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7.1.4 mixing with parallel overheads

Hi, I'm from Mumbai, India and we have built a new 7.1.4 HE mix room with Protools 2018.12 ultimate and Qsc passive speakers and amps for near field atmos mix. I have been playing around with Protools and Dolby atmos production suite and have noticed that even though Protools allows max 7.1.2 as beds (ltf and ltr being a stereo pair and rtf and rtr being a stereo pair), the Production suite allows 7.1.4 mixing with 7.1.2 bed renders and moving sound individually in the 4 overheads. In my setup, the ltf and ltr are setup in a parallel mode in their amp so any sound fed to one of them, plays in both speakers. Similarly for rtf and rtr. In Protools io setup bus page, i have changed the default Atmos template quad overhead assignment to stereo. To be able to pan a Sound in the overheads and use all 4 speakers individually, should i remove the parallel mode in the overhead speaker amps? If i do that then my 7.1.2 beds will only play from 2 overheads - ltf and rtf or ltr and rtr. Please help on how I can use stereo overheads in the bed while also maintaining individuality when moving objects. Regards Rigveda

Someone from Dolby can comment with more expertise, but in my opinion, you should wire those (4) ceiling speakers separately. Standard Pro Tools bed panning is sort of vague-sounding, so if you really want precise locations on the ceiling, you will want to be in object mode, which can address those speakers separately.

Thanks for suggestion
Thanks @reichman. I had posted same query under Mastering Suite forum and Dolby person replied and addressed my queries quite well. I have changed my speaker wiring settings to make them individual.

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Hello Rigveda!

Sorry for our late reply.

yes, you should wire the four overhead speakers separately. 

The Dolby Atmos Production Suite takes care of  distributing your audio to the speakers.

Audio that is routed to a BED Overhead channel (for example: Left Top) will be played from both the respective front- and rear overhead speaker.

Audio that is routed as an OBJECT can adress each overhead speaker individually.

How do you access the Height channels individually using an object in Pro Tools Ultimate?

On my Airtel xstream box

Hello Leslie: not totally sure I understand your question, but while you're in object mode, you should be able to park the object on one speaker by ear. It won't show up as a location in the panner (and it shouldn't since speakers are abstract now).

(love True Detective btw. Congrats)


Thanks so much for the reply Nathaniel!  I am not sure how to "park" the sound.  I am only familiar with the panner and as you know the Pro Tools panner doesn't access the height speakers separately from front to back.  Where else in the object track can I steer the sound?

Perhaps its a limitation of Atmos or a feature of Atmos, but you really can't tell the panner to go to a specific speaker (maybe 'park' was the wrong word- if I understand you correctly). The idea is that you're panning to an abstract location on the ceiling, and there might be 2 or 10 speakers on the ceiling. I've moved a few Atmos mixes from smaller rooms to larger ones, and was very happy to hear the system just automatically use available speakers. One of the most educational experiences I had the very first time I was in a good Atmos room was panning dialog around in bed mode, and then in object mode.

If you bypass Atmos and use Pro Tools alone to pan to a 7.1.4 loudspeaker system, you will never get to those last two ceiling speakers. It simply can't do it. It will always be vague-sounding. With Atmos, you can get to those additional speakers. I was annoyed when Avid released the version of Pro Tools that only went as wide as 7.1.2. But that was before I understood that that's not really a problem. Work in object mode to unlock super-specific panning locations.

OK I'm working in Object mode and that's going fine.  But I'm having trouble understanding why someone would want to mix in regular output mode or why you would want to automate the switch between the 2 modes?

Hello Leslie: I am waiting for one of the Dolby guys and gals here to respond to your queries with more expertise than I have, but I'll do my best until then.

When I did my initial listening, I learned something critical about objects. Try taking a good stereo recording of a string quartet or string section, and pan them somewhere pleasing as 2 sources (left and right). They should sound natural and full of life in bed mode, but when you switch to object mode, you may hear what I heard, which was a timbral shift that I chalked up to the psychoacoustic trickery that is going on with super exact 3D panning. In other words, not everything sounds good as objects! Some sources benefit, but some sources can be degraded as objects. Let me know if that helps answer your question. And let me know what you're hearing.

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That's a very interesting conclusion @Nathaniel!

I was experimenting the last days with the same thing: how do instruments sound panned as objects or panned in beds, and started to listening to some differences to take into account.

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