Spatial Audio Coming To Logic Pro

Apple recently announced that it is making their entire catalog of more than 75 million songs available in Lossless Audio, and also introduced Spatial Audio, with support for Dolby Atmos.

Spatial Audio is an immersive experience, designed to create the effect of sounds not just panned left to right, but placed in space all around you.

Now they’ve announced that they’re building immersive music-authoring tools directly into Logic Pro. With the update, set to be released ‘later this year,’ Logic Pro users will be able to create and mix songs in Spatial Audio for Apple Music.

“Of course, stereo will always exist — no one is coming in and canceling stereo, just like they didn’t cancel mono,” notes Apple Music’s Zane Lowe. “I’ve got a lot of mono records in my collection, and they sound great because they were designed to be heard in mono. Music that was designed to be heard in stereo will sound incredible in stereo like it always has. But now music will find its way to a Spatial environment. It’s not about the end of anything, it’s about the beginning of something new.”

Over the years, there have been multiple technologies designed to create enveloping musical experiences that go beyond stereo, ranging from Quadraphonic to Surround to Ambisonic. They’ve remained fairly niche technologies, though, because of the chicken-and-egg combination of a small audience of users and limited number of releases. Apple’s Spatial Audio could be a more interesting option for musicians to target, because it will be the default format for a huge number of devices, including the built-in speakers on current iPhones, iPads and Macs, their HomePod line, and AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip.

“Dolby Atmos…is going to do for music what HD did for television,” states Apple’s Eddy Cue, senior vice president of Internet Software and Services. “Today, where can you watch television that’s not in HD?”

“One of the advantages music has over television is you can’t take an old TV show and truly up-res it to HD, because it was shot on low-quality cameras. But in the case of audio, all these things were recorded on multiple tracks, and so it’s possible to go back to a lot of the songs and be able to do this,” he adds.

Are you interested in mixing for Spatial Audio? Share your thoughts in the comments!

26 thoughts on “Spatial Audio Coming To Logic Pro

  1. This is wonderful now artist like me can go beyond the stereo format. My new halloween album is going to be fun to make with this technology. i am happy making an very creepy immersive audio work. Thanks apple and dolby

    1. Yes. Now you can also narrow down your audience to the people that own an Apple idevice that is less than three years old in combination with airpods pro or those ludicrously overpriced over ears headphones. That must feel liberating.

      1. and lets not forget that your music being played on all those really expensive toys, will earn you peanuts because of the way artists are remunerated by apple and other platforms like them

        1. all streaming platforms do not pay artist proper. Ascap and Bmi do not pay artist for internet performances. So over the pandemic all american musicians on the internet got ripped off!

          and I love my music to be played on really expensive toys, why not…..

        2. Sounds like you’re in it for the money and no love, therefore your opinion is moot. He clearly has a passion to make music for fun with new fun and innovative technology.

      2. You are wrong, lots of people have home theater systems with this technology already.

        And since I am not into making pop music i don’t care about a wide audience. And the beauty is you don’t need apple headphones for playback ok you do need a iphone but this is going to change over time but android as we know sucks for music codec so yes I will stick with apple on this one for now.

  2. Just more opportunity for people to screw up a mix worse than they already do. Not that it matters, since everyone listens to the music they didn’t pay for with garbage headphones anyway.

    And the last thing I want to do is involve myself with Apple.

  3. Now the extra pressure to also mix my track in spatial audio it’s hard enough to finish a track already! 🙂
    I guess it is not easily done tastefully, will sound as a gimmick at first but with some years of practice it will make sense in my music.

  4. Only problem I see here is that Dolby is pushing headphones to be a viable listening tool for Atmos…. and in the end it is a very poor compromise and totally underwhelming. People will just be disappointed. Sure 8D is a trend on Youtube but it’s just a free gimmick. To get the full effect you need a proper set up and that cost money. But a headphone experience is not giving listerners an ecuragement to upgrade IMHO as it’s said to be the real deal. By emphasizing on headphones, Atmos for music most likely will be yet another Quadraphonic dead duck.

    1. Ubiquitous distribution may solve the chicken and egg audience problem that has always meant that there’s little content to drive interest in surround music formats.

      Requiring ‘a proper set up and that cost money’ has failed for 40 years to create support for surround formats and the same thing’s been happening with VR.

  5. I wonder how many “audiophiles” are going to try to playback uncompressed 24 bit/192 khz files over those bluetooth (!) headphones and think oh I can totally hear it sounds so much better than AAC/mp3. ^^
    get your popcorn ready.

    1. Your comment makes no sense.

      Apple Music automatically tailors streams to your output device and your bandwidth, and you can customize this. So it won’t try to stream huge files to your Bluetooth device or when you’re connected to cell service.

      Audiophiles have WiFi-enabled sound systems. I’ve got both my stereos hooked up to cheap used Apple Airport Express routers, and they do a great job. I’m not that excited about the high res files, but because AAC already sounds great to me, but Atmos support and Spatial Audio are going to be great as electronic musicians start supporting it.

  6. Now the extra pressure to also mix my track in spatial audio! it’s hard enough to finish a track already 🙂
    I guess it is not easily done tastefully, will sound as a gimmick at first but with some years of practice it will maybe make sense in my music.

  7. I’m not a fan of DRM formats either. I could gripe about the negatives, but I’d rather comment on the interesting things and the fact it’s coming to Logic Pro. Amazon Prime also has Dolby Atmos options, so this isn’t stuck on one platform. Yes it’s unfortunate that it’s tied to devices that will play it, but so is most 4k HDR content. That’s not stopping people from making content though and who knows if we’ll see more independent players decode Atmos so people can produce and distribute over Bandcamp etc.

    Currently one of the only ways to create Atmos content is to get the Renderer application and plugins through Avid. If this is put into Logic Pro, it will save people some money to try this stuff out. Logic has surround and a binaural panner already (not quite perfect), so this doesn’t surprise me. I’ve listened to Atmos so far on an iPhone with a pair of monitor headphones and it’s an interesting effect. I don’t think it’ll be for all though. I’m kind of more interested in people producing new content for Atmos rather than new mixes of existing recordings. I tend to like the original, sort of like how Star Wars theatrical releases will always be my fav. That’s not to say I wouldn’t mind hearing a new mix of The Downward Spiral in Atmos that bests it’s 5.1 mix though.

    In terms of lossless, I’m glad it’s finally here, but mostly for a few other reasons than just listening. If you’re looking to reference tracks on your system that come as close to the master tape’s quality, this is pretty great. Of course this was possible for a while using, but now you can stream it without having to grab a copy just for referencing. This is also beneficial if you want to do some analysis of the tracks for learning/teaching in a decent studio setting. Like surround-sound, Atmos and lossless probably won’t be used by all, but I’m glad Logic will have ways of exploring it.

  8. It’s a novelty… I think most people don’t understand surround/immersive authoring and Dolby is protective over what gets released with their stamp on it. This may be like the Pro Tools Atmos set where you can prepare a mix but to actually get it encoded to Atmos requires submitting to a Dolby-approved Atmos studio

    1. This is incorrect. You can use the Avid-distributed Dolby Atmos Production Suite ($300) to publish an Atmos Master to music streaming services now without any involvement from Dolby. And Netflix explicitly does not require Dolby certification for Atmos deliverables. It’s one of the first bullet points in their delivery spec.

  9. yes, most peeps dont understand what immersive audio is. Its the aural component to virtual reality. Its not the same as surround sound or anything from the past. It is the audio simulation of how you hear the real world. The thing is, the big companies are racing to create a standard for it so that you dont have to buy one companie’s playback system or recording format to use it. Another requirement is that the playback format requires only 2 channels; after all, we hear the world with only 2 ears. One thing is that everyone hears differently ( genetics, environment, experience, ear shape, head shape, etc). You can have this measured, its called a Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF). You have this measured and then load that file into your VR/immersive audio/binaural playback system so that it works correctly for your brain. I rarely ever see the mention of HRTF factors in commercial releases of immersive audio playback. If technology has found a way around HRTF and i missed this, please chime in and let us know.

    1. The delta in spatial performance/localization is fairly small between generalized HRTFs and what you’re referring to, which is personalized HRTFs. HRTFs derived from a manikin are generally a pretty close approximation to most people.

  10. As with various noise-reduction schemes of the past (with analog tape), you needed to code the audio during recording, and decode during playback. If you did one stage and not the other, you heard some form of compression and/or expansion. And I suspect some criticisms of NR systems had to do with non-linearities on one or both ends of that process, or not matching the coder with the decoder (Dolby A, B, C, DBX, etc.), or worse– decoding non-encoded audio.

    I suppose Apple can have more confidence that people will have the appropriate hardware, since they are so ubiquitous– and people might want their bite out of that– to resist the FOMO.

  11. spacial audio is what happens when you walk away from the record player to the fridge to get another beer and walk back, it’s as if you’re in a 3D space moving around and music is playing. 😉

  12. I remember a long time ago they announced Quadraphonic sound with a lot of poohaa. Never was a success. The same with super audio. Died. Immersive audio is nice, but imo will go the same way. And we’ll end up just listening to stereo. NEXT.

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