Atmos panning perspective question

I know it’s still the “Wild West/No Rules Yet” frontier regarding ATMOS music mixing. But I was wondering, as a starting point, how you approach the perspective for panning in your mixes.

In other words, the surround panner shows the listener in the center of the virtual room. But it you think of it as an actual room, you would not be that close to the stage/performance area. So, do any of you pull that reference back a 3rd or so to approximate a real listener’s perspective?

I also like the perspective of being IN the performance, which justifies leaving the ref point in the center. I’m sure there are other options and/or variables besides these. I just wondered what most clients expect.

In terms of music I’m more a consumer than a mixer, but I have listened to a lot of Atmos masteres and re-mastered songs lately to understand the medium.

While from a purist perspective the idea of being a mouse in the middle of the orchestra floor is a bit odd and seems counter intuitive, as a listener I found the ones that actively enveloped me with sound from all directions and utilized the full space were much more interesting to listen to, whether I was actively listening or just playing them while working. To me those were the only ones where I felt immersed, rather than listening to a performance.

In particular ones who moved specific elements with higher frequencies around and even had them interact with each other. Lushes dynamic sound.

But take with a grain of salt.


Adding to this:

I think it’s a bit easier in EDM genres rather than classic band arrangements. One of the very successful remasters is the German band Kraftwerk - check out their ‘3-D Der Katalog’ album on Apple Music. The album ‘Point Yello’ is also noteworthy.

I’ve come across some interesting examples of Bollywood music. There is also an interesting album from the London Symphony Orchestra ‘The Immersive Experience’. But I think that is naturally more limited because we’re so used to classical performances, that it’s odd to tear them apart spatially.

Apple has assembled two special albums ‘Made for Spatial Audio’, which is like 17hrs of remastered, some classics some more contemporary. There’s a corresponding ‘Film, TV & Stage in Spatial Audio’ album.

PS: If you’re on a Mac connected to your Atmos audio interface, and setup the appropriate speaker config, Apple Music and Apple TV+ will play Atmos content natively on the OS. No extra software or hardware needed. Good way to sample what’s out there. If your audio interface allows soloing speakers and gives you meters (I use the Apollo X8/X16) it’s helpful to analyze what goes where.

I find it curious that there are no tutorials or articles about RECORDING for ATMOS content. There was plenty of stuff on doing it for 5.1 surround. I would’ve thought that someone would have dusted off those old articles as a starting point to apply to ATMOS prep.

Back to perspective, I wonder if they’ll start making perspective options in future content. Maybe something from the left or right orchestra seating, but still in the sweet spot, perhaps mezzanine or balcony perspective. Bottom line: If this platform is all about “placing you there” in this virtual reality, then I think that we shouldn’t be limiting ourselves to just this “center of it” perspective

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