Originally Posted by Gooddoc
Did I mention how stupid good this Atmos mix is?
Why am I seemingly one of only like 3 people on the planet that has heard this disc outside of the mixing studio?
Come on peeps, don't be so tight with the cash
Make that 4 people
. I got the disc yesterday, and had a chance to listen to about the album tonight between Thanksgiving activities with the Altitude. For reference, I have a 9.4.6 system, and played the disc without the Trinnov 3D remapping on. That's 7.1+wides, an extra pair of surrounds, and three pairs of heights.
First reaction: anybody that complains that Atmos doesn't use wides enough or that the heights aren't getting used enough will be ecstatic how active this mix is. Essentially wides and all three pairs of heights in my setup (top front, top middle, top rear) are apparently always active, as was my second pair of side surrounds dedicated to be "side surround 1" on the Altitude's Dolby Atmos configuration setting. "Side surround 1" is at about 70-75 degrees in my room, slightly in front of the sofa we have as MLP, while the bed side surround is at 105-110, slightly behind the critical listening area.
Normally that extra side surround pair is used for object passthrough or the same sound of the bed side surrounds at a reduced level (think Hunger Games: Catching Fire as an example of the latter). But here, it had distinct content that wasn't in my bed side surrounds. Case in point: the guitar on "Imagineland" that would otherwise be in a bed side surround on my 7.1.4 preset (I keep that around for testing purposes, just beds and top front and rears) got moved to that side surround 1 position, with percussion left in the "bed". It was more different than anything else, but I thought an improvement in how the guitar was heard by the listener over just going to the bed channel.
The mix is expansive, and every detail you could dream about wanting to be distinct stands out: muscular bass at times, strings on "Everybody Hurts" or "Sidewinder" become a lead instrument, the electric piano on "New Orleans Instrumental Number 1" is solidly heard in the front and sides in my room, giving it extra resonance, and the same with the vocals by Michael Stipe and in particular Bill Berry's background vocals in the center and top fronts. If you really want to get a feel for how a multitrack sounds before it gets mixed down to stereo, you've come to the right place.
However.....if anything that might be too much of a good thing, as we don't listen in a mixing studio. At times, the heights were louder than the mains, especially one something like "Nightswimming". It's almost like when they were mixing the Atmos content, they thought the heights were where front content might be. LOL.
While the revealed detail blows away the stereo version I'm more familiar with, I don't know how much I really enjoy the general mix choices that were made . To me, even being familiar with DVD-Audio and upmixed content, it just sounds weird to have the vocals and guitar sound like they're coming from the ceiling on "Drive", or the acoustic piano and vocals on "Nightswimming", or for one guitar to be in the left surround (side surround 1) and another to be in the right mains speaker on "Man on the Moon". It's almost like they took the existing DVD-Audio 5.1 mix and just elevated vocals and the instruments of floor speakers into heights.
To be honest, even though I'm a fan of REM (albeit more in the Out of Time or even the Monster period), I would have preferred a mix that sounded more like a band playing together in the studio, with the guitars more across the front and passing through to the wides, and not in a side surround and top middle of the room as much as it was. And certainly none of the diagonal guitar-across-the-room thing.
Still, just to hear all of the intent of the songs brought to life, this is a worthy BluRay to pick up. And I agree that done with a little more restraint, and less of surround imagery as a curiosity, the heights and object passthrough will make Atmos a standard to follow in the future of surround sound music.