As Apple puts the finishing touches on its new augmented reality headset, expected later this year, I’ve been tracking innovation in music. Spatial Audio/Dolby Atmos. Why? Dolby Atmos will be a huge part of the announcements Apple is going to make. It will also be very important in the future of the “metaverse.”
Last year we got a new Sonos system that plays Dolby Atmos (new spatial audio/surround sound/better quality). Since I sold audio gear in the 1980s it’s amazing to me that you can feel like you are in the middle of a concert now. Apple’s headphones, which I also have, also support Dolby Atmos but don’t really get you the surround sound or the bass of our $3,800 Sonos system.
While watching group forums on Facebook and elsewhere I see lots of others are getting new audio systems that play Dolby Atmos. Movies have played Atmos for years, but music services started sharing Atmos less than a year ago.
The problem is finding Dolby Atmos music.
For instance, Apple’s “Rock Spatial Audio” list has 99 songs. Nice start, but I got bored very quickly. So I started collecting my own. My rock list has 1,131 songs and my hard rock list has 166 songs. Finding these are very difficult. Why? Some albums only have one song done in Dolby Atmos. So you gotta go one by one through each song and you need to know where to look to find new ones.
None of the services are doing Dolby Atmos fans, like me, justice. I’m on all of them that support Atmos (Tidal, Amazon, and Apple) and even some that don’t support Atmos (like Spotify and YouTube Music).
It makes you wonder why the music industry is hiding its biggest technology advance in decades? When it comes to Apple, I’m pretty sure it is readying their own Dolby Atmos music service for its new headset. But Amazon? Its UI is horrid. Worse, all services have really shitty search engines.
Anyway, Dave Winer regularly writes that blogs let authors route around big companies. This is exactly what is going on here. Now, I know 99.99% of people don’t care. That’s fine. You will when you get new surround sound headphones next year. If you still are reading, just remember that this post exists so when you do start to care about music quality you have a resource to go to.
Anyway, here’s the master list of my 60 playlists. I’m breaking them into two sections: “curated” and “catalog.” Curated means I built the list after listening to every song. I built these for my own home and are what I listen to every day. Catalog means it’s just a list of everything I can find (like my rock lists) without any concern about the quality).
If you use these, you must see the Dolby Atmos logo. If you don’t see a logo when playing then you aren’t getting the full Atmos experience (you might need to turn it on in your phone’s settings, or upgrade your equipment).
So, let’s start with “curated.” The first link is to Apple Music. Amazon has a lot less music in Dolby Atmos format and I have only moved over some of my playlists (they take hours to move over because Amazon has far less Atmos).
I include the link here because Amazon sounds better than Apple. Even on Apple’s own headphones. Why? Because it is using a new version of Dolby Atmos that Apple and Tidal aren’t yet using.
1. Chill Together. 161 songs. This is music that Maryam (I’m her husband) and I like listening together to. Nice and calm music.
5. Dolby Atmos Speaker Demonstrations. 84 songs. The best of the best. I did this list to show family and friends what Dolby Atmos is all about but I found it’s great to keep going back to whenever the software in my speaker system upgrades. (Amazon)
6. Explicit Favorites. 694 songs.
7. Explicit Subwoofer Shakers. 1,373 songs. I have two subwoofers so look for recordings that get them working harder than usual.
9. Favorite Bollywood. 32 songs. I need to work on this more, I love the upbeat and happy music from India.
11. Favorites. 1,254 songs. Similar to Dolby Atmos Radio but with a little higher quality level.
15. Unusual. 23 songs. Sometimes I find music that just makes me go “huh?” That goes here.
The rest is what I call “catalog.” In other words, genres or other things that don’t have editorial input from me. Here I go for completeness, not quality. Usually I try to stay with Apple’s own categorization.
17. African. 33 songs.
19. Alternative Folk. 14 songs.
20. Blues. 36 songs.
21. Bollywood. 247 songs.
34. Children’s Music. 68 songs.
35. Chinese Pop. 98 songs.
37. Church. 184 songs. Religious.
42. Drinking. 36 songs.
47. Holiday. 647 songs.
50. Meditation. 30 songs.
51. New Dolby Atmos Friday. 357 songs. (Changes every day as new music comes out. I keep music here for about a week).
52. Organ. 55 songs.
54. Reggae. 12 songs.
56. Scary. 13 songs.
59. Worldbeat. 87 songs.