What is Dolby Atmos, DTS:X, and Immersive Audio?

Immersive Audio has made a huge splash in the industry since its release, and it’s popularity has only grown since. Initially reserved for large cinemas, Immersive Audio can now be found in common consumer and mobile devices for less than $200. What’s more, Immersive Audio has re-shaped how we experience music in both live and home settings, with a huge stream of classic albums being re-mixed for streaming services like Apple Music in Immersive formats. Furthermore, popular video streaming services like Netflix and HBO now require Immersive Audio mixes as a deliverable, making it essential for studios all over the world to update their mix rooms for Immersive Audio to stay on the cutting edge.

Westlake Pro has been at the forefront of this development, and we’ve helped studios large and small perfect their Immersive Audio setups for both Music and Post-Production.

If you’re still unfamiliar with the basics of Immersive Audio, this series will be the perfect place for you to get started. You can even schedule a private consultation with Westlake Pro to help you through the process of upgrading your studio today.


Platforms & Setup

What is Dolby Atmos and DTS:X?

Now that we know what immersive audio is, let’s take a look at the industry’s two leading formats, Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. Both are excellent platforms to create immersive audio and are featured in your favorite major motion pictures. Dolby Atmos was released a little before DTS:X, premiering on the 2012 Disney/Pixar animated hit, Brave. It was the first movie ever to use an object-based mix, and it was made with a Dolby Atmos setup.

Dolby Atmos and DTS:X each have their own mixing platforms that will feel natural to anyone who is familiar with DAW interfaces, respectively called Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite and DTS:X Creator Suite. In each, you’ll find a movie theater modeled as a rectangular box. This makes positioning elements in the 3D space easy and intuitive. Engineers simply add sound elements where they want using a drag and drop interface, and the software seamlessly bundles the sound element and its X, Y, Z metadata into an object. Then the Atmos (or DTS:X) software decodes the object for playback.

Positioning sound objects in Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite.

Positioning sound objects with DTS:X Creator Suite.

Controlling Space

Both Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite and DTS:X Creator Suite offer highly intuitive interfaces for placing and moving discrete sound elements. Regardless of the speaker configuration, the immersive audio software will, using the Dolby Atmos screenshot (above) for example, play the “SFX Object 1” sound element in the X, Y, and Z space indicated by the yellow ball. The important thing to note is that your Dolby Atmos or DTS:X mix will sound the same whether it’s played back in Dolby Atmos theaters or at home on a sound bar without the need for a separate mix. This would not be possible with a traditional, channel-based mix. But with object-based audio, it’s done with simple mouse clicks while the software handles all the heavy lifting.

DTS:X and Dolby Atmos Setup

DTS:X and Dolby Atmos both deliver high-quality immersive audio, which you can fully appreciate when experiencing them at the movies. The Dolby Atmos setup is slightly different than DTS:X because Atmos-certified theaters require ceiling speakers for effect; DTS:X does not require overhead speakers. Another minor difference is that Atmos supports 128 discrete sound objects and DTS:X supports an unlimited number of objects, but it’s unclear if mixes truly need more than 128 objects, especially when it comes to mixing music in Atmos. So the choice of going with a DTS:X or Dolby Atmos setup (or both) will come down to the individual needs of a mixing studio and their clients.  

Dolby Atmos Mastering Suite and DTS:X Creator Suite are powerful tools that have become must-haves for post-production facilities, and both are available at Westlake Pro. If you’d like to get a hands-on demo of a DTS:X or Dolby Atmos setup, contact us for a personalized tour. One of our immersive audio experts will schedule a product tour and answer all your questions so you can choose the 3D authoring suite that’s right for you and your studio. Click here to contact us now.

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