What charm does audio in space have in the eyes of independent musicians?

What is the appeal of space audio to indie musicians?

In June 2020, Apple officially launched “Spatial Audio”. With this technology, music that previously only had left and right channels can now be expanded to a wider dimension, allowing sound to surround the listener from all directions, creating a more immersive listening experience.

Spatial Audio

From a user perspective, Spatial Audio can expand the sound field of music, from a small room to a large living room, and even accurately locate the position of sound, providing a more realistic listening experience. So why are more and more creators embracing Spatial Audio? What new ideas can Spatial Audio bring to them?

Recently, to commemorate the centennial of the birth of renowned Chinese composer Zhou Wen Zhong, an experimental music album called “Living Water” was officially launched on Apple Music. Nine independent musicians used Apple’s ecosystem and Spatial Audio technology that supports Dolby Atmos to create this experimental music album. We had the opportunity to communicate with these creators face-to-face and learn about the help and impact of Spatial Audio on creators.

For many musicians, Spatial Audio is a new field that not only expands their creative dimension, but also brings more possibilities. As the creator of “Nanshan Qiyin”, 33EMYBW, said, Spatial Audio technology provided inspiration at the beginning of the creative process and the rich sound field brought by Spatial Audio also helps creators create a more vivid and open “Nanshan Jing”.

Various musicians use music to express their emotions, and musician Sun Dawei also recognizes the “wide sound field” brought by spatial audio. In his view, spatial audio can make some sounds more emotional and easier to express the creator’s true feelings.

In my opinion, creators’ views on spatial audio are similar to the difference between “listening to music at home” and “listening to live music”. As a music lover, I have also tried using GarageBand to create music, and the process of independent musicians producing music is similar. A complete song will have many different tracks. In traditional stereo music, these tracks need to be merged and placed in the left and right channels. However, spatial audio technology is designed to break this limitation. It can place different channels in different positions in space, making the listening experience closer to the feeling of a live concert.

Thanks to spatial audio technology, musicians can place different instruments in reasonable positions during the initial stage of music creation, such as placing the main drum in the center and toward the back, placing the guitar in the front left and right, and placing the cymbals that act as embellishments in the back, etc. The emergence of spatial audio technology is aimed at maximizing the restoration of the creator’s intention or helping the creator restore the effect of live performance.

Creating spatial audio music in Logic Pro

Gooooose, the musician who created “Dragon Palace LONG GONG”, also agrees that spatial audio brings a new experience. He fully used spatial audio technology in creating this song, and in his view, sound field and space are also the most important parts of music and sound works. Promoting this technology and standard to ordinary consumers has a revolutionary significance.

Users familiar with music and movies should be quite familiar with “Dolby Atmos”, and spatial audio technology is actually an extension and development of Dolby Atmos technology. In Dolby’s view, Dolby Atmos is not only suitable for movies, but also has huge potential in music.

However, for musicians, producing Dolby Atmos music is not an easy task. Most musicians cannot afford the basic production environment and expenses, as well as the complex learning costs.

Several musicians who participated in the experimental music album “Living Water” used a one-stop spatial audio workflow from Apple

In fact, the emergence of various creative tools is to lower the threshold for people and allow everyone to complete their creations more efficiently. Several musicians who participated in the experimental music album “Living Water” used a one-stop spatial audio workflow from Apple. The full-chain process, which is produced through Logic Pro on Mac, listened through AirPods Max, and distributed through Apple Music, also provides many conveniences for musicians.

In order to lower the threshold for spatial audio production, the new version of Logic Pro directly integrates the Dolby Atmos mixing plug-in into the software, and musicians only need to turn on the corresponding plug-in to use it directly. And the Mac with Apple’s self-developed chip starts from the hardware side to fully adapt to Logic Pro. Even if musicians produce hundreds of complex tracks, they can work smoothly.

One-stop spatial audio workflow

On the receiving end of audio, devices such as AirPods Max, Studio Display, and HomePod have also provided support for spatial audio. This support for spatial audio across the entire chain from creation to listening is undoubtedly a prerequisite for the full display of spatial audio.

Of course, let’s not forget Apple Music, the streaming platform for the general public. Thanks to the comprehensive support for spatial audio within the Apple ecosystem, more and more musicians are able to upload their spatial audio-supported works to Apple Music, and users around the world can enjoy more depth and three-dimensionality in their music works through their AirPods or HomePod.

The emergence of spatial audio technology provides musicians with a broader stage. In an interview with PhoneAuto, many musicians are happy to see the new changes that spatial audio brings to music creation. This undoubtedly also further expands the boundaries of the music world, allowing a wider audience to receive more creative works.

As for the one-stop spatial audio workflow brought by the Apple ecosystem, it also reduces the threshold for musicians’ creation. As the saying goes, “To do a good job, an artisan needs the best tools.” Apple is doing everything it can to make its products easy to use for everyone and to maximize their value.

PS: “Living Water: A Continuous Discussion on the Blending and Co-evolution of Eastern and Western Music Initiated by Zhou Wen Zhong” is a music project launched by independent music label bié Records to celebrate the 100th birthday of the famous Chinese composer Zhou Wen Zhong living in the United States. It brings together nine creators from China and around the world, including Du Yun, Li Huadi, Gooooose, 33EMYBW, Hualun Band, Sun Dawei, Knopha, otay: onii, and Yoann Pisterman. The experimental music collection adheres to Zhou Wen Zhong’s creative concept of “East and West, ancient and modern” and is now exclusively available on Apple Music.

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