Introducing the Dolby® Atmos Album Assembler
The Dolby Atmos Album Assembler is a new tool designed to simplify the process of finalizing songs and albums mixed in Dolby Atmos. Used in conjunction with the Dolby Atmos Renderer application on macOS (either the Dolby Atmos Production Suite or Mastering Suite, purchased separately), the Album Assembler has been developed from the ground up for mastering Dolby Atmos music. It gives you everything that you need to sequence and finish your album before delivering it to a label or streaming service. The Dolby Atmos Album Assembler can be purchased through the Avid Store for $99 USD.
Clips and Files
The Album Assembler works with Dolby Atmos ADM BWF files and treats each one as a single block, rather than providing access to each individual bed and object channel (of which there may be up to 128). This simplifies the workflow and brings the experience closer to what a mastering engineer typically works with for stereo music. That said, if you do need to manipulate individual channels, you can still do that in your DAW.
For each ADM BWF file, the Album Assembler displays a 5.1 rendered waveform to allow you to see where signal is present. In addition to the Dolby Atmos track, the Album Assembler also includes a stereo reference track so that you can align your Dolby Atmos song starts and durations with mastered stereo content.
Monitoring is done via the Dolby Atmos Renderer application, and both the Album Assembler and the Renderer applications must be installed on the same Mac. Simply connect the Album Assembler to the Renderer, set your desired monitoring configuration in the Renderer along with a few other settings, and you’re good to go. The Album Assembler handles all metadata properly, including ensuring that the Renderer is configured with any trim, downmix, and binaural render mode (BRM) settings in the source ADM BWF file.
The stereo reference track can be monitored by enabling the stereo reference toggle or via a keyboard shortcut. When enabled, the left and right channels from the stereo content are routed to channels 1 and 2 in the Renderer and any BRM metadata on those channels is set to Off. You can also globally adjust the gain of the stereo track. Because mastered stereo content is typically hotter than Dolby Atmos content, you’ll typically want to turn down the stereo.
The Album Assembler includes some simple but powerful editing tools for assembling your Dolby Atmos album. In addition to sequencing your songs on the timeline and adding spacing between songs, you can also hover the mouse over either edge of a Dolby Atmos clip to trim or apply a linear fade-in or fade-out. If you need to add crossfades, you’ll want to do that in your DAW. Use the zoom in/out function to fine-tune alignment of Dolby Atmos clips with their stereo counterparts, or to adjust a fade or trim with more precision.
The Album Assembler makes applying processing to your songs a breeze. Everything is done at the clip level, so simply select a clip and you can apply changes to gain, EQ, and limiting as desired. Processing is applied equally to all channels in the ADM file. If you want to treat individual channels separately or use your favorite plug-in chain, you’ll want to do that in your DAW.
The limiter contains some special rendering and sidechain sauce under the hood to create a very transparent and musical limiter that sounds great across all monitoring configurations from binaural to 9.1.6.
Due to the nature of how Dolby Atmos works, it’s important to note that this is not a “brick wall” limiter. When adding gain with any of the processing tools in the Album Assembler (gain, EQ, or limiter), we recommend watching the meters in the main application window and Renderer to ensure that you’re not clipping or creating too much binaural limiting.
If you want to apply the same EQ and limiter treatment to multiple songs, you can easily copy and paste the settings between clips.
Loudness and Delivery Specs
In order to meet the delivery specs for your label or streaming service, you’ll need to ensure that all Dolby Atmos ADM BWF files match the length of any corresponding stereo clips and that your songs are not exceeding the loudness targets. To measure loudness, simply select your clip and hit the Analyze button.
Nearly everything from the Assembler timeline can be stored in a project file for future recall. Loudness measurement is not stored, as any changes to clip length, fades, or processing will invalidate the measurement.
Once you’re done, simply select your Dolby Atmos clip and export it as a mastered ADM BWF file. Everything that you’ve been monitoring, including all trim, downmix, and BRM metadata from the source file is passed through to the ADM export.
Purchasing and Free Trial
The Dolby Atmos Album Assembler can be purchased through the Avid Store for $99 USD, or you can download a free 90-day trial of the Dolby Atmos Album Assembler (and Dolby Atmos Production Suite) at https://customer.dolby.com/content-creation-and-delivery.
*Dolby Atmos is a registered trademark of Dolby Laboratories.