Ariel Borujow and Joe Grasso in conversation with Audiomovers founder Igor Maxymenko in NYC
The launch of Binaural Renderer for Apple Music*, working with Puffy and the future of Atmos on the agenda at Republic Studios
Read more about Binaural Renderer for Apple Music* here
Ariel on the future of immersive
“You know what, I think 99% of the people don't have Dolby Atmos rooms at home. So what are they consuming it on? Headphones. So I'm going to mix it on headphones and in my head it was like, this is stereo. Atmos shouldn’t sound like this on headphones. It should sound better, right? So I started doing that. But I switched to Logic, because I said I need to do this, I need to mix it where I can hear it and just keep going from there”.
“And then Igor at Audiomovers reached out to me and said ‘I have this plugin that is going to change everything’. We're going to be able to do it in Pro Tools. And that kind of changes things. I’ve been using Pro Tools since 1997. One of the first albums was when I was an assistant was Puffy’s second album. I used to work at his studio and we actually used Pro Tools to track and we used tape to backup at the end of the night. Which was hell let me tell you!”
“You have to align a tape machine and then you're spending $200 on a tape for backup, which only was 15 minutes long, right? Now, I've been mixing on headphones, every so often, I'll pop in to Republic Studios with an ADM file. I say Hey, Joe (Grasso), can you load this up and let's hear what it sounds like in the room and listen and he would give me pointers. My job is always is make it sound as great on headphones as it is in the room”.
“So I've been using Binaural Renderer for a couple of weeks. I've done two mixes now for an artist on RCA that I'm working on because it's just so easy, like the label wants really at this point. You know, at least for my work, I always get asked, ‘hey can you also make that Atmos too?’. I'm like sure, I'll do it. It’s easier for me now because then I can decide whether I'm going to print stems to do this. Or if it's not such a huge session, I can decide within the session like, okay, I can just switch this over to Atmos and flip it and maybe mix it that way”.
“I do believe that Atmos is the future once they figure it out. I don't know if headphone technology is as exciting to me as speakers just yet. I'm not sure we're there yet. However, once they get Atmos into the consumer cars, like Toyota is doing with the Corolla, that's going to be when it changes that market. We used to do car tests, you know, because that's where you're consuming music and I think it'll get better. But I do believe that Atmos will be the new stereo and stereo will be the new mono and I think mono will be obsolete”.
Creative benefits of checking the mix in real time
"Being able to share what we're doing in real time is amazing. But having the ability to just check the Apple mix real fast and say yes, rather than testing it, the MP4 and the phone and then checking the Binaural Render versus the MP4 and hearing the room it's eliminating a lot of steps.
I think for a lot of the artists right now there still is a big mystery about Atmos. So getting them excited about it and to care about it as much as stereo is different. They know they can check stereo in the car and they know what to expect everywhere. I think ,right now, really getting them to be comfortable with what's on Apple Music is key. So I think doing this with he bigger artists who you know, mostly would say 'I don't care, I don't care'. It's not only helping speed up the approval process, but it's actually helping us get approvals that we wouldn't have otherwise gotten or would have gone to A&R rather than artist so that connection with the artist is great".
Joe Grasso 2x Grammy Nominated, Multi-Platinum Engineer (Ashanti, Shania Twain, Yung Gravy). Over 1000 Atmos mixes completed.
Joe on the current state of Atmos mixing and artists
“I mixed over 1000 tracks in Dolby Atmos. So I'll give you a best case and worst case scenario. Best case scenario. We mix something in the room, the artist comes in the room, they hear it and they approve it, and they go home and if they want to hear a copy at home, we render out an MP4 and send it to them.
And they hear and they can approve it in headphones if they want. And it sounds just like what they heard and it goes on Apple Music and everything is great.
That's best case scenario, and it was never happening.
Well what ended up happening is, artists would have these ‘oh shit’ moments on Friday morning. When it does get released on Apple Music, they don’t like what they hearing, we're going backwards because what they heard in the room didn't match experience on the headphones.
On Audiomovers in the mix
I think what this solution (Binaural Renderer For Apple Music) kind of solves now is we can mix something and I could send it to an artist whevener they are, to their headphones, they can now actually know exactly what they're getting on Friday morning. So I think that's really where this is going to be huge.
And the other thing too is the MP4 process is really cumbersome for an artist and we lose artists in that process. You know, if it's the Jonas Brothers for example and they're on board and they're really busy, we send them an MP4 file and tell them to save it to a file folder and you gotta go to your files and then drag down and make sure it's ready. But if it doesn't work, you gotta restart your phone. And you know, they're like, ‘We don't care anymore’. We lose artists in that MP4 approval process. And this (Binaural Renderer for Apple Music and combination of Listento Pro) is now like a real time. It's a really seamless process.”