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7.1.4 with ProTools Ultimate?


I'm new to not just ProTools and the Atmos Renderer but sound production in general. So apologies in advance if I'm using any incorrect/confusing terms.

I am making field recordings using the Rode NT-SF1 Sound Field microphone with the intention of producing audio files for the home theatre using Pro Tools Ultimate with Atmos Production Suite. So far so good with 7.1.2 but I'm perplexed as to how to do the same with 7.1.4.

The Rode Soundfield plugin is capable of outputting all 12 channels for 7.1.4 and this is something I can use with Reaper just fine (e.g. export 12 separate mono tracks). However, in ProTools it seems I am limited to just 7.1.2. I've read here (or perhaps elsewhere) that ProTools' buses (or Renderer's beds or both - I don't recall exactly) are limited to 7.1.2 but that seems quite surprising for a professional DAW. Is it simply not possible to create 7.1.4 experiences using Pro Tools and Atmos renderer without resorting to objects?

If this is indeed impossible, then should I switch to Nuendo I wonder?

Many thanks,


This is a design decision not of Pro Tools but of the Atmos system. 7.1.4 as an output channel configuration is fine but when it comes to building a scalable system then it becomes very limiting. Dolby Atmos mixes can scale upward as well as downward to ensure compatibility with the speaker configuration of a particular playback environment. With the .2 for the overheads the choices are simple; the first of those goes to the whole of the left overhead array in a movie theatre, the center overhead speaker in a .6 overhead config at home or phantoms between the two left overheads in a .4 speaker output configuration. If the bed became .4 then in a movie theatre with 7 overhead speakers or more, which speakers would be chosen to playback the first of that .4 bed? Just the front left most overhead? A pairing? Some other combination? It becomes unwieldy to render and more limiting during content creation. None of the DAWs can create a 7.1.4 bed without using objects because Dolby does not allow a 7.1.4 bed as a valid input to the Renderer. In some it is easier to create a 7.1.4 path as you note Nuendo as an example. However when sending the .4 to the Renderer it MUST contain at least 4 objects so that you as a content creator define the locations where those 4 channels are decoded within the available speakers in a room. If they should decode to the corners, to a location that bisects left and center lines with left and left side surround etc. By limiting the bed configuration we ‘force’ you to decant define how your soundfield should be created going into the Renderer and then on the backend deal with representing that intent to the best of the system receiving its ability. Hope that helps.

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I could not have asked for a clearer explanation. Thank you so much for that :)

Hello again. I have a follow-up question if I may.

The plugin for my ambiosonic microphone allows me to generate (using Reaper) each of the 12 tracks for 7.1.4. As discussed above, Renderer doesn't support a 7.1.4 bed (even if ProTools allowed it) but it does seem a shame to lose those rear-left-upper and rear-right-upper parts as it's useful for creating a strong sense of overhead sounds behind the listener.

I'm wondering; is it viable to map those two "missing" channels to two static mono objects directly? Or would mapping them to objects create too much of a localised sound to be useful?

Thanks again

Yes absolutely. There’s a bunch of examples like this. Works really well.

Thanks Ceri, that's good to know. Is there any formula to placing those two objects? The plugin places those channels at 45 degrees above horizontal and 30 degrees left and right of center (rear) so presumably matching that is a good starting point?

I hope you don't mind me raising a second completely unrelated question but reCAPTCHA seems to be broken right now and I can't create a new thread:

Atmos Renderer has an option to export mp4 which is vital for my application as the file size is considerably smaller than the various wav formats and it needs to be played on portable consumer devices. That there is a (blank) video track is slightly problematic and ideally I'd be able to supply something to the end user that's pure audio only. Better still in a format that allows for album art.

Is this possible? From various attempts at generating ac3 files with ffmpeg I get the impression it's impossible to remove the video track whilst still maintaining all the required Atmos meta data.

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