby Atmos, if you ask me (have a listen to the last Jon Hopkins album if you don’t believe me.) That said, not much of any rock music benefits from a Dolby Atmos mix. (Though, there are exceptions).
Want More Metal? Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter
Enter your e-mail below to get a daily update with all of our headlines.