How Dolby Atmos Works with Dante and RedNet

March 30, 2024
How Dolby Atmos Works with Dante and RedNet
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Dolby Atmos has emerged as the premium format of choice in today’s media landscape, where content competes for eardrums. This immersive audio technology envelops listeners in a three-dimensional soundscape, enhancing their viewing and listening experiences.

Dolby Atmos transforms traditional surround sound by introducing individual sonic elements called objects. These objects can be precisely placed, moved and pinned to speakers within the listener’s environment. The result? An audio experience that transcends channels and immerses the audience in a rich, multidimensional world.

But how do post-production facilities seamlessly integrate Dolby Atmos into their workflows? The answer lies in the powerful combination of Dante and RedNet.

Also Read: Optimise Your Sound with a Dolby Atmos Soundbar

How Dante and RedNet Create the Right Sonic Canvas

Critical to moving sound within a facility for Dolby Atmos mixing is a Dante network, facilitated by Focusrite RedNet network bridges. These components are the backbone of content and signal transport infrastructure, enabling facilities to handle the high channel count required for Dolby Atmos mixing sessions. The RedNet HD32R Pro Tools and A16R Analog I/O allow easy connectivity and routing between Dolby Atmos-enabled DAWs, the Dolby Rendering and Mastering Unit and the monitoring environment.

Dolby Atmos offers an exciting new audio playground for audio professionals. It embraces a flexible, hybrid approach to panning. Mixes are built on channel-based beds (e.g., 7.1), but the remaining 128 channels are allocated to ‘objects’. These objects represent individual sonic elements that can be precisely placed, moved or pinned to speakers within the listener’s three-dimensional environment.

The behaviour of each object exists separately from the audio itself, detailed in metadata, allowing consistent playback across various room and speaker setups. In our next section, we’ll look at a real-world example demonstrating the synergy between Dante and Dolby Atmos.

Also Read: What is Dante? Meaning, Use, Benefits of Dante Audio - Let’s Deep Dive

Image credit - Focusrite

Elevating Dolby Atmos with Dante and RedNet in the Real World

Bang Zoom! Entertainment, a renowned post-audio facility based in Burbank, California, has consistently delivered outstanding sound for animated series and films. Their impressive track record includes two Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Sound Mixing and Outstanding Sound Editing, as well as work on the acclaimed animated series Rick and Morty.

The backbone of Bang Zoom!'s audio infrastructure is a Dante network, facilitated by six Focusrite RedNet HD32R 32-channel HD Dante network bridges. These components efficiently transport sound throughout the facility, handling the high channel count required for Dolby Atmos mixing sessions.

RedNet products ensure seamless connectivity and signal transport. These include HD32R Units that transport up to 128 channels from the Avid Pro Tools | HDX system to the Dolby RMU Atmos rendering and mastering processor. Two more HD32Rs serve as interfaces for the studio’s Pro Tools recording system. A 2x2 RedNet X2P Dante audio interface provides headphone monitoring and talk-back capabilities. A RedNet PCIeR Card enhances the rendering engine and the RedNet 4 eight-channel mic preamps enhance other studios’ capabilities.

By adding more HD32R units to the existing system, they seamlessly scaled their infrastructure without starting from scratch highlighting the scalability and flexibility of the system
RedNet’s flexibility allows fluid transitions between traditional stereo, 5.1 and Dolby Atmos workflows.

In our final section, we’ll look at why AoIP solutions are the way to go for professionals working with Dolby Atmos.

Also Read: Future-Proofing Your Home Theatre: The Role of Dante Technology

The Importance of Audio-over-IP (AoIP) for Professionals

AoIP solutions leverage existing IT network infrastructure (e.g., Ethernet switches), reducing the need for new devices or re-cabling. They adapt and expand easily, minimising labour and equipment costs. In addition to being highly cost-effective, ethernet connectivity also makes AoIP highly scalable. Unlike traditional AV systems with fixed input/output ports, AoIP products can accommodate various user scenarios without major hardware changes.

In addition to this, AoIP also enables audio distribution across long distances, making it ideal for large recording sessions, post-production and immersive formats like Dolby Atmos. AoIP standards like AES67 even support broadcast deployment. RedNet PCIeNX, for instance, is SMPTE ST 2110 compliant (the same technology used in the Las Vegas Sphere), making it suitable for broadcast environments.

For big post-production studios, the mesh of Dante and RedNet for Dolby Atmos provides seamless integration of high-channel-count Dante audio with the Dolby Renderer and is perfect for creating immersive soundscapes in film, TV and gaming. This combination provides highly scalable, flexible and low-latency audio delivery in recording studios and music production facilities. It is ideal for capturing and mixing high-resolution audio in real-time.

AoIP solutions enhance content delivery, especially for live events, sports and entertainment and are hugely successful when employed for Broadcast and streaming services where Dolby Atmos can enrich the viewer and listener experience across various platforms.

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