Questions regarding dolby atmos mixing

Hi there
I’m getting into mixing for dolby atmos and I have a couple of questions. I would very much appreciate advice and help from more seasoned users.

I setup a basic project with a 7.1.4 output channel, standard bed group channel and a couple instrument channels routed as objects.

My first question is: What is the correct way to monitor the atmos mix using headphones (binaural)? Should the renderer be set to Downmix=7.1.4 and in the control room the stereo downmix preset be used? Or should the renderer be set to downmix=binaural and the control room preset stereo be used? I monitored the output of the renderer set to binaural directly (without control room) and it sounds quite differently from when monitoring through the control (with stereo preset) and the renderer set to 7.1.4.

Second: I get that most instruments should be sent as objects to the renderer. Are beds (for music mixes) mostly used for reverbs/delays? Bonus question: Do you have links to a more profound explanation of beds vs objects in music mixes?

Third question: I do work quite a bit with Ambisonic recordings. What is the best way to import these recordings into the mix? Should they be converted to 7.1.4. mixes first and then sent to the standard bed?

Fourth question: I have projects mixed in ambisonics. Is there a way to convert these mixes to dolby atmos directly?

Finally: Is there a list which plugins in Nuendo support which channel configuration? Some plugins such as “Compressor” seem to support dolby atmos, others such as “Frequency” only seem to support stereo configuration.

Thanks a lot for your help, it’s much appreciated!

So I answered the bonus question: A very profound explanation of all things can be found in the dolby atmos learning center.

So Micheal Wagner actually has a video on just the topic of ambisonics to Atmos. Basically you need to set up an Atmos mix and do a 7.1.2 bed, then 2 more object channels for the back speakers. You can then split up the signal and map it. I’ve not tried it but it all makes sense how he shows it.

Converting Ambisonics to Dolby Atmos Part 2: The Ultimate Cubase Tutorial - YouTube

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Hi Tajika,
about Frequency: only M/S processing is restricted to a stereo configuration. The plug-in itself is capable of multi channel setups.


That video by Michael Wagner looks promising, definitively gonna watch this. Thanks!

Hi Andreas
That’s strange. When I open Frequency on a 7.1.4. track, it only connects two channels, all the other are bypassed. It works fine on a Ambisonics track though.

regarding beds vs. objects: This seems to be kind of can of worms for music. It seems that depending on the coding used, there’s less bitrate for the objects than for the beds.
See post no 3 in this thread.

Then there seem to be problems with apple music: it uses its own decoder rather than the dolby atmos decoder. Since it ignores the space settings of the binaural encoder, it’s unpredictable how your mix sounds on apple music.

After going down the rabbit hole of all that is Dolby Atmos… I think I’m going to tap out on it for awhile and see where things go. Right now it just seems like a mess. Since most people are listening on headphones the quality of the binauralization is key and it sounds like Apple’s is not very good at all. Then there’s the mess that is Dolby licensing on top of it and how they don’t seem to want to let you make MP4s unless you own a Mac (and pay them). Then there’s the bitrate/quality issues for objects and… ya.

I think I’ll stick to playing with (channel based) surround sound for now and see how things shake out with Atmos. I have a feeling it may be a very temporary fad for music that will fade away, and just keep being used for movies.

Hi there, I think my video should answer nearly all questions but if you don’t want to watch through it all (understandable), there are links to my Discord which contains templates for various setups.

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Thanks for all the contributions so far, that’s very helpful. I watched all the vids and they help understand the technology. Things seem to still be evolving at the moment for music mixes. The biggest challenge probably is Apple using their own decoder which makes it impossible to know how you mix will sound on Apple music. The latest Logic update features a plugin which allows to use the Apple decoder. Here’s hoping that Steinberg will come up with a similar solution.

Regarding monitoring: Of course, the dolby atmos renderer needs to be set to “binaural” and the control room downmix preset set to “stereo”. A headphone is required to hear the binaural mix. When setting the renderer to 7.1.4 and the control room to stereo, the multichannel mix is downmixed to stereo but not to binaural.

Beds vs objects: It seems that it’s currently safer to use beds for mixing, as they have more bandwith than objects (in some codecs). Beds also have the advantage that you can have multichannel buses. You could thus have a multichannel drums bus which you can eq and compress. Objects are limited to mono (stereo in Nuendo). Ojects don’t have acces to the lfe (though there’s a workaround for that).

[Edit: I found out that Nuendo turns a 7.1.4 bus (e.g. drums bus) into 11 objects, thus a 7.0.4 bus. Thus you can use buses with objects. Quite amazing!].

Converting ambisoncs to dolby atmos is easy, but you have to jump through hoops to get all the top channels into the mix, since dolby atmos beds only have a 7.1.2 configuration. Best ressource is the tutorial posted by Sycraft-w.

Regarding Steinberg plugins supporting multichannel tracks: Most seem to support multichannel tracks just fine. Exceptions are the reverbs and Frequency. @andreasm mentioned that Frequency should be 7.1.4. too, so maybe that’s a bug? I can’t set it to 7.1.4. in my test project but it works on single layers such as the middle layer, top layer. You probably don’t want to eq all channels at the same time anyway. Reverence works up to 6.0, Relevation up to Quadro, it seems. It would be great to have information on the surround capabilities in the plugin reference manual. Of course, you can always combine multiple stereo reverbs to a full 7.1.4 reverb.

I have a bunch of third party plugs, which seem to connect to all channels, but only process the first two channels or nothing at all. The newly updated PSP plugs behave like this. Fabfilter Pro-Q and Pro-L work great up to 7.1.4, Pro-C is only stereo.

PS: Is it possible to change the name of the thread? Questions regarding dolby atmos mixing IN MUSIC would be more appropriate.

@Phil_Pendlebury Thanks for that excellent vid. I think I am finally starting to get a handle on what’s involved in Atmos production. I’m probably going to wait until things shake out more (I’m just a hobbyist) but it is good to get an understanding of how it all works.

Something you, and others, who are in the “headphones for monitoring” crowd might want to look at it dearVR Monitor. I picked it up before I understood about how you could do the Atmos → Ambisonics → Binaural conversion and, for me, it is by far the most convincing binauralization (in plugin form at least). In particular what I like to test is soloing channels and seeing how well it actually sounds like it is coming from a speaker. It nails it IMO. It does a direct 7.1.4 (or any other speaker config) to binaural conversion, no need for ambisonics encoding.

Not sure it is worth retail price, but I got it on sale for like $100 and for that price it is 100% worth it so might be worth keeping an eye out for sales. Only thing it doesn’t do is head tracking, unless you use it with a VR headset, which I’ve picked at them about but so far they don’t seem to want to add it.


Yes I have Dear VR and NX and all the other tools. (In fact on my channel you can see some reviews of NX and on my Discord are templates for that too).

This video was a livestream in association with Steinberg. For those, I try to stay away from using anything from other manufacturers.

Cheers. P.

I can confirm, that it’s a bug.
I Just made an entry into our bug base


Thanks for reporting the bug. It’s great to know that Frequency is able to fully process 7.1.4 channels.