Sony Pixel Power calrec Sony

You Can Do Immersive Audio. Right Now.


You don't need a massive surround system with speakers wired all over your studio to create immersive audio. Whether you want surround or Dolby Atmos mixes, Studio One Professional 6.5 delivers immersive sound over not just speakers, but the headphones you already have. Although it's counterintuitive that headphones pressed up against your ears can deliver immersive audio, binaural audio makes it possible-here's why.

Binaural recordings capture audio using a dummy human head with molded, lifelike ear canals. There are two mics, one for each ear. Whether sounds are reaching human ears or microphones in dummy ears, sounds coming from the sides or back have different levels, frequency responses, and delay times compared to those sounds reaching your ears from the front. Incorporating these differences in audio played back through headphones makes it sound like you're hearing audio from front, sides, above, and behind you. In other words, listening to a binaural recording through headphones sounds like you're hearing sound in a real-world space. Which brings us to


Before headphones can reproduce the effect of hearing immersive audio, we need to create music in the studio that provides a feeling of space. One option is surround sound, which has been applied to movies for almost half a century.

Surround places sound all around you by supplementing stereo's left and right channels with four more speakers: center channel for dialog, left rear, right rear, and a subwoofer for a movie's bass requirements-explosions, earthquakes, and so on. When mixing music for surround, the center isn't as important as it is for movies, because placing the same audio in the left and right channels creates a phantom center. Also, subwoofers are more about effects than reproducing notes. You can't differentiate note pitches below 20 Hz anyway.

Mixing for surround is kind of like mixing for stereo, except you direct audio files to multiple speakers. So, panpots are now surround panners (fig. 1).

Figure 1: Studio One's Surround Panner.

Enter Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is a bigger leap from surround than surround was from stereo. First, Atmos adds an element of height. Now you're not just surrounded by sound, but immersed in a space. Second, Atmos isn't audio, like a WAV file. Unlike surround, where your choices of where to place sound are limited by the number of speakers, Atmos is about metadata that places mono or stereo sounds in a virtual 3D world.

The optimum way to experience Atmos is with speakers, although that involves some complications and calibrations. For example, to hear sound above you, your height speaker (often part of a soundbar) bounces sound off the ceiling. You also need a room that accommodates multiple speakers. However, there's a brilliant alternative to speakers: binaural sound through headphones. You don't need a complex multichannel setup, because thanks to binaural audio, you can mix with Atmos and hear the results over headphones. After creating your mix in Atmos's 3D space, just render that as binaural audio, and voil -people listening to your rendered mix over headphones will hear what you heard as you mixed it.

Check out Dolby's short YouTube demo while listening on headphones, and you'll hear how well an Atmos mix gives a sense of space with headphones.

What Atmos Metadata Defines

Atmos differentiates between a Bed and an Object. A bed is very much like a massive stem based on a conventional, channel-based mix with specific channel restrictions-like 2.0 (stereo), 5.1, or 7.1 surround. (Note that Atmos supports multiple beds.) Conceptually, this is no different than using the console in previous Studio One versions, except that the mix for the bed can include elements that go beyond stereo. These include multi-channel panning for 5.1 or 7.1 surround, and multichannel-friendly effects (fig. 2).

Figure 2: The new Surround Delay is pretty wild-just wait until you try it.

Spatially speaking, the bed has a fixed position in space. For example, consider a movie, where characters are seated in a casino. The bed would consist of the casino sounds in the background, people talking, gamblers, and wait staff moving around based on conventional surround panning.

An Object is discrete mono or stereo audio that can be placed anywhere in the 3D Atmos space. It's not tied to particular channels, like the bed, but is floating in space. For example, in the casino example above, James Bond could be an object. He walks down a staircase in the back of the casino, saunters toward the front, moves to one side of a baccarat table, stands for a while to observe the action, and then walks over to where he can find a seat. Atmos's dedicated object panning makes it easy to have objects move around in your 3D space (fig. 3).

Figure 3: The Object Panner can move objects in a 3D space. You can automate these changes.

Another way to think of beds and objects is a band playing on stage. The drummer, bassist next to the drummer, keyboard player, and background singers remain at their spots on stage. They're the bed. The lead singer who prances around and the lead guitarist who uses a wireless system to go into the crowd are the objects.

Metadata and Tracks

Atmos defines up to 128 tracks, including objects, to create the spatial field. For movies, this typically involves mixing 10 tracks for a 9.1 surround bed, and up to 118 objects. However, you can distribute the 128 tracks any way you want. This is where the metadata comes into play. It specifies location or panning data, including how fast an object moves, the level of the audio, and the like. Basically, it's the audio's traffic director, and routes audio in the 3D soundfield.

Rendering with Atmos

The Dolby Atmos Renderer included in version 6.5 co
See more stories from presonus

More from PreSonus


Impact XT's Secret Clip-Launching Talents

By Craig Anderton Impact XT can launch clips, which is great for songwriting (see the blog post Songwriting with Impact XT). But few people realize that Impact...


Make Better Mixes with Selective EQ

By Craig Anderton Good mixes often depend on carving out a unique sonic space for each instrument, so you can hear them clearly. Sometimes carving out that spa...


Multitimbral Magic with MIDI Guitar

By Craig Anderton MIDI guitars are a niche product, because the learning curve can be daunting for some guitar players. However, I'm surprised how many pro...


Avoid Collaboration Concerns

By Craig Anderton As the universe of Studio One users grows, so do opportunities for collaboration. But your collaborator may not be using the same version of ...


Create Rhythmic Alchemy with the BeatCoder

By Craig Anderton Over three years ago, I wrote a blog post on how to make a drumcoder. Its design was somewhat like a vocoder-drum audio served as a modulat...


Make Stereo Downmixes More Immersive

By Craig Anderton One of Atmos's coolest features is scalability. No matter how complex your Atmos project may be, you can render it as Binaural, 5.1, 5.1....


Studio One: A Brief Exploration with Great Good Fine Okay

Watch the Brooklyn Synthpop duo remix their song Blame in Studio One Less than 24 hours after meeting each other, producer Luke Moellman and vocalist Jon San...


Stamp Out Boring Flanging!

By Craig Anderton The impetus behind this design was wanting to add envelope flanging to amp sims like Ampire. But there's a problem: most amp sim outputs ...


Creating Room Ambiance with Virtual Mics

By Craig Anderton Supplementing close-miking techniques with room mics gives acoustic sounds a life-like sense of space. Typically, this technique involves pla...


Notion Mobile 3.3 Now Available

Notion Mobile v3 took mobile music creation to the next level with support for iOS, Android, Windows, Fire OS and macOS. Now v3.3 adds many enhancements and fix...


The Sweet Spot with Grammy-Nominated Producer 6ix

Logic's Grammy-nominated producer breaks down his Sweet Spot. Before he found success as an avant-garde hip hop producer, 6ix was just 30 units shy of a de...


The Sweet Spot with Multi-Platinum Producer Warren Huart

The Grammy-nominated multi-Platinum producer breaks down his Sweet Spot. From the studio with chart-topping artists like Aerosmith and The Fray, to empowering ...


Don't Make This Mixing Mistake!

By Craig Anderton Do you think of mixes in absolute terms, or relative terms? Knowing the difference, and when to apply which approach, can make a huge differe...


Tuff Beats

By Craig Anderton Calling all beats/hip-hop/EDM/hard rock fans: This novel effects starts with drums modulating the Vocoder's white noise carrier, and take...


Reinvent Your Stereo Panning

This tip is about working with stereo, NOT about Dolby Atmos or surround-but we're going to steal some of what Atmos does to reinvent stereo panning. Stud...


Studio One: Mix in a New Dimension with Jeff Ellis

The GRAMMY-winning recording and mix engineer shows us how he uses Studio One to create an artful immersive mix. Jeff Ellis is a force to be reckoned with. The...


Presence Electric 12-String (the Artist Version Remix)

Presence's sound library includes a fine acoustic 12-string guitar, but not an electric one. So, perhaps it's not surprising that one of the more popula...


Faster, Simpler, and Better Comping

At first, this might not seem too exciting. But follow the directions below, and try comping using this method-I don't think you'll be disappointed. Thi...


How to Quickly Slash Your Latency

You know the feeling: You're tracking or doing an overdub with a virtual instrument or amp sim, but you're frustrated by the excessive latency inherent ...


How to Fix Phase Issues

Recording audio using more than one feed from the same source may create phase issues. For example, when miking a bass amp and taking a DI (dry) input, the DI&#...


Bigger, Wider Sounds: Try Stereo Miking

If you haven't experimented yet with mid-side stereo miking, you'll be in for a treat when you do. Here's why: Record background singers with gorge...


How to Prioritize Vocals with Mix Ducking

This complements the tip Better Ducking for Voiceovers and Podcasts and the tip Why I Don't Use Compression Anymore. It applies the concept of voiceover duc...


Should You Use Highpass Filters when Mixing?

Engineers sometimes advocate using high-pass filters to clean up the low end and tighten the sound. Others believe that because of issues inherent in highpass...


Studio One: A Brief Exploration with Josh Cumbee

The GRAMMY-nominated artist, producer, and songwriter shows us how he uses Studio One to cook a musical idea from scratch. Josh Cumbee is a triple threat: The ...


Why I Don't Use Compressors Anymore

This wasn't a conscious decision, or something I planned. But when I looked through my last few songs while seeking candidates for a book's screenshots,...


Phrasing-The Final Correction Frontier

First, a follow-up: In the October 13 tip about creating Track Presets for parallel processing, I mentioned that Track Presets can't include buses, which is...


Vocoder Tweaks and Tricks

Vocoder's aren't normal effects. For example, Arturia's Vocoder V is an effect/instrument hybrid, because it's an audio effect that includes a...


Release Your Music in Stereo and Immersive

For over a decade, stereo and mono vinyl records co-existed before the transition to stereo was complete. During that time, many records were released in both m...


String Arrangements Made Simple

Strings can enhance almost any genre of music-and with a little more effort, you can do string arrangements that go beyond simply adding a string pad preset. So...


The Metal Amp De-Harsher

Since Dynamic EQ was introduced in version 5, I've used it to replace and improve some techniques I used to do with static EQ. For example, I'm a fan of...


Capture-and Keep-Your Creative Impulses

Gregor Beyerle recently posted a video called Producer vs. Engineer-What's the Difference?, which had quite a few comments. It seems most people feel that f...


Better Drum Reverb with Dynamic EQ

Sending too many low frequencies through reverb gives a bloated, muddy sound. This is one reason why you'll rarely see a send from a bass track going into r...


A Happy Accident for Drum Sounds

While trying to do something else with Melodyne, I stumbled on this way to add depth or tightness to drum sounds-quickly and easily. Here's the sound of an ...


Create Track Presets for Parallel Processing

Parallel processing splits a signal into two or more parallel channels. Bi-amping is a common example of parallel processing: One channel processes low frequen...


Easy Atmos: Grab Headphones, Mix, Have Fun!

Everyone talks about the importance of Dolby Atmos for post-production, but the implications go further than that. Atmos really does change how you create and ...


You Can Do Immersive Audio. Right Now.

You don't need a massive surround system with speakers wired all over your studio to create immersive audio. Whether you want surround or Dolby Atmos mixes...


Better Ducking for Voiceovers & Podcasts

By Craig Anderton Background music or environmental sounds are usually an essential part of commercials, movies, presentations, podcasts, and more. When doing ...


Steal Your Intro-with Ripple Editing

The post Mixing la Studio One had a great response, so here's another tip that relates more to making better music than making better-sounding music. We&#...


Quick EQ Fixes with Dynamic Tilt EQ

This FX Chain's inspiration is the Tilt filter circuit created by Tonelux designer Paul Wolff. First used in the Tonelux MP1A mic preamp, the Tilt filter h...


Create Authentic, Customizable EDM Pumping with X-Trem

But first, some breaking news: Version 1.5 of The Huge Book of Studio One Tips and Tricks is now available from the PreSonus shop. Like previous versions, it...


Superspeed Comping with Studio One 6.2

Studio One 6.2 reworked Layer and Take handling, and some of the new functionality is exceptionally useful. For example, suppose you want to record comp vocals ...


The PhaseTone Warper

We haven't done a boutique digital effect for Studio One Professional in a while, so let's use a plugin in a totally wrong way-yet end up with somethi...


Improve MIDI Drum Loop Flow

MIDI drum loops have a bad rap, because some musicians consider them metronomic and boring. But they don't have to be. Subtly leading or lagging the beat at...


Mixing la Studio One

Ask 100 recording engineers about their approach to mixing, and you'll hear 100 different answers. Here's mine, and how this approach relates to Studio ...


FL Studio Meets Studio One

FL Studio is a cool program. Yet when some users see me working with Studio One's features like comping tools, harmonic editing, the lyrics track, Mix FX, M...


Make Bass Pop in Your Mix

Bass has a tough gig. Speakers have a hard time reproducing such low frequencies. Also, the ear is less sensitive to low (and high) frequencies compared to midr...


Notion Mobile 3.2 Now Available

Notion Mobile v3 took mobile music creation to the next level with support for iOS, Android, Windows and macOS. Now v3.2 adds many enhancements and fixes, as we...


Enhance Your Reverb's Image

First, an announcement: If you own the eBook How to Record and Mix Great Vocals in Studio One, you can download the 2.1 update for free from your PreSonus acc...


Free! Three Primo Piano Presets

Let's transform your acoustic piano instrument sounds-with effects that showcase the power of Multiband Dynamics. Choose from two download links at the end ...


Fix Boring Acoustic Drum Loops

Acoustic drum loops freeze-dry a drummer's playing-so, what you hear is what you get. What you get. What you get. What you get. What you get. What you get. ...