Outside The Box: Apple's Atmos Push and What It Means for Music

Published 3 months ago • 1 min read

Hey, Reader, it's Jerome -

Is Apple Music’s Atmos Initiative a Game Changer?

In the past year, Apple has been steering its platform firmly towards Atmos technology.
They've even announced that songs without an Atmos mix won't feature in their official curated playlists.

More recently, they've upped the stake by suggesting higher royalty rates for releases with an Atmos mix.

This move is unprecedented in the streaming world and raises questions about accessibility, especially for independent artists. While an Atmos mix is typically cheaper than the original stereo mix, the financial return on Apple might not always make sense for some artists, unless Apple starts to focus heavily on promoting Atmos-enabled tracks.

So, why is Apple betting big on Atmos?

The clues lie in Apple’s ecosystem. Apple isn’t just about streaming; it’s a hardware giant, with products like the AirPods Pro & Max featuring spatial audio capabilities. They’re aiming to provide an exclusive "Apple-Only" experience.

Though not perfect, the AirPods Pro & Max make Atmos, or more precisely, spatial audio, fairly accessible to anyone now! And I believe that’s a key driver for Apple Music’s push into Atmos.

And since last Friday, Apple has added another layer to this, with their new product: Vision Pro.

While the idea of mixing in a VR environment is captivating, the real excitement lies in combining this with Atmos or spatial audio. It hints at a new, multi-dimensional experience for Apple enthusiasts.

Let's demystify Atmos and Spatial Audio

In simple terms, Atmos is an advanced surround system that adds height and elevation to audio.

Atmos isn't new. It first came in cinemas, then transitioned into the video game world, and now it's trying to make its place in music.

More versatile than its predecessor, the 5.1 surround, Atmos introduces a game-changing feature: algorithmic downmixing. This capability allows it to adapt seamlessly to both larger and smaller setups, theoretically scaling even down to mono.

Spatial audio in all this is essentially a virtual simulation of Atmos but tailored for a personal experience using just a pair of headphones.

However, are we ready to move beyond stereo with Atmos becoming a new standard? Not at all. Our world still relies on mono sound in many places.

So, Atmos is not redefining standards, it certainly offers a new listening experience, as Apple is pushing towards.

In the coming years, we'll likely see an explosion of new experiences combining VR with Atmos/spatial audio. Some companies are already working on products and concepts, and some are quite exciting!

Anyway, you know where to find me!

Best,
Jerome

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