Correct bus support for Dolby Atmos projects

Submitting a formal bug report here at the suggestion of Steinberg support.

Problem: When you follow the Nuendo manual directions* for setting up a Dolby 7.1, 9.1 or Atmos workflow, the bus names appear incorrectly in the mixer (see screenshots below).

Cause: A device port swap is required because the Dolby renderer, when working with anything from 7.1 up to 9.1 Atmos projects, expects side surrounds to appear before the back/rear surrounds.

Desired result: When setting up for Dolby 7.1 or higher, Nuendo should have the option for users to reconfigure the buss order to coincide with the Dolby specification. (That is, side surround busses should appear before back surrounds.) Perhaps this could be accomplished if we simply had the ability to re-name busses following a Device port swap?

Workaround: Swapping physical outputs at the DA converter can rectify mislabeled busses, although this of course may be problematic if you work with more than one DAW. (Pro Tools, for example, puts side surround busses ahead of the back surrounds, as per Dolby spec.)

Most recent documentation for the Dolby channel order spec can be referenced in the “Authoring for Dolby® AtmosTM Cinema Sound Manual”, as well as in the “Dolby Atmos Renderer Guide”, Table 2.

https://www.dolby.com/uploadedFiles/Assets/US/Doc/Professional/Authoring_for_Dolby_Atmos_Cinema_Sound_Manual(1).pdf

  • From the Nuendo manual: “In Nuendo, the order of surround busses and side busses follows the specification of Microsoft Inc. To meet the Dolby specification for side surround busses and surround rear busses, swap the device ports of surround busses and side busses.”

Screenshots illustrating the issue are below:

This screenshot shows where I swap the Device ports as directed:

In this screenshot, the red circle annotates how the mixer routing window does not portray the correct surround busses for the Dolby project. I believe it would be best if Nuendo was able to properly support a Dolby workflow with correct bus names.



Screen Shot 2019-07-17 at 3.48.41 PM.png

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An additional minor, though mentionable problem regarding Nuendo’s quirky support for Dolby surround is inconsistent naming of the height labels.

In this screen shot you can see where height channel abbreviations in the connections window for child busses do not match the actual bus descriptions. i.e., “Top Back Left” receives the abbreviation “Trl”. etc.


height-labels-error.jpg

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Bumping my request for Dolby-specific bus labeling. Been working with this Nuendo limitation for a year. Still a hassle.

TLDR: Surround speakers are supposed be the side, not the back of the room.

Note of interest: In the last year Apple has introduced support for spatial audio, which relies primarily on Dolby Atmos. We can expect the popularity of iPhones and AirPods to further cement Dolby Atmos as the de facto standard for surround and immersive audio.

Also of note is that consumer 7.1, 9.1 and higher receivers have long also labeled side speakers as the surrounds.

you can use the mixerdelay plugin, with zero delay, to fix some of these issues. Haven’t tried it with atmos but have used it to reassign channels for SMPTE/Film in 5.1/7.1

Basically it can internally reroute channels - use it in the control room ?

might work for you ?

Hi there,
I just received an ADM which comes in as 7.1.2. When I place the Renderer in that bus, Nuendo will not allow it. So does N11 only support 7.1.4 and if so, how do I work with a project that was mixed in a 7.1.2 enviornment.
Thanks.

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+1, this needs to be done correctly.

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+1 too! I agree that this nomenclature needs to be standardized.
The renderer does it one way, Pro-Tools another, Nuendo yet another, and then there are all the plug-ins that use even different abbreviations.

Here are some ideas on this that might be worth considering:

Standardize the order (just like operator order in mathematics or programming).
Setup rules like the following - where ALL letters used are unique…
L=Left (never short for LFE)
C=Center
R=Right (NEVER Rear)
F=Front
S=Side
B=Back
T=Top (unspecified would mean the ear level layer)
and then the order X, Y, Z
X Direction (Left, Center or Right) = (L, C R)
Y Direction (Front, Side, Back) = (F, S, B)
Z or Height Designation (“unspecified” or “T”)

So:
1 letter = primary L, C, R
2 letters = ear level LS, LB, RS, RB
3 letters = LFE (an actual acronym that means something)
or alternatively the Top channels LFT, RFT, LST, RST, LBT, RBT

Notes:
Surround designation not needed - (thus S(side) will not be confused with S(surround))
Back is used for “Rear” as to not confuse it with “Right”

Getting manufacturers to all agree on surround labels is probably outside the scope of this feature request. All I was asking was for Nuendo to implement correct bus support for the Dolby spec (which Pro Tools does support, btw). I see this is still not the case with Nuendo 11 as stated in the manual: “To meet the Dolby specification for side surround channels and surround rear channels, swap the device ports of surround channels and side channels.” Why Nuendo continues to prioritize the “specifications of Microsoft Inc.” in 2021 is beyond me…

Edit: Here’s link to the N11 manual quote (scroll to bottom): Available Surround Channel Configurations

Because it is an EBU standard?

Fredo

Fine - Let me rephrase: I have no idea why Nuendo continues to fail to properly support the Dolby spec when Dolby has long been the de facto standard among both consumer hardware and streaming video delivery.

Let me put it another way: I see the Nuendo YouTube channel has started putting up videos to convince Pro Tools users to jump ship. What kind of impression is it going to leave when Steinberg (or someone else) has to put up a “how-to” video on this janky bus-swap workaround needed to achieve proper Dolby support in Nuendo?

You can also ask why Dolby is refusing to adopt the international standards? (ITU/EBU/SMPTE)
Same for Protools, Why did they stick to the Film Channel order?
“Film Order” has never been a standard, it is just the way Dolby historically did it.

To add more confusion, their DCP2000 (Digital Cinema Server) ONLY accepted MultiBwave files in the ITU order. It wasn’t until a software update which allowed importing Bwave-file created according the Microsoft Wave Extensible format (which correctly allocates the channel order of imported files) that you could deliver Multi bwaves in Film Order.
Maybe things have changed, it has been a long time since I have been near a DCP2000.

Fredo

I don’t know the answers to your questions. (Nor do I believe such a discussion belongs in a feature request thread, thank you.) I can only point out that as it stands today, Nuendo does not fully support the Dolby workflow. My request does not ask for Nuendo to omit support for the Microsoft/EBU standard, only for Nuendo to add proper support for the Dolby workflow - something I believe is critical as Dolby Atmos becomes more common among digital distributors.

Agreed! Sorry for the rant but little things like this drive me crazy - especially when trying to teach or explain this to others.
At least in this case, it is kind of a set it and forget it type switch. Although I do wonder why they followed the Microsoft spec of all things…

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Well, the problem with Steinberg’s workaround in this case is it’s easy to forget the “gotcha” with Dolby support in Nuendo, leading towards trouble and frustration at a later date. Better if Nuendo would implement a user preference or new setting which would properly configure Nuendo bussing for the Dolby spec. Again, especially if they want to bring Pro Tools users on board.

Don’t get me wrong guys, I am all for a “clear” solution.
Nothing is more confusing than confusion. :slight_smile:

I was only explaining the reasons why Steinberg sticks to standards.

Fredo

No problem, Fredo. It’s one of the reasons why I’ve stayed with Steinberg for 20+ years. And why I trust they will eventually do the right thing in regards to supporting the Dolby workflow, which is an industry standard in itself.