Producing in Dolby Atmos at Ableton Loop


A few weeks back I was lucky enough to be invited to Berlin to present Dolby Atmos at Ableton Loop. It was a great honour to be asked to work with a brand such as Dolby and on a project as ground-breaking as Atmos - it’s going to be a game changer! For those unfamiliar with Dolby Atmos, it's the next step beyond surround sound for cinema and in my mind, the most exciting development in music for a long time. Sound is reproduced in 3D and can be moved in space to create an immersive experience. Apply this to electronic music, and you've got something pretty special!

The idea for my presentation was to make a track from scratch in Dolby Atmos. The track came about across a few sessions at Dolby's studios in Soho. The more I got stuck in, the more ideas I had on how to use the 3D panning to my advantage (some were quite crazy and experimental like taking a sound and have it ping-pong against the back of the room). The track evolved into this cinematic beast as I imagined sounds as characters in the centre of an epic battle in a sci-fi movie. It was such a cool experience animating my sounds like this using the Dolby Atmos Music panner - lots of fun was had :)


The presentation took place at Loop Berlin which is a music summit hosted in probably the most unique building I’ve ever seen, Funkhaus. It was purpose-built in the 50’s as the broadcast HQ for the GDR’s state radio. Such an awesome setting for an event like this. Seeing it from the outside, I was struck by it's imposing Bauhaus architecture. Inside was a colourful fest of music tech and visual art with Ableton’s slick branding stamped everywhere. It was really inspiring to just walk around and geek out on all of the amazing gear!

I made the presentation in a huge hall alongside Gabriel Cory, head of Dolby Atmos for electronic music. We started by playing the finished track; it was very cool to see people's reactions, some were looking around the room to see where the sounds were coming from! We exploded the track and I explained how I created and mixed a lot of the sounds. We then talked about the general challenges mixing in 3D space and expanded on psycho-acoustic phenomena such as the Doppler effect and how it can be used to great success. We also covered some conventional sound engineering stuff such as phase alignment, working with drum transients and sound design / synthesis - I'm planning to do a blog post on these topics at a later date.

It's been a great experience making music in Dolby Atmos and it's something I want to do a lot more of. The end result is pretty mind blowing and in a club scenario you can imagine how epic that is. I love the idea of creating something custom made for this medium to really show off it's capabilities. I also highly recommend Ableton Loop for any electronic music people out there; artists / producers / engineers of all levels will get a lot out of it - it's seriously inspiring stuff!