Humans have evolved to perceive sounds coming from all around them in space, and how our ears and brains work together to determine the position of a sound is a product of this evolution. Our experiences and expectations also influence how we make sense of our sonic surroundings. With an understanding of some key aspects of how we localize sounds, you can more fully take advantage of the immersive creative possibilities afforded by Dolby Atmos

Some things you may want to consider when mixing in Atmos:

  • We perceive sounds that are higher in frequency as more likely to originate from above us than below.
  • It also follows that sounds with more low frequency content are more likely to be perceived as originating from lower positions
  • Lower frequency sounds are also less directional than those with higher frequency content. For instance, panning a bass sound around a room may not produce dramatic spatial effects, whereas a percussive sound with a broader frequency spectrum that includes some high frequency information, like a wood block, is likely to produce a more dramatic effect.
  • We are more likely to be able to perceive changes in the height of a sound if it has pronounced 4kHz-8kHz spectral content.
  • As listeners and mixers we have been trained by stereo for over 50 years that the sound field exists in front of us. With Atmos you can now consider not only left/right balance as in stereo, but also front-to-back balance. Placing sounds behind the listener to complement or contrast what is happening in front of them can highlight the 3D sound field made possible by Dolby Atmos.
  • As with front-to-back balance, try experimenting with layering sounds from top to bottom.
  • Intermittent sounds can provide important spatial cues, for instance a lead vocal positioned in front of the listener with responding backing vocals placed behind the listener.
  • Sounds that are positioned off center from the listener's head provide more spatial information. Try positioning objects to the left or right of the listeners head and then moving them from front to back, higher and lower.