With Studio One 6.5 you already have all the tools you need to mix in Atmos, so why not give it a go?
If you’re anything like me, you’ll have been ignoring Dolby Atmos because it feels complex and you don’t think it really applies to you. Besides, there’s no way you’re about to install 17 speakers into the cupboard under the stairs where you make your music! But Studio One 6.5 has gifted us with a fully fleshed‑out Dolby Atmos rendering environment, so the least we could do is give it a look. And, as luck would have it, it’s entirely possible to experience Atmos through a pair of regular headphones, and the whole process is remarkably simple. So, let’s get binaural!
...it’s entirely possible to experience Atmos through a pair of regular headphones, and the whole process is remarkably simple.
First, open a song that you fancy sprinkling with some of that spatial magic. I would recommend saving it as a new song, because you’re probably going to be messing it about quite a lot.
In order to prepare Studio One for the rigours of Atmos mixing, there are a few things we need to take care of. Now, you would imagine if we intend to mix in 7.1.4 or such like, then we’re going to need a bigger audio interface to handle all the outputs. That’s true for mixing on monitors, but if we just want to mix binaurally on a pair of headphones, then all we actually need is a stereo output. We can fool Studio One into using lots and lots of outputs even though they don’t actually exist.
So, go into Song Setup (shortcut Ctrl/Cmd+.) and on the General Page, click the Spatial Audio tab. Under Mode, select Dolby Atmos. It will probably throw in a Bed Format of 7.1.2 and an Output Format of 7.1.4. 7.1.2 is the ‘standard’ Dolby Atmos setup, comprising of seven surround speakers, one subwoofer and two ceiling speakers. You should set the Output Format to whatever your speaker situation is, although, as we’re going to be doing this on headphones, it doesn’t really matter. Click on Apply, but don’t close the window just yet.
The sample rate will default to 48kHz. For Atmos, you are required to run the audio at 48kHz or 96kHz. You also need to set a buffer size of 512 or 1024 samples respectively. This ensures the system has enough slack for glitch‑free spatial mixing. To get to your audio interface settings, click on the Options button in the bottom left and go to Audio Setup.
Back in the Song Setup window, go to Audio I/O Setup. If your audio interface has enough outputs and you select 7.1.4 as the output format, then all the connections will be mapped out for you. However, all we need is a headphone output. You can add a separate one, or use your main output, depending on how your audio interface is configured. The important thing is to remove any of the surround connections,...