New York, NY (November 7, 2023)—Engineers face numerous challenges during the final stages of mixing for Apple’s Spatial Audio platform, not least of which is the approval process.
Engineers typically have to render an Atmos mix to an MP4 file, then upload it and listen back on a phone to more accurately reproduce how it will sound on the binaural streaming platform. Unless an artist is onsite however, getting them to hear that file can be a challenge.
“[T]he MP4 process is really cumbersome for an artist,” said Joe Grasso, a Grammy-nominated, multi-platinum engineer who has completed more than 1,000 Atmos mixes. “If they’re on the road and they’re really busy, we send them an MP4 file and tell them ‘save it to a file folder and you gotta go to your files and then drag down and make sure it’s ready, but if it doesn’t work, you gotta restart your phone.’ And you know, they’re like, ‘We don’t care anymore.’ We lose artists in that MP4 approval process.”
Speaking during a recent demo of Audiomovers’ Binaural Renderer for Apple Music at Republic Studios in New York, he noted that the plug-in aids the QC and artist approval processes by allowing a listener to hear how a Dolby Atmos session audio will sound on Apple Music after having passed through the platform’s processing chain—while still in the DAW. When combined with the Listento Pro plug-in to stream from the engineer’s DAW and allow real-time, collaborative QC and approval, Grasso said, “It’s a really seamless process.
“I think what this [plug-in] solution kind of solves now is we can mix something, and I could send it to an artist wherever they are, to their headphones.” For the artist, he said, there are no longer any surprises when they hear the immersive mix for the first time on Apple’s streaming platform when it’s released on Friday morning.
Ariel Borujow, whose credits include working with Sean ‘Puffy’ Combs, concurred, stating, “[H]aving the ability to just check the Apple mix real fast and say yes, rather than testing it, the MP4 and the phone and then checking the binaural render versus the MP4 and hearing the room, it’s eliminating a lot of steps.”