Dolby Atmos: The Revolution of the Sound System


dolby atmos

Keeno: “An amazing sound-system has the potential to engage people in a totally immersive way just as much as a terrible one has the ability to completely kill a vibe. Drum & bass is such a production-focused genre and therefore requires a very tight system”

Metrik: “A sound-system can make or break a night. Drum & bass is high energy club music that is designed to be heard on a powerful club sound-system so I see it as probably the most important part of an event”

TC: “A heavy sound-system is a must! If there is no bass, half the music is missing in drum & bass and the night can be effectively ruined as a result”

There’s a multitude of things we have to consider when choosing which night is most deserving of our money. The line-up, venue and whether or not we can get home without having to rough it for a few hours waiting for a train home all come into the equation.

But there’s one thing that arguably surpasses everything else; the sound-system.

A decent sound-system has the technical spec to make you hear every single detail of the tunes being played, the sheer clout to block out your mate’s incoherent ramblings and, ultimately, the ability to turn a good night into a great night.

That’s why it’s thoroughly exciting that the sound boffs at Dolby’s laboratories have decided to revolutionise the sound-system as we currently know it with the introduction of Dolby Atmos. It’s essentially the audio equivalent of watching a film in 3D and will provide us lucky sods with a completely new clubbing experience.

Of course, a sufficiently weighty line-up and historic venue is required to mark the dawn of such an advanced system… Hospital Records at Ministry of Sound doesn’t sound too bad, does it? The D&B powerhouse will take over the London venue on January 23 with a billing fitting of such an event.

TC, Reso and London Elektricity will be playing full Dolby Atmos sets on the night and have all spent a considerable amount of time tucked away in Dolby’s studios, tweaking their tracks to make them sound as awesome as possible in Dolby Atmos. Keeno, Metrik and S.P.Y aren’t on the bill, but have also spent time in the Dolby studios adding three-dimensional features to some of their tracks for a special airing.

But how exactly will the system provide such a unique listening experience? Is it a case of applying a trickle of WD-40 to each of the club’s existing speakers? Not quite… Instead, it’s largely thanks to the whopping addition of sixty speakers to Ministry of Sound’s already impressive setup, all meticulously positioned to create a fully immersive, atmospheric 3D soundscape. Cool, huh?

Read on to find out more about the night, including the science behind the system and how the artists have been preparing for it. Deep insider knowledge follows from London Elektricity, Reso, TC, Keeno, Metrik, S.P.Y and the man spearheading the project, Gabriel Cory

Gabriel Cory – Product Manager, Dolby

Why should people be excited?
“Fans can expect an entirely new way of experiencing the club and it will sound better than anything they’ve ever heard before – guaranteed”

“This night came about after the entertainment manager at Ministry of Sound invited Tony and Josh from Hospital Records to come into the studio for a Dolby Atmos demo. We shared our vision of music being performed in Dolby Atmos and decided to collaborate on the first show of the Dolby Atmos residency to unveil this to the world.

“We’ve been working closely with a number of Hospital’s artists to make absolutely amazing mixes with Dolby Atmos. The Box is going to come alive with music coming from all directions – including from overhead. Dolby started working on the Dolby Atmos music project about 2 years ago, and in that time we’ve made sure the experience is as good as we can make it. Our goal and focus has been to develop this technology for artists to create and perform music in a new way.

“I really think this is a groundbreaking event for electronic music. This new way of creating and performing music using Dolby Atmos creates an entirely new experience for both artists and fans; artists have the ability to create music in a new way and when they play their music it’s more engaging and interactive because they can solo and loop individual elements of their song, and move them to different areas of the club.

“For fans, you get to be completely immersed in music, with it being played and moved around and above and around you, all connected to lighting visuals so you can see where the audio is moving around you… very awesome stuff!

“We’ve been working on this project for two years and couldn’t be more excited to launch it with Tony and Hospital crew at Ministry of Sound. I’m not only excited, I’m also looking forward to how much fun it’s going to be!”

London Elektricity

Why should people be excited?
“It’s a completely unique opportunity and potentially mind-blowing”

“The fact a company as massive as Dolby has chosen the humble Hospital Records to premiere the system is quite incredible and we’re very chuffed. It was an instant yes for me because I’m a massive studio geek and love new technology – I just didn’t quite realise it would occupy the last two months of my life quite so much!

“It’s completely out of my comfort zone and incredibly daunting. It’s totally new and I’m shitting myself to be quite honest… but I’m loving the new challenge. DJing is made fairly easy these days so it’s lovely to be in a situation that’s even more challenging than playing a vinyl set. I’m confident that I’ve got the ideal setlist to blow people away on the night.

“What we don’t want is people to be stood in the middle of the room just listening to the cool effects; we want people to be dancing and going ‘wow!’ at the same time. There will be times during my set I will expect people to just stop and listen because what’s going on will be so unusual – but then I’ll throw in a gully banger and it will go off again.

“I do believe that this is the way it’s going to go in the future because it’s a natural progression for super-clubs. It’s an incredible start to 2016 for Hospital Records and I can’t wait to get in there! It’s going to be incredible.”


Why should people be excited?
“It will be the only place people will be able hear a sound-system like it for the time being”

“This project has been a lot of hard work, perhaps more than I first anticipated! I’ve been trying to make sense of my absolute ball-bag arrangements in the Dolby studio and it hasn’t been easy; there’s no rhyme or reason to my music, it isn’t all nicely grouped together, it’s all over the place. It’s taken me about two hours on each tune to get them sounding right for the system. Difficult, but fun.

“After spending time in the Dolby studio we found that the Dolby Atmos feature is particularly cool when it comes to things like percussion tail-offs, because you can make them spin around people’s heads and sweep around the room, which sounds wicked. It’s been a case of trying to figure out which parts of tunes will sound coolest with the full surround sound applied to them.

“It tends to work better on more melodic tunes. On hard neurofunk tunes there’s so much going on it’s hard to pick out which bits to give the treatment. I opened up my Callisto project and immediately thought there is no fucking way I’m working on that one! Ricochet has worked really well, I think that’s because it’s more sparsely arranged and a bit more minimal – listen out for that one…

“It’s a pretty unique event and we’re all very excited about it. My one tip would be to stand in the middle of the room to get the full effect!”


Why should people be excited?
“Because there’s no way it isn’t going to sound absolutely sick!”

“It’s going to be a really interesting night because there is so much control over the sound from our point of view – more than ever before.

“Drum & bass has always been at the forefront for studio technology. If you can get the edge in terms of quality or sound design then it’s a genre definitely right at the rock face, so I can see many people getting excited about this technology. I want to have fun with it and I’m requesting a few special tracks and sound effects to drop throughout my set…

“Technically, the way we are going to be DJing will be a challenge, but it’s nothing we don’t have to deal with anyway.”


Why should people be excited?
“Because people will get to hear their favourite Hospital tunes played in 22.2 surround sound, with each song deconstructed and spatially rearranged especially for them”

“I think the energy will be slightly different to other D&B nights – the crowd will really be listening closely to the music itself rather than just going hard. The added surround sound will also create some unique moments. Also, I think there will be people in the crowd who are unfamiliar with D&B but eager to hear what the sound is like, so there’s potential there to convert some new heads too.

“Each stereo stem is assigned to a “sound object” – in other words, grouping the sounds so they can be moved together. These sound objects can be moved across the whole system in any direction so, as you can imagine, it’s tempting to go overboard with the effects! It was therefore important to keep the focus on the key elements of each track (drums, bass, vocals for example) by centering them in the sound system. If the drums were to keep moving around the room, I think people would find it a lot more difficult to get into a groove – especially for more rolling tunes.

“My tracks turned out amazingly, especially Origin. Suddenly it has been transformed into a really dynamic and cinematic piece. Being able to separate the sounds in each song makes them more transparent yet without losing any intensity was what impressed me the most. I can’t wait to hear them on Ministry of Sound’s system!

“I have no apprehensions over how the night will go, especially having heard tunes such as Metrik’s Want My Love in Dolby’s studio. Hospital events always have a special atmosphere for me and I couldn’t think of a more ideal place for Dolby Atmos to be road tested.”


Why should people be excited?
“This event is the first of its kind and the experience will be out of this world”

“The music will be played back through 60 speakers built into the walls and ceiling. It has been mixed to take full advantage of the space. The fact that the sound is animated in a 3D space gives the music a much deeper narrative – the overall effect is like a cinematic experience. It is truly state of the art and unique.

“Most of the work was put into bringing the elements to life by animating them in the space. Dolby have developed sophisticated software allowing you to move the sound in the 3D space in pretty much an infinite number of possibilities. Rather than the traditional 5.1 surround sound setup, Dolby Atmos allows manipulation of the sound in the vertical plane giving the listener a real sense of scale and distance.

“My chief priority was to ensure the mixes carried enough weight and translated properly on a multi-dimensional sound system. It’s a different ball game when there are so many channels and speakers at play. I was given a tour of the building and shown some of their new technology – it’s next level.

“You can create effects like a plane flying over, or applying motion to objects so they oscillate vertically and horizontally. For example, I made a synth lead travel across the ceiling from front to back then go into a circular pattern. I also made accelerating risers that spiral upwards like a helicopter rotor. In other instances, I allowed a sound to just sit in a space doing it’s thing – the novelty of hearing music in this way is almost impressive enough even without the complex motion panning.

“I experimented with mixing electronic music in surround sound a few years ago. It’s a technology that has always excited me and it’s great to see it starting to happen.”


Why should people be excited?
“The whole science behind this is really cool. I’ve been geeking out quite a lot about it recently and have decided I want to make my next album in Dolby’s studio!”

“I’m gutted I’m not playing on the night, especially as lots of my tunes are quite cinematic and would suit Dolby Atmos really nicely. I went to the Dolby studios to mixdown a few of my tracks for the night and I was so jealous! Tony chose which tunes of mine he wanted me to remaster because he’ll be the one playing my music on the night. I’m really happy with his choices and I think they’re going to sound great.

“I found that you need to have a lot of imagination when altering tracks to be played in this mode, it’s not just a case of mastering a track in normal stereo. It’s very easy to make it sound wrong, which is why it’s taken so long for everyone to get their tracks sorted. Having listened to what everyone has come up with so far, I know that they’ve got it just right.

“I don’t know how it will sound in the club exactly, but if it sounds half as good as it does in the studio then people are going to be extremely impressed on the night. It’s going to be completely different to other D&B nights – it will be more about the music than ever before.”

Tickets: http://hospi.tl/ultrasound
Event info: http://hospi.tl/fbultrasound

2 thoughts on “Dolby Atmos: The Revolution of the Sound System”

  • I hope they (Hospitality DJs) start touring with such a sound system. Especially when they come to Birmingham because the sound system in the Rainbow Warehouse is crap.

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