Dolby Atmos Renderer

Joe Grasso discusses Dolby Atmos technology and artist reactions

As technological advances continue in sound production and engineering equipment, artists, producers, and fans must adjust to the changing landscape and listening experience. Now esteemed engineer Joe Grasso discusses the new frontier of mixing music and how Dolby Atmos technology is impacting artists and his role in the music world.

With a resume that includes mixing over 3,000 albums in Dolby Atmos, Grasso certainly understands the technology and how it can advance sound reproduction. Unfortunately, he has noticed a consistent discrepancy for artists in the time between when they approve a mix and when it gets released via Apple Music:

I mixed over 3,000 albums in Dolby Atmos. So I’ll give you a best case and worst case scenario. Best case scenario. We mix something in the room, the artist comes in the room, they hear it and they approve it, and they go home and if they want to hear a copy at home, we render out an MP4 and send it to them. And they hear and they can approve it in headphones if they want. And it sounds just like what they heard and it goes on Apple Music and everything is great.

Of course, that is only the first half of the process. Joe Grasso continues to detail the post-release concerns here:

When it does get released on Apple Music, they don’t like what they [are] hearing, ​ we’re going backwards because what they heard in the room didn’t match the experience on the headphones.

The integration to Dolby Atmos was further discussed by engineer Ariel Borujow, who discusses the importance of not only big artists but labels and A&Rs getting excited about the new technology:

I think for a lot of the artists right now there still is a big mystery about Atmos. So getting them excited about it and to care about it as much as stereo is different. They know they can check stereo in the car and they know what to expect everywhere. I think, right now, really getting them to be comfortable with what’s on Apple Music is key. So I think doing this with the bigger artists who you know, mostly would say ‘I don’t care, I don’t care’. It’s not only helping speed up the approval process, but it’s actually helping us get approvals that we wouldn’t have otherwise gotten or would have gone to A&R rather than artist so that connection with the artist is great

Credits: Dolby Atmos

Avid music fan, and avid music producer! Producer and songwriter for NOHC.