UK loudspeaker manufacturer PMC was the toast of this year’s HIGH END Munich international hi-fi event thanks to its remarkable demonstrations of the Dolby Atmos music format, the leading immersive audio solution adopted by the audio and music mixing community.
The company’s demo room was filled to bursting point with a record number of visitors as people flocked to hear tracks from Miles Davis’ 1959 jazz album Kind of Blue and his 1960 Sketches of Spain remixed into Dolby Atmos. These previously unreleased Dolby Atmos mixes were only made possible because PMC was given unprecedented and very special permission by the Miles Davis Estate to create them using the recently installed PMC Dolby Atmos system at the world renowned Capitol Studios, Los Angeles, and present them at the show. In addition to this, Miles Davis’ son Erin Davis and his nephew and drummer Vince Wilburn were on hand to talk to visitors, while Grammy winning engineer David Rideau and Capitol’s Senior Engineer Steve Genewick, who worked with PMC USA’s own Maurice Patist on the mixes, were there to share technical insights into this remarkable project.
For the 3,600-plus visitors who came and filled PMC’s demo room for the entirety of the four-day show, it truly was a once in a lifetime opportunity to hear this quadruple platinum jazz album sounding like it never has before – and may never again as there are no firm plans to release the recordings.
“We were incredibly honoured that Miles’s family and record label gave us permission to complete this project,” Maurice Patist says. “Erin and Vince were consulted at all points during the mixing process, to ensure the sanctity of Miles’ artistic creations were preserved and even enhanced. The results are absolutely amazing and it didn’t surprise us at all that HIGH END Munich visitors who heard them were so blow away.”
Commenting on the demos, Vince Wilburn says: “It was as if I was in the orchestra. It’s a transformation. Miles would have loved this; my uncle would have loved this. If you love music this is the way to listen to it. There’s no other way.”
Miles’ son Erin adds: “I was kind of lost in there [the demo room]. I felt lost, like I was inside the music. I just got completely immersed – you are there with them and you are kind of understanding how this record was made from the room they were in. I don’t want to hear it any other way now. I don’t want to hear it with headphones, I don’t want to hear it in my car. I only want to hear it like this.”
Visitors to PMC’s demo room also heard selected Atmos tracks from Grammy Award winning saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom, who’s Above and Beyond album was mixed for this event by long-time PMC users and multi Grammy winning engineers, Jim and Ulrike Anderson.
The actual demo room was equipped with PMC’s flagship audiophile loudspeakers, the fact fenestria, which were complemented by an array of Wafer on-wall speakers for the surround and height channels and a selection of professional subwoofers. This system closely mimics the professional PMC system at Capitol Studios’ dedicated Dolby Atmos room where all these projects were mixed.
To ensure that the Dolby Atmos mixes could be played through consumer equipment, PMC enlisted the help of Stefan Bock, owner of MSM Studios in Munich, which specialises in mastering for Pure Audio Blu-ray. This high data rate format has enormous storage capacity (up to 50GB) for sound, video and multimedia content. It’s fully compatible with Blu-ray specs and can be played on any standard Blu-ray player. In addition to stereo and surround sound, Pure Audio Blu-ray can also handle 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos.
Bock took all the Dolby Atmos mixes that Maurice and his team had created and put them onto Pure Audio Blu-ray so they could be played back in a consumer format that works with any Dolby Atmos enabled AV receiver. While that opens up a world of possibilities for consumers, it also really helped PMC because they had a disc with four different audio formats on it and were able to easily switch between the ATMOS and stereo mixes on the booth for demo purposes.
“The synergy between Stefan’s work and the creation of bespoke Dolby Atmos Music at studios like Capitol is really exciting for both the pro audio world and the consumer market,” Patist adds. “The Dolby Atmos rooms at MSM and Capitol are both fully equipped with PMC monitors, which shows that only PMC, with its links to the world’s leading artists, engineers and studios, is in a position to close the loop between artist, studio and the home. And it did so with something very special in Munich.”