Dean St Studios converts for Dolby Atmos Music revolution

posted on Thursday, 8th October 2020 by Steve May

Hi-fi  Trade  Dolby Atmos 

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Momentum continues to grow behind Dolby Atmos Music, with the news that London’s legendary Dean Street Studios has converted its flagship Studio 1 for Dolby Atmos mixing.

The facility has hosted recording sessions for some of the UK’s biggest stars over the years, including David Bowie, The Smiths, Robert Plant and Noel Gallagher, and according to owner Jasmin Lee, the move to immersive audio should inspire even greater creativity.

Studio 1 now offers a mirror of the Dolby Atmos mix room installed at Capitol Studios in Los Angeles, with a 9.4.4 configured PMC speaker installation.

The Atmos studio upgrade was part of refurbishments, undertaken by Veale Associates during lockdown. Inside CI was invited to hear the room in full Atmos flight when it opened for business this week, and we were blown away by the sense of scale and depth the 360 degree soundstage created. It dawns on us that few will ever hear Dolby Atmos Music in such breathtaking detail.

Once owned by producer Tony Visconti, the space was taken over in 2007, by mother and daughter partnership Suzanne Lee-Barnes and Jasmin Lee (pictured below).

Jasmin Lee

Lee says they began to look closely at Dolby Atmos Music earlier this year, then decided to
“dive in with both feet. All this happened in April. We started the work at the beginning of August, so it was a very quick turnaround. We've had to completely refurbish Studio One - the whole place was ripped out and redone. We're so excited because this is the first of its kind in the UK. We're super excited about where we're going from here.”

The revamped Studio 1 control room for Dolby Atmos Music production features PMC’s flagship IB2S XBD-A active monitors covering left and right main channels, an IB2S-A for the centre channel, 10 discrete Wafer2 loudspeakers for surround and height channels and four sub2 subwoofers.

“Atmos music, certainly in the UK, is still quite new, I think it's been around about a year or so, of course in the states a lot longer. But artists aren't as aware of it as the labels and the business side. So it’s our mission. I think we're one of the only studios that's got a live room attached to an Atmos mixing suite, and we are so excited about the possibilities of where we could take this with the artists, get them involved. Everybody, artist-wise, I've played this, too, has been like ‘Oh my goodness!’, for them hearing their music with so much more space, the sound not limited to that stereo mix, it's a revelation for them. So this is where I think we're going to really drive this forward.”

Studio 1

Currently most of the Atmos music remixing involves library content. So just how far back can engineers go when it comes to taking a track from the vaults and turning it into an Atmos mix?

“Obviously, the further back you get, the harder it gets, obviously,” says Jake Fields, Dolby Field Application and Mix Engineer. “You’ve got four tracks, up to eight tracks, up to 16 tracks, and then sort of the 90s, you've got the digital recording revolution. A lot of the stuff from 30 years onwards will have a lot more opportunities and possibilities with it than stuff from like the 70s. It also really depends on how well stuff’s been archived and how well it was multi tracked at the time; if the band sprung for the 16 track recording instead of the eight track recording at the time, all these decisions will then affect how much for creative freedom you'll have down the line.”

Dean St. Studios is now working with producers, artists and record labels to introduce them to the creative possibilities of the new format.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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