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Anyone use Dolby Atmos with headphones?

Discussion in 'Sound Science' started by Paddy, Sep 23, 2018.
  1. bigshot
    There's no such thing as purity of sound. If you like hearing it the way it was intended you wouldn't be listening to headphones anyway. There's nothing wrong with listening to music on headphones instead of speakers, in a living room instead of a sound studio, with a DSP instead of straight, or with a room correction DSP for that matter. When a signal hits a transducer, all bets are off. You aren't talking about purity of sound or perfect fidelity any more. You've entered the natural world of compromises and optimization. You should do what you can to make it sound as good to your ears as possible. And it's fine for other people to do the same. Experiment and see what works best.

    I have a multichannel speaker system with a variety of DSPs to choose from. I can tell you exactly what the hall ambience DSP is good for...

    Arturo Toscanini recorded with the NBC Symphony Orchestra in Studio 8H. The studio was large by radio standards, but it was much too small for a symphony orchestra to record in. The performances in these recordings are brilliant, but the mono sound is boxy, dry and harsh to the point that it is difficult to listen to them. Playing these recordings though a multichannel hall ambience solves all of the problems... The sound field is surround instead of just mono, the sound is opened up and allowed to bloom properly, not boxy, and the hall reflections add a natural sounding acoustic to notoriously dry recordings. The difference between playing these recordings "as they were intended" and "enhanced" is not at all subtle, and even the most dogmatic audiophile would agree that using the DSP in this case is a vast improvement. It doesn't just alter the sound, it improves the recording itself and makes it sound more natural.

    DSPs are tools that can be used well or used poorly. A hammer can be used to build a house, and it can be used to bash someone's brains in. The hammer itself isn't bad. It's the same with DSPs. In a perfect world, all recordings would be perfect... they would all be multichannel, they would all have perfect balances for your particular living room,.. they would all be recorded in perfect venues. But we don't live in a perfect world, so dogmatic approaches to "signal purity" aren't smart.

    It's better to have a good selection of tools and know how to apply them well.
    Last edited: Apr 3, 2019
  2. jason41987
    i never got dolby atmos to work properly, but i use a headphone DAC that has 7.1 dolby integrated and i can hear a major difference in audio quality.. largely due to the crossfeed effect that simulates hearing music from speakers and not speakers in your ears.. in fact, i've been thinking of using the DD DAC and integrating it into my ow DAC/AMP combo
    Malfunkt likes this.
  3. Reddart67
    Ok, somewhat on topic....so I got the Abbey Road super deluxe set that has the blewray with the highres versions as well as Atmos. I can burn the 96/24 stereo, but I have no idea on how to access or playback the Atmos version. Yes, I don’t have a multi speaker system, I just wanted to hear the Atmos mix on headphones.

    Does anyone have any idea on how this can be accomplished?
  4. bfreedma

    Buy a Smyth Realiser A16.

    Otherwise, you're going to be down converting to stereo as you only have two channels/transducers to work with. If you want to hear the stereo version of the ATMOS track, use MakeMKV to extract the audio tracks from the Blu-Ray.
  5. Davesrose
    I'm not sure how good Atmos is for high res music. I have an Atmos receiver, and I tend to keep BD music at (what is normally) DTS HD 96khz. Atmos is great for movies to convey overhead effects (and I've found upmixing 5.1 tracks to 3-D surround can also be convincing: was really blown away by one 5.1 movie and hearing helicopter blades being rendered overhead with upmixing). I do have Bohemian Rhapsody and some other music centric movies in Atmos now. However, I've found Atmos theater is very different from Atmos headphone. For trying to matrix surround sound to headphone, I've usually not heard a surround scape with headphones (with movies encoded with Atmos for Windows 10 listening through headphones, I've more just noticed an uptick in bass). Tracks that are specifically Atmos headphone are another thing though: there's some games that have it, and I've heard it with Youtube demos: tracks that are specifically Atmos headphone does have a sense of a surround soundscape to me.
  6. SilverEars
    So this weekend I got to try out a set of Kef LS50 wireless and came out disappointed from not meeting the expections set forth from it's hype. A set of monitors I use is JBL LSR305, and it's really not a significant enough upgrade beside costing tons more.

    I could not tell much of a difference, and this might be due to my ears not much experienced with speakers. Also, I find speakers have it's inherent characteristics I dislike, such as sound being two point sources, and realism isn't really on point due to this aspect. Perhaps we can get much better imaging some how. With speakers I expect much better imaging with some magic, but that's not what I was getting with the 2 channels even if it was placed in a triangular fashion.

    Another downside of these monitor like speakers is the separation of sounds, the clarity isn't as great as some top headphone rigs out there.

    I would be interested in Atmos, but the issue is that music isn't recorded for Atmos. Music is generally two channels. It would be fun to get realistic imaging though. By realistic imaging I mean precise perception of location.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2019
  7. Davesrose
    My reference is now a 7.1.4 system, which is quite different than a 2 speaker desktop seup. I have an Intel NUC HTPC for watching movies and can convert regular surround to 7.1 My 7channel setup is one I've had for a number of years: DCM timeframe and bipole speakers. My height speakers are now SVS Elevations (as it seemed they were like my DCMs on paper). My subwoofer is a DIY I made quite a few years ago that has a 12" high excursion characteristics. Main point is that I find Atmos surround to have total immersions, and matrix 3D surround can be good as well.
  8. bigshot
    How are you using the bipole speakers? I talked with my theater tech about that and he talked me out of that. I'm curious how you're using them.
  9. Davesrose
    For me, I think bipoles are good for surround speakers as they don't radiate in one direction and are more diffuse for surround. Although my speakers aren't technically bipoles: it does have a switch for switching to dipole and bipole. I have them in bipole mode, where the tweeters on both sides are actively radiating. One woofer does directly radiate and the other is a passive cone.
  10. bigshot
    I know bipoles are used for side channels in theaters, but you need a very deep room for them to really be required. I agree about the rears. I originally had normal speakers in the rears, and it couldn't create a phantom center because the room was too wide. My KEF speakers have a much broader dispersion pattern, so I get the center when engineers choose to place sound objects there. They don't do that often, because most home theaters can't handle that and it ends up sounding like mono out of both rears. The radial design of the KEFs supposedly corrects for time alignment better, but I don't think that makes all that much difference to be honest.
  11. bigshot
    If you're going to sit close enough to be able to sound locate the different drivers, you might want to check out the KEF Q350s. That's what I have in my rear channel. They are capable of putting out a very big sound and the drivers are nested in a radial design, so the sound all comes from a single point. They also have very broad dispersion so you can probable set them further apart and sit at a greater distance and get a larger sound stage than average from them. They're deceptively small in size, but they keep up with my big 15 inch six way JBL mains.
  12. SilverEars
    That's what I want. Big sound from speakers. I really don't like monitor speakers as i don't find that they provide good presence of the music like floor-standing speakers.

    I used to have a set of relatively inexpensive set of floor-standing speakers, and they sound more alive than these monitor speakers. I guess they are for particular applications.

    I liked the sound of Martin Logans as well for clarity.
    Last edited: Oct 7, 2019

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