3D POP MUSIC
Swedish band, Mando Diao’s seventh album, Aelita, has been mixed and released in Auro-3D sound, alongside the usual stereo and 5.1 mixes.
If you can wade yourself through the marketing, it seems the band has used a kind of wave field synthesis (WFS) mixing technique (which has an effect similar to a binaural recording), which is a new concept for music. Whereas Dolby took the concept of WFS sound and brought it into cinemas and home theaters with Atmos (you can read our article about that here), this is the first time the technique has been used to for pop music, that is, if you don’t count Lou Reed’s 1978 song Street Hassle as ‘pop music’ (which was recorded in binaural).
How wave field synthesis or Auro-3D sound works is by adding height to a traditional 5.1 mix, creating a spatial field where sound not only surrounds you, but can be heard above and (with true WFS sound) below, the ear level. Using this kind of speaker arrangement in a cinema or home theater creates a natural sound field where every seat becomes a sweet spot.
The results of WFS is very similar to the effect found in traditional binaural recording, which is done by placing a pair of microphones on a dummy head (18 cms apart and facing outward) and recording the performance around the head. This is why it works so well with stereo headphones in this great example of a binaural recording, the virtual barbershop video on Youtube (here). Of course, using this technique for recording isn’t good for controlling the mix, or for filmmaking, and trying to create WFS is just too expensive to be viable (it uses hundreds of speakers), hence Aural-3D and Dolby Atmos were created.
Phew…now onto the 3D pop music.
The Swedish duo were given a Russian synthesiser ‘Aelita’, which inspired Gustaf and Björn with the endless possibilities the instrument provided, from pulsating bass, to delicate arpeggios. As songwriters, the pair are always productive and they set about using the electronic sounds as parts to existing material and also creating new song ideas. Björn and Gustaf are known to have an interest in electronic, dance and Hip Hop music and with their experience as DJ’s and producers, they brought a new dimension to the collaboration with Björn Olsson with whom they wrote the core of what would be the Aelita album. During sessions at their own Månses studio, the basic tracks were finished.
Following their collaboration for the first album from the artistic collective Caligola in 2012, they continued to work on this new album. In late 2012 Veronica Ferraro started the final stereo mixing of the record while the band explored the visual and audio expression the electronic and digital world could provide, continuing this work during the success of Mando Diao’s last album, Infruset, during 2013.
Ronald Prent created the WFS mix of the album at Wisseloord Studios, in the Netherlands (you can read our article about Wisseloord here), with 3 time Grammy winner Darcy Proper, mastering the album. The extra mixes can be heard on the band’s Pure Audio Blu-ray, or via the Auro-HeadPhones mix of the album (which can be played on any stereo headphones), available via iTunes.
“None of our albums sound the same as the last one. We’re always looking for new dimensions and we found yet another one with Aelita. Auro-3D was a natural step because we could take this record beyond what we had done before.” stated Gustaf Norén.
Wilfried Van Baelen, CEO of Auro Technologies said, “This is the first time we have released a 3D mix of a new electronics rock music album. There are many more in the pipeline, and music-lovers will be able to experience amazingly immersive music and film of all kinds in the coming months.”
Along with Dolby, Auro-3D have created high-end home theatres systems equipped to play-back binaural sound and the format will soon be available in other consumer applications, such as mobile, automotive and gaming where it will be utilised to make immersive games where sound is of equal importance to visuals.
Excerpts from Press Release