Nuendo Dolby Atmos export only to ADM WAV, not final MP4, correct?

Yes, but that’s not reality. An Atmos mix can have all these objects positioned in a virtual 3D space, but you need enough speakers to turn that into reality, at least as faithfully as you can. You can do some trickery with two speakers (and I’m talking about decent speakers, not those tiny TV set speakers), but you cannot fake sound coming from behind you or above you.

With two speakers you can extend some of the width (I remember being fascinated by “Q Sound” when it came out around 1990 in Sting’s “The Soul Cages”), but anything else is just marketing BS.

Well but that to me is not a bad thing, or even an absurdity like saying that a flat screen TV set can reproduce Atmos with its two tiny speakers. Even if they are wireless, at least you have a couple of speakers in the back. or the sides, or wherever, but more than two speakers that help create a sense of positioning in a 3D space. I’m not going to buy it for myself, but it’s better than a soundbar (I’m referring to the plain ones, not the ones that come with extra speakers).

We can talk until our faces are blue about this, but my point is, they shouldn’t put that Dolby Atmos label on everything just to make some extra cash. You want Dolby Atmos? You don’t need a one million dollar mansion with an insulated room that has speakers in the ceiling after a local company charged you tens of thousands for that, plus the $3.,000 receiver and other gear. You just need a decent receiver like a Pioneer VSX-935, 3 pairs of JBL Stage 120 speakers, a center channel speaker of the same line, a decent subwoofer, and find good places for all of those.

If your ceiling is not flat, no big deal. If your room is not acoustically treated or insulated, no problem. Just take 15 minutes to adjust the EQ for each speaker (unfortunately it doesn’t have a one for all setting) to the music you like the most, because if you adjust it for movies, that doesn’t always mean that music will sound good. But you adjust it really well for music, and trust me, movies will sound great too. In part because most movies have music. But the higher the detail in music, the higher the detail in all those explosions and helicopters flying over your head. :laughing:

I am aware of this. :wink:

My point was that it is technically possible. Most people think of Atmos as a 9.1.6 format. Or a 5.1.2 format and so on. And they are right to do so. But in theory there is no fixed layout in Atmos. So you can produce stereo with Atmos. (It’s just that nobody does.)
Even the stereo downmix created automatically during encoding is quite usable. This is especially true for an independent stereo mix. You can add a separate 5.1 or stereo mix to TrueHD with Atmos, which becomes part of the Dolby Atmos stream and is played through a 5.1 system or stereo speakers (e.g. the TV’s internal speakers).

Atmos wants to be like MPEG-H. (Even if they are still far away.) Then it would also make sense to use stereo mixes, as there would be other functions that have nothing to do with additional speakers. (For example, individual muting of an audio object, such as the voice of a commentator.)

So listening to Atoms through two TV speakers is not as stupid as it sounds. That’s all I’m saying. :innocent:

That whole MPEG-H thing is a big mystery to me. I’m a technologist, and I love home theaters, and surround technologies. Yet, I had never even heard of MPEG-H until I was reading the differences between Cubase and Nuendo to see if it was worth to spend the $280 when the sale started. I didn’t have much time to read on it, but even Michael Wagner took the time to show how to use it in Nuendo. So it must be an interesting technology, but how do you even use it? I haven’t seen a single receiver that says anything about MPEG-H. Did this just come out?

Regardless, I understand your observations on Dolby Atmos, and it’s fine, but even if you can technically call audio from two speakers Dolby Atmos, the point of the technology is to create a better surround experience than 5.1 or 7.1 alone. Which honestly surprises me, because most people can’t be bothered to install a 5.1 setup. You can still get great surround from 5.1 with good speakers.

And how long do we have to wait for this technology to be available to all creators as a start to end solution instead of mostly all of it, but wait, if you want to render the final file that you can actually play on your receiver, you have to go through the bizarre interface of AWS, with its buckets and so on, or spend $300 on their encoder. Give me a freaking break, I just spent $280 on Nuendo, give me the damn encoder with it!

And I don’t want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but until recently, there was a way, albeit not very straightforward, for which you could listen to an ADM WAV in Dolby Atmos via your MAC with an Apple TV 4K. This was real, I did tests, and my receiver was telling me that it was a Dolby Atmos signal, and I could actually hear the stuff I had put in the Atmos speakers.

So someone at the Dolby forum asked how to do a poor man’s version of Dolby Atmos mixing, so I posted the steps. These steps worked every time. Back then I had only tested Atmos with Logic Pro X and had exported an ADM WAV. I had done this about a year ago, and then I did it again to document the steps for this guy. Worked just as good.

A few days ago I dipped my toe in the water with Nuendo in Atmos for the first time. I exported an ADM WAV. I did the same thing as before, same steps, which I actually had to read again because I had forgotten some things. But this time it didn’t work. After a lot of troubleshooting I concluded that the ADM file produced by Nuendo maybe was different than that produced by Logic Pro X.

So I decided to test if that old ADM file I had exported from LPX still worked the same way. And I realized that it doesn’t. Reproducing the same steps that I had in February of this year successfully with that same file now was leading nowhere.

And that’s when I realized, someone at Dolby read my post, and said "Oh, you darn devil! We didn’t realize you could do that! But that’s gonna cut into our profits for the encoder or the few cents we get from AWS using our tech! So like the aliens in Dark City, they went “SHUT IT DOWN!! SHUT IT DOWN, MR. QUICK!!”

I don’t know, just seems too much of a coincidence that something that worked one way from at least early 2023 to early 2024, now doesn’t after I posted all the steps.

So OK, those of us that don’t work in a studio and are just learning this stuff from home and can’t spend 300 bucks on the encoder have to rely on AWS. But just make the damn thing free, or give the same pricing to everyone, not $100 to ProTools users and the rest have to pay $300. I would buy it for $100, but no freaking way I’m spending $300 just so I don’t have to use AWS.

I wanted to post an update after installing the trial for the famous Dolby Atmos Renderer. So some observations for those like me, who don’t work at a large audio post facility and just thinking of making music in Dolby Atmos because of the advantages of positioning different instruments in the Y axis instead of just the basic 5.1 setup.

One is that the mixing itself is a bit of a pain to setup correctly, especially when it comes to FX tracks. I opened the template for music mixing in Atmos and I tried to figure out the routing, which seems to me a bit bizarre, but I may be wrong, it’s my first peek at it. But I came up with this, and those with more knowledge and experience please feel free to correct me:

By no means I’m saying it’s a nightmare, but it takes a lot more work than usual.

The other thing is that the $300 Dolby Atmos Renderer does encode to an MP4 that you can put in a thumb drive, then play it in your 4K Blu-ray or probably many other devices that send untouched bitstream to the receiver, and play the Atmos mix that you did. The receiver will show that it’s getting a Dolby Atmos stream.

The very disappointing part is that this is not Dolby True HD with Atmos like you get on Blu-rays, 4K or HD. This is Dolby Digital+ with Atmos. And it’s very lossy. You get a bitrate of 768 Kbps. There’s no way of setting it higher. And don’t think it’s because it’s the trial, because the manual says it’s 768 Kbps. That’s if you set it to the Music mode, there’s also a Film mode where you can choose between 448 and 768 Kbps.

To their credit, it doesn’t sound bad. But this is a project with over 100 tracks (I think like 130 or so), with around 30 tracks as objects. I didn’t use the 128 channels Atmos offers, but I used over 100.

So this shows you the amount of compression it does, even at 768 Kbps:

So we have an uncompressed master that is 7.67 GB, compressed down to 48.3 MB. I suck at math, but I think this is less than 1% the size of the master, isn’t it? I’m probably wrong.

Regardless, it’s not just lossy, it’s extremely lossy.

Finally, I’m still working on the learning project that I was mixing in stereo for months before I even tried the Atmos thing, but if you are familiar with Bear McCreary’s “Prelude to War”, you know it’s a very loud song for most of the 8 minutes and coins it lasts. Lots of Taiko drums and strings ostinatos. And I threw the kitchen sink at it, so it’s loud. Really loud. I mean, it doesn’t clip just because I have a limiter. But it’s in the red for most of the song.

Now, if you have a home theater, even a half decent one (I don’t mean the whole room sound proofed and all the stuff rich people have, I’m talking about a nice receiver and speakers), you’re familiar with the super annoying Dolby Dialnorm spec that makes everything encoded with Dolby sound really low, and then you play a CD and your speakers blow all the way to the stratosphere. Some cases are worse than others, but in my Pioneer receiver, it’s normal to have the dialog at -10 as far as the unit’s volume goes, and in many series and movies I have to turn it up all the way to 0, sometimes above that. All the Paramount+ stuff is like that, at least the Star Trek stuff and many others.

So when I copied the rendered MP4 to a USB stick and then played it in my Oppo 4K player, I had the volume at -20, thinking it was going to be loud. But I could barely hear anything. So I keep turning up the volume, and when I got to a volume that wasn’t even loud, but just loud enough to appreciate the music without disturbing the neighbors, the receiver was showing that the volume was at +5. If you know the Pioneer VSX-935 receiver, you know that +5 is insanity. Sure, CDs are loud, but I’m talking about music on Apple Music for example. Even the Atmos mixes on Apple Music are way louder than this. And trust me, there’s no way to set it to louder levels. I spent an hour going through every single part of that program.

So, to sum it up:

  • Very low bitrate
  • Only encodes to DD+ with Atmos as a file that you can actually play in consumer home theaters
  • Very low volume
  • It’s $300, which seems very steep for what you get

However, it looks really nice! You get the little balls that get brighter when the objects are playing!

But I guess I’m going to mix my stuff in good ol’ 5.1. Nothing against Dolby, I love Atmos, great tech, but give me a lossless encoder or close to it for that price.

Think of it in binaural, 5.1, 5.1.2, 7.1.2 terms or 6, 8 , and 10 tracks.
768 Kbps from the point of Bluetooth standard 2.4 GHz ISM spectrum band LDAC upto 990 kbps, AAC upto 320kbps, aptX HD upto 576kbps.
You are right about the dancing dots of light. :smiley:

BTW if you have a Pro Tools subscription the renderer is $99.

@MAS if you were not aware the ADM is NOT used for cinema DCP content. You can often send a ADM to a place that creates DCP masters (we do, and much more) , but the cinema Atmos audio package is also compressed but non destructively. The audio part of a DCP is much smaller than the ADM.

(Above is a bit simplified and devoid of correct nomenclature as I can’t remember right now).

That’s good for people who pay for that subscription, but I don’t have any desire or intention to switch to ProTools. If I was hired at some point by a company that forces me to use it, I’d be fine to, but unless I absolutely have to, I won’t use it. That’s my policy regarding Adobe as well. At some point specific industries have to get out of the vicious circle of we use ProTools because everybody uses ProTools, and you can replace ProTools with Adobe and others depending on the industry.

Sounds like you are just at the beginning of your journey. Here’s a few tips;

#1 The low bitrate is to accommodate streaming, of course. If you’re mixing Atmos for music, you should take that into account and limit use of objects. When encoded for streaming, everything gets “bounced” down to 16 objects, which includes the 10 bed channels. Again, plan accordingly and stay away from the misguided YouTube “experts” teaching post-production workflows to a music-production audience.

#2 If you need to encode to Blu-Ray, you need the Dolby Media Encoder product. HOWEVER, you said you want to mix for Atmos for music. Atmos for music is streaming only, so the mp4 is what you want for monitoring your mix, anyway.

#3 That low volume is how your music will be encoded by the streaming services. (-18 max int. loudness to account for track build-up when down mixed for binaural).

#4 I don’t think you appreciate the DAR yet. Besides Atmos production and rendering, there’s built-in speaker calibration tools, bass management, re-rendering downmixes, etc. etc. And many more features you cannot get in a DAW.

Good luck!

Well, I’m interested in learning both workflows, but YouTube has experts and some that aspire to be. But it is a great source for learning lots of things, if I had to figure out how to use these programs I’ve learned in the past two years including Cubase and Blender, I would be nowhere near the level of knowledge I have. Of course some of them are wrong, but I normally find what I’m looking for.

Yes, which I can only imagine must be impossible to regular people to afford, because you can’t even buy it on their website, it says “Access to this professional software requires that your company has a valid sales order contract.”

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how much it is? Not that I’m going to buy it, if the Atmos Renderer is $300, this one must be in the thousands, since it’s obviously not meant for individuals but for companies.

No offense, but that’s not technically correct. What you say applies to most music in Atmos, unfortunately. But there are a few music Blu-rays with a Dolby TrueHD with Atmos tracks, one of them the Dark Side of the Moon 50th anniversary. This is what Mediainfo tells me about that track, and don’t be fooled by the 448 kbps, that’s some nominal value the encoder put in the metadata for some reason, but see how the max bit rate is 8085 kbps, but when I put this disc in my Blu-ray player, at times it was getting to almost 10 mbps.

And there are a few more. But sadly, the people that rule the industry are making horrible decisions. It used to be that progress in technology was made available to everyone, at least everyone who could afford it. We have come to a point where we have the most amazing things to be able to listen to music in ways that allow us to appreciate the nuances and the separation of instruments, and being able to listen to things that until recently were lost in the shuffle because you can only do so much with two channels. Granted, most people don’t give a damn about even 5.1, they are happy with their headphones and earbuds.

But we could have all these masterpieces of music in these small discs that sound amazing and have all these channels to position instruments in a 3D space. But what does the industry do? Shrink the hell out of them to put them on streaming services where you have to pay every month to have access to. And don’t get me wrong, I think it’s awesome that those services exist. Before Apple Music and those services, if I wanted to listen to an album, I’d have to buy the CD or vinyl record. Even better, recently they started streaming lossless audio, in many cases also HD lossless audio for stereo.

But there are many albums out there that I want to own, not just stream. I want something tangible. But each year it’s harder and harder to find physical releases of new albums, at least for good music, when it comes to current popular music you still have them, but when it comes to film scores, they barely get released anymore. Some of them get released on overpriced vinyl, and vinyl may be great for some things, but it’s not for everything. It’s not for film scores, it’s a ridiculous format for that. The groove noise, which can be rather loud on soft passages which are common in film scores, or the pops and clicks. And the fact that a lot of the vinyl pressings since the vinyl fad started about ten years ago are absolute crap. I had to return about every album in the Genesis discography until I found decent ones, some of them up to three times. My pressing of Michael Giacchino’s “Star Trek Into Darkness” score is a calamity full of pops so loud that when I transferred it to my Mac I had to spend close to an hour fixing all the pops that were going almost all the way to 0 dB. But you play vinyl from the 80’s and there may be groove noise, but not a single loud pop.

And the biggest problem is not just that great albums don’t get released in physical formats anymore. It’s that you can’t get them in any lossless format, even barebones CD 16 bit 44.1 Khz. If you watched a movie that had a score that you loved and you want to buy it, look at the end of the credits. If it shows the logo from the label Hollywood Records, forget about getting it in a lossless format. It’s only iTunes, or Amazon Music or some other vendor of compressed music.

So all these masterpieces in film music are getting lost in time, because of Hollywood Records and other labels that won’t even give you a decent lossless downloadable file. On the other hand, now we have the choice of some film music being available in HiRes lossless audio that you can buy and download a file. I happen to prefer that because I own a Qudelix T71 and a pair of Audio Technica headphones that sound better than anything else I’ve ever had, and the detail is incredible. But you can only get some albums that way, not all of them.

So I just don’t get it, why do we have something as great as Dolby Atmos, that allows us to appreciate music in ways like never before, and we can’t get it in the best way possible, which is Blu-rays encoded in Dolby TrueHD with Atmos? I just don’t get it. Like I don’t get why Dolby wouldn’t make these tools more affordable to everyone, even people who don’t work in the industry, so everyone can learn these tools.

This post is already too long, so I will spare its readers from a long rant about Dolby and their idiotic reference levels, but suffice it to say, I’m sick of that. Why does everything encoded in Dolby has to be so low? I mean, you want to encode with 1,000 dB of dynamic range for movie theaters? Fine. But most people don’t live alone in the middle of the forest without another house for 20 kilometers. Almost nobody can watch movies with the dynamic range that comes in movies. And the few that really love alone in the middle of nowhere, there are other things to consider, like hearing damage. Hell, every time I watch an action movie I have to grab the remote like 15 times to raise the volume for dialog, then lower it when the loud action sequences start. One time I said f**k it, I’m not gonna touch the remote. I was watching “The Dark Knight”. I set the volume for dialog and left it there. You know what happened? About 90 minutes into the movie, my center channel speaker’s tweeter got destroyed.

So I don’t know who came up with these ridiculous reference levels, but they need to do something about it before more speakers get blown to smithereens!! :rofl:

Wait a minute! That’s it! It’s a conspiracy from the speaker makers so people buy speakers every time they watch a loud movie!! :joy: :sweat_smile:

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So true. This is exactly the reason why I completely avoid any surplus Dolby Objects when mixing music. We have great panning- and positioning devices in all modern DAWs, and specialized 3rd-party tools like MIR 3D. Discrete 7.1.4 (or even 5.1.4) is an absolutely valid format for music (!) production, which also allows most proven techniques for the mix bus and does not require pointless data throughputs for good sound.

The primary advantage to object mixing I have found is that there is no decibel “bump” as the object moves between the halfway point between front and side speakers, and side to rear speakers. (which was always the big thing to watch out for in surround mixing.) So if you want to “fly things around the room” like a carnival ride, then objects should be your go-to. Lol

Beware the .4 as well. Fold downs to .2 or stereo can be messy (think about the 95% of listeners who will be hearing the .4 and rear surrounds mixed together in their two side speakers or earbuds). And folks who “pin” reverb and whatnot to the corners of the room, in their quest to create a ubiquitous mix, are actually creating a empty hole in the middle of the ceiling for the rare birds with .6 set-ups. (Those trying to beat that set-back with a .6 object bed fall into the “fold down” trap previously mentioned - a potentially worse scenario, depending on the mix.)

I get great results with a 5.x or 7.x bed for the lower layer plus four fixed “zero-width” Objects for the upper. The music I mix rarely has any need for the proverbial “flying cows”, and if it does I could indeed still resort to an additional Object (but I hardly ever so). - And as I have yet to meet more than the three people I personally know up to now with x.x.6-setups (opposed to the usual x.x.2 or x.x.4) I’m quite relaxed about possible holes in the ceiling. :wink:

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I have seen an engineer or two bring in those .4 objects “off the wall” a bit. I’m guessing it’s to alleviate those concerns (to a degree - the middle of the .6 would still be noticeably quieter).
With 5.1 and 5.1.2 being by far the most prevalent immersive speaker formats, we each pick our own poison when it comes to mixing content into the heights…

I’m sorry, bring in all the hatred you want, but mixing music in Dolby Atmos is a bag of hurt. After converting a large project to both Atmos and 5.1, 5.1 to me wins hands down. I’m not saying this is the case for everyone. If you own a studio and can afford all the equipment required to be able to mix in Atmos, and you don’t mind that your mix is going to be decimated to 768 Kbps for online streaming, great for you.

But for someone who wants to make music and make it sound amazing, with sounds coming from all directions, being able to put strings over there, and over there, without being constrained to just 2 channels, 5.1 is far better.

Sound quality wise, the Atmos mix was very unimpressive. It may have some instruments coming from my height speakers, but other than that, it feels flat and not very powerful. Being this one of Bear McCreary’s songs from BSG that are very heavy on Taiko drums, and my mockup having several tracks of Taiko drums, it’s not easy to make it sound so flat. But it seems to me that the Dolby Atmos Renderer encodes tracks at a lower volume than whatever they use for Apple Music. That’s low, but not this low.

Besides, mixing in 5.1 is a breeze. It’s the same as stereo, but you have more space to place your instruments. But you work exactly the same way as far as groups, busses and so on. The Atmos mixing is a royal pain in comparison. You have to deal with beds and objects and the plugins that support Atmos have to be put in a FX track that has to be turned into an object track because of some mysterious reason, you can’t put them in the main bus because they work as stereo.

Added to this, the more objects you create, the more buggy it gets. About 5 times I opened the project and I got this message that some Atmos object tracks didn’t have IDs assigned to them, but I knew that all of them had IDs. In fact, after fixing that, then the next day I had the same error. Eventually I was able to render the ADM, but I can’t play that ADM anywhere that I can listen to the music. At best I get no sound at all, and at worst I get a loud digital garbage noise.

To be able to listen to it, I would have to pay Dolby $300, and the resulting file sounds quite awful. Because I may not have the gear to monitor Dolby Atmos fully, but I can still monitor the 5.1 in that mix, and I can monitor the Atmos objects, just not coming out of the Atmos speakers. And all the fine tuning I did goes out the window when listening to the final Atmos mix encoded with the Dolby Atmos Renderer.

But I export the 5.1 version of same project to a WAV file, I put it on a USB stick, put it on any player and it plays perfectly, with the sound levels being the same as when I was working on it, not 20 dB lower to comply with some ridiculous levels that make everything sound low as hell.

While I would like to have the objects and the 2 extra speakers, I’d rather put my music in a high quality file that will still have surround sound and anyone can play just fine. The reality is that all those mixes in Dolby Atmos that I listen to in Apple Music sound thin. At times I can tell some instruments coming out of the front height speakers, but still, overall, they sound worse than their stereo lossless counterparts.

Dolby Atmos could be a great thing, but they ruined it by making it too difficult to mix, but most of all, they hold back the tools to get something that you can listen to in the type of gear that most people are going to, meaning, not studio setups, unless you pay $300 for an MP4 encoder that will crush that master to oblivion and make it sound far worse than your project.

Whereas if I want to mix in 5.1 or even 7.1 I can export that file as WAV, AIFF, Flac and maybe some other format, and even if I can just export the WAV, I can convert that to other surround codecs from there.

So call me a hater if you want, I do not hate Dolby or Atmos, I enjoy it when it’s in its TrueHD form, and it can be done well. My Hans Zimmer Live in Prague Blu-ray is proof of that. But this streaming crippled Atmos that you get from their $300 encoder, thanks, but no, thanks.