The future of how we listen to music looks increasingly likely to be in immersive audio, after a report by Dolby claimed a growing rise in the amount of big name acts offering their music in its Atmos format.
As reported by Music Ally, during a company financial earnings call (opens in new tab) earlier this week Dolby CEO Kevin Yeaman revealed to investors: “We have two-thirds of the top 100 Billboard artists that have one or more songs available in Dolby Atmos,”
Yeoman also highlighted how Atmos was now also beginning to be adopted in live music situations, highlighting R’n’B star Usher’s recent residency at the MGM venue in Las Vegas which featured 3D audio mixes.
A quick look at the latest album chart appears to back up Yeaman’s claim. New albums from big name acts such as Harry Styles, Lizzo and Megan Thee Stallion have all been released in Dolby Atmos in recent weeks, indicating that multi-channel mixes well may be on their way to becoming the norm for major label acts.
Apple Music last year became the latest major streaming service to offer a sizeable library of classic and new music in Dolby Atmos, following in the footsteps of rivals Amazon Music and Tidal which also offer select releases in the hi-res, multi-channel format.
The news from Dolby came as high-end music-streaming service Qobuz announced they had teamed up with THX to offer tracks in the company’s new 24-bit THX Spatial Audio format.
Three tracks featuring THX Spatial Audio from Circuit des Yeux, Dinosaur Jr and Anat Cohen have so far been released on the service, with the special 3D audio mixes aiming to offer listeners the impression of being in the same space as the performers.
According to Qobuz, no specific pair of headphones are needed to experience the tracks in THX Spatial Audio, with all three songs available now to subscribers (opens in new tab).
Analysis: Immersive audio’s time may finally have come
While dismissed by many Hi-Fi heads as a gimmick, the rise of 3D audio now appears undeniable.
The move by Apple Music last year to start offering a wide-ranging library in its proprietary Spatial Audio music streaming format appears to have opened the floodgates.
No longer just an exercise in breathing new life into classic albums by heritage acts, it’s now becoming unusual for new albums by contemporary major label acts not to be available to stream in Atmos, with a growing number of artists also now offering one-off recordings made especially for surround sound.
Adoption of the format has further been helped along by Apple with its support for Spatial Audio across much of its hardware including AirPods and iPhones, while a recent update to its industry-standard Logic Audio recording software has made rendering mixes in Atmos for producers a much easier affair.
Spotify remains a 3D audio hold-out, but with most of its rivals now offering Atmos (leading Chinese streaming service QQ Music notably started offering music in the immersive audio format last month), and growing interest in immersive music from both artists and audiences, the world’s leading music platform may soon need to change its tune.