Dolby Atmos Music 80s (2)

Tidal Playlist Review: Dolby Atmos Music: 80s

Whether the 80s make you cringe or smile, the decade’s impact on music is undeniable. Does Tidal’s Dolby Atmos playlist do the decade justice?
By Ben Jacklin

The ‘80s. Love them for the memories, or hate them for the cheesy synths and fashion trends. Either way, pretty much everyone must respect what the decade did for music, opening up a canvas of new sounds, production techniques, and hairstyles to enjoy for years to come. Flock of Seagulls, anyone?

Now, we can enjoy the music of the 1980s like never before, with immersive and lossless mixes available through streaming platforms including Tidal. This collection of Dolby Atmos music works perfectly on many smart devices, and can be enjoyed on soundbars and even headphones. Take a trip down memory road with incredible new spatial audio mixes.

In this playlist, you can really see how many different directions music was headed in, all at the same time. Each with their own set of classic tunes.

The playlist starts with a bang: David Leonard’s remaster of “When Doves Cry” by Prince. This was created from a 96k copy from original tapes, and one of the defining tracks of the era hits differently in 3D, with more space than ever in those crisp riffs and multi tracked vocals epitomise the era. Real ear candy.

We then move to a separate branch of the complex era, but equally catchy tunes including George Clinton’s “Atomic Dog” and a smattering of ballads such as “We Belong” by Pat Benetar. Those crisp, reverberating 80’s snares sound even bigger in this new immersive platform.

Dolby Atmos Music 80s (1)

Other movements from the era of music are also strongly represented in this playlist. Public Enemy’s Hip Hop classic “Don’t Believe the Hype” takes on new punch and nuance with a 2020 spatial mix and a brand new master. New life is breathed into those classic samples, as the rapping pioneers approach from all angles.

The heavier music scene is also represented perfectly in this playlist, showing more of the diversity that was on offer as we moved through the ‘80s. Two Guns N’ Roses tracks that everyone knows made the cut, “Sweet Child O’ Mine” and “Welcome To The Jungle,” show that guitar music was still going strong at this time. They’re not the most incredible Atmos mixes we’ve heard, but they do add a certain something, and for the purposes of the playlist, we wouldn’t be without them.

More hidden gems such as “Lunatic Fringe” by Red Rider and the funky “I Like It” by DeBarge show even more faces of the 1980s, and in spite of being slightly lesser-known than some of the huge artists on this playlist, the mixes are some of the most impressive to experience an immersive audio system.

Tracks from John Lennon’s “ultimate mixes” album, Gimme Some Truth, also work their way onto the playlist, produced in conjunction with Yoko Ono and ‎Sean Lennon. Lennon’s passing in 1980 marked a changing of the guard, and shows how much music evolved in this genre. “(Just Like) Starting Over” proves to be a wonderful ending to a playlist that is an exciting listen for audiophiles who were around to hear the ‘80s the first time.

Whether the 1980s were your heyday, or you’re brand new to the era, hearing these tracks presented in a modern and high fidelity platform is sure to raise a smile (or get your house party buzzing with reminiscence).

Tidal’s description of the playlist:

“On the heels of the disco explosion, the 80s were all about music television, which put music videos out ahead of the songs they were built around. Yet the sheer quality of the songwriting ensured that these songs would stay in rotation forever.”

Listen to the playlist here: link

About the Author

Ben is a writer and musician from the UK with a background in music technology. He writes about engineering and production, musicianship and music equipment for a number of publications including his own site, subreel.com