Avenged Sevenfold singer says Dolby Atmos is “objectively worse than a stereo mix” for most listeners and isn’t ready to be an industry standard.
As more streaming platforms have adopted lossless audio or Dolby Atmos as their default audio quality, audiophiles are less apt to dismiss streaming altogether for offering little more than compressed tracks. But not everyone in the industry is pleased with the prevalence of Dolby Atmos as a leading standard. Avenged Sevenfold frontman Matt Shadows argues that Dolby Atmos surround sound technology can take away from the experience for listeners with ordinary headphones.
In a series of tweets, Shadows explained that advanced surround sound technology like Dolby Atmos may be “objectively worse” than a stereo mix in most cases and shouldn’t be an industry standard quite yet.
“Let’s get to the bottom of Dolby Atmos,” Shadows writes. “I have heard there is pressure from DSPs to mix all new albums in this format if you want top placement on their platforms, though I cannot confirm this yet. To me, Dolby Atmos sounds objectively worse than a stereo mix.”
“The vocal is constantly muddied or non-existent due to the fact that instruments are coming at you from all angles. When listening in regular headphones (which 99% of people are), it sounds like a washy mess to me.”
“This may be okay if it was an option to turn on, but currently, it is the default on Apple Music, and you actually have to turn it off if you are so inclined,” he continues. “The problem with this is no one knows what Dolby Atmos is, so they throw on a new album and think that’s the original mix.”
“I believe artists like us have mostly written songs with stereo in mind (left guitar, right guitar, simple panning for effect), and what happens with Atmos is we are trying to spread out instruments into places they were never written for.”
Shadows concludes, “As time goes on, I’m sure younger artists will write songs with this new technology in mind, but for me right now, Dolby f*cks up a good mix in standard headphones. Thoughts?”
It should be interesting to see if other artists share Shadows’ feelings on the matter. Other users on Twitter replied mainly in agreement, stating that unless a song is made with Dolby Atmos mixing in mind, it may not sound “right” to the ear as opposed to a standard stereo mix.