2023 was an incredible year for immersive music fans, with dozens of great albums both vintage and modern given the 5.1 surround sound and/or Dolby Atmos treatment. These are our picks for the top-25 best hi-res physical/digital release of the year.

Artist: Katatonia
Title: Sky Void Of Stars (2023)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Bruce Soord (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 1/20/23

Katatonia Sky Void Of Stars Bruce Soord Dolby Atmos

Swedish rockers Katatonia are no strangers to immersive audio, having first embraced 5.1 surround sound way back in 2006 for the release of their now-classic album The Great Cold Distance. Their following four studio releases–2009’s Night Is The New Day, 2012’s Dead End Kings/Dethroned & Uncrowned, and 2016’s The Fall Of Hearts–also received 5.1 surround mixes, as did the 2015 live album Sanctitude.

Released through Napalm Records in January 2023, Sky Void Of Stars is the band’s 12th studio album and the first to be mixed in Dolby Atmos. As with several of the prior albums, immersive mixes duties are once again handled by Bruce Soord of The Pineapple Thief. The Atmos mix makes interesting use of the ‘phantom’ space between the speakers, placing Jonas Renkse’s lead vocal in both the front and front height channels. Similarly, backing vocals often appear suspended between the rear surrounds and rear heights.

Read our full review here!

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Artist: Orbital
Title: Optical Delusion (2023)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Mark Ayres (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 2/17/23

Orbital Optical Delusion Dolby Atmos

Though we weren’t personally familiar with Orbital prior to the release of Optical Delusion, their tenth studio album, it turns out that the duo (composed of brothers Paul and Phil Hartnol) had been making music since the early 1990s. After receiving worldwide attention following their headline performance at the 1994 Glastonbury Festival, the band went on to score two UK top five albums with that same year’s Snivilisation and 1996’s In Sides.

The band recruited British audio engineer Mark Ayres (best known for his mixing work at the BBC Radiophonic Workshop) to mix the album in 5.1 surround sound & Dolby Atmos, and he’s done a masterful job. Right from the opening notes of the first track, the electronic kick and snare sounds alternate between the front and rear speakers–creating the impression of standing within a massive sample-based drum kit–as various synthesizer and vocal layers begin to build from all around the room.

Read our full review here!

Artist: Ten Years After
Title: A Space In Time (1973)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Chris Kimsey & Kurt Martinez (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos), Larry Keyes & Al Lawrence (Quadraphonic)
Release Date: 3/15/23

Ten Years After A Space In Time Dolby Atmos

To celebrate A Space In Time’s belated 50th anniversary, SuperDeluxeEdition.com has come out with a limited-run Pure Audio Blu-Ray disc featuring multiple high-resolution stereo and spatial audio mixes. The disc includes a whopping five(!) unique audio options, including brand new stereo, 5.1 & Dolby Atmos remixes as well as the original 1971 stereo mix and rare 1973 quadraphonic version.

A Space In Time was the band’s first release under the Columbia Records banner, and thus was chosen as an early candidate for said label’s relatively brief foray into the experimental four channel quadraphonic surround format. The quadraphonic mix treats all four speakers as equal partners, with key music elements such as Alvin Lee’s scorching guitar leads and even Ric Lee’s drum kit appearing fully isolated in the rear speakers.

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Artist: Richard Houghten
Title: Color Dojo (2023)
Format:  Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Jon Niess (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 3/17/23

Richard Houghten Color Dojo Dolby Atmos Austin Signal

Richard Houghten is a multi-instrumentalist, audio collage artist, and recording engineer from Southern California. He releases music under his own name as well as Bloomypetaland (in collaboration with beat maker Brandon Burger) A Cosmic Gift. His latest release, Color Dojo (2023), was recorded entirely in the span of a two-week trip to Pittsburgh. 

The album takes its name from artist Baron Batch's art studio in Pittsburgh. Houghten recorded in the massive studio loft while Batch painted huge ten-by-ten foot canvases. The Dolby Atmos mix was created at Austin Signal Studios in Texas.

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Artist: Mr. Big
Title: Mr. Big (1989)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Chris Bell & Michael Romanowski (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 4/21/23

Mr. Big Evosound Dolby Atmos

In the Summer of 2021, Evolution Music Group (evoXS) surprised audiophiles and immersive music enthusiasts by issuing a 5.1 surround SACD of California hair metal band Mr. Big's classic 1991 studio album Lean Into It. Naturally, fans began to speculate whether or not the band’s 1989 self-titled debut would receive a similar deluxe reissue. Such conjecture proved correct in January 2023, when evoXS announced a 5.1 SACD of the album with remastered stereo & new 5.1 remixes for release on April 21, 2023.

Chris Bell and Michael Romanowski’s immersive interpretation of the album is impressive, especially given the relatively limited number of elements in play. The album sounds quite ‘big’ in stereo, but in reality the core four-piece band’s studio performance is augmented only by the occasional background vocal, guitar, or percussion overdub.

Read our full review here!

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Artist: Tears For Fears
Title: The Hurting (1983)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 6/9/23

Tears For Fears The Hurting Dolby Atmos Steven Wilson

It seemed unlikely that Tears For Fears’ classic 1983 debut would be revisited again after the extensive 30th anniversary reissue, but SuperDeluxeEdition.com and Universal Music have teamed up to deliver what is surely the final word on the album in this fantastic new 40th anniversary Pure Audio Blu-Ray. Not only does it include new remixes by Steven Wilson in stereo (both vocal and instrumental versions), 5.1, and Dolby Atmos, but also a brand new remaster of the original 1983 stereo mix and never-before-heard early renditions of “Mad World” and “Watch Me Bleed” produced by Mike Howlett.

Though the position of each element varies throughout, the 5.1 surround mixes typically utilize the rear speakers for digital percussion, synthesizers, guitars, and backing vocals, while the rhythm section is arrayed across the front channels and lead vocals take up residence in the center channel. The Dolby Atmos mixes take the immersion even further with the addition of the side surround channels and four overhead speakers. 

Read our full review here!

Artist: The Pineapple Thief
Title: How Did We Find Our Way? 1999-2006 (2023)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Bruce Soord (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 6/23/23

Pineapple Thief How Did We Find Our Way Dolby Atmos Bruce Soord 5.1 Cyclops KScope

Ever since Bruce Soord first embraced immersive audio for his 2015 self-titled solo album, immersive music fans have wondered if he’d ever consider going back and remixing the band’s vast discography for surround. The new How Did We Find Our Way? 1999-2006 box set finally answers that question, featuring new 5.1 & Dolby Atmos mixes of the albums Abducting The Unicorn/Abducted At Birth (1999), One Three Seven (2002), Variations On A Dream (2003), 8 Days (2003) 8 Days Later (2004), 10 Stories Down (2005), and Little Man (2006).

Soord has outdone himself on this set, with nearly 9 hours(!) of music remixed in 5.1 surround & Dolby Atmos. The Atmos mixes interestingly tend to feature a good bit of dry drum signal in the height speakers (in addition to isolated elements like backing vocals, synths, and rhythm guitars): it really does give that interesting effect of being in a 'bubble' of sound, with the kit floating in space instead of being tied to just the front channels.

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Artist: Black Sabbath
Title: Paranoid (Quadio) (1970)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Mike Butcher (Quadraphonic)
Release Date: 6/23/23

Black Sabbath Paranoid Quadio Rhino Blu-Ray

Perhaps in response to the success entities such as SuperDeluxeEdition.com and Cherry Red/Esoteric Recordings have found with immersive music on Blu-Ray, Rhino Entertainment–Warner Brothers’ catalog division–have suddenly revived their their long-gestating series of “Quadio” reissues containing newly-remastered digital transfers of quadraphonic mixes from the 1970s.

Though Paranoid was originally released in September 1970, the quadraphonic version (mixed by Mike Butcher at Morgan Studios in London) wasn’t issued until 1974. Butcher’s quad mix–while perhaps a bit ‘gimmicky’ by today’s standards, with its copious use of panning and swirling effects–does open up the album in an effective manner, separating out a lot of Tony Iommi’s guitar work and percussion into the rear speakers. “War Pigs” features Bill Ward’s thunderous drumming crashing all around the room, while Ozzy Osbourne’s unmistakable vocals fill up all channels.

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Artist: Suede
Title: Suede (1993)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 7/7/23

Suede Blu-Ray Dolby Atmos 5.1 Steven Wilson

Though Suede never really took off in the US, their self-titled debut album–released in March 1993 and widely considered to be the first-ever ‘britpop’ album–was an instant phenomenon in the UK and eventually became one of the fastest-selling albums in British history. The album was recorded on a shoestring budget, but Steven Wilson manages to pull off that difficult trick of getting it to translate remarkably well into immersive audio. As with all great surround sound reinventions of classic albums, the newfound channel separation allows you to step inside the record and appreciate the subtler details.

“So Young” kicks off with Brett Anderson’s vocals ("she can...start...to walk out") alternating left and right between the front height speakers before settling in the center channel. The guitars fill up the room, spread from front to rear, while double-tracked vocals and ‘you-are-there’ ambience rain down from above. There’s even a brief appearance of piano in the rear surrounds prior to the final chorus.

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Artist: Ultravox
Title: Quartet (1982)
Format: DVD
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround)
Release Date: 7/7/23

Ultravox Quartet 5.1 DVD Steven Wilson Chrysalis

Quartet was Ultravox’s sixth overall studio LP and the third to feature the classic line-up of Midge Ure (lead vocals & guitar), Chris Cross (bass), Billy Currie (keyboards & violin), and Warren Cann (drums). As with his excellent work on the recent reissues of Vienna (1980) and Rage In Eden (1981), Steven Wilson's new 5.1 mix makes extensive use of the rear speakers for isolated synthesizers, guitars, and harmony vocals. 

“Reap The Wild Wind” kicks into gear with the background vocal chorus mixed entirely to the back of the room, while Midge Ure’s centered lead vocal alternates with rear channel chants of “take my hand.” Double-tracked vocals and piano pop up from behind for "Serenade," with “Hymn” again showcasing a steady diet of synthesizers and percussion in the rear speakers. There are even some fun passages where elements move around the room, such as the intro to “Serenade” and breakdown of “We Came To Dance.”

Read our full review here!

Artist: A Bad Think
Title: Short St. (2023)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Bob Clearmountain (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 7/7/23

A Bad Think Short St Michael Marquart Dolby Atmos Bob Clearmountain

Just over a year after the release of X (2022), Michael Marquart has impressively managed to write, record & produce an entirely new 12-track album. Much like the prior three releases, Short St. covers a lot of ground genre-wise with elements of country/western, more mainstream ‘feel-good' pop/rock, progressive rock, and various other styles in between.

As with most of Bob Clearmountain’s 5.1 and Dolby Atmos mixes, the separation of the instruments is extreme. The center channel once again acts as the focal point of the surround presentation, featuring not only dry lead vocals but also bass guitar, kick drum, lead guitar, and percussion. 

Read our full review here!

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Artist: ABC
Title: The Lexicon Of Love (1982)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 8/4/23

ABC Lexicon Blu-Ray Atmos 5.1 Steven Wilson

Originally produced by ZTT Records founder and former Yes member Trevor Horn, ABC's The Lexicon Of Love reached the top of the UK album chart and spawned four top-20 singles; "Tears Are Not Enough", "Poison Arrow", "The Look of Love" and "All Of My Heart. Groundbreaking at the time, the album combined elements of new wave, disco, punk, and even Cole Porter-esque orchestration for a wholly-unique result.

Steven Wilson's Atmos mix really showcases Trevor Horn’s opulent production, revealing tons of interesting details that were buried in the stereo version. Anne Dudley’s orchestration throughout “Valentine’s Day” and “The Look Of Love” is featured primarily from above, along with some previously-unheard percussion and synth blasts. The rear channel shouts of ‘who got the look!’ and ‘where’s the look!’ were expected in the latter tune, but very entertaining nonetheless.

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Artist: Peter Schilling
Title: 40 Years Of Major Tom - New Adventures (2023)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Tom Ammermann (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 8/18/23

Peter Schilling Major Tom Dolby Atmos

To commemorate the 40th anniversary of his breakthrough release, Peter Schilling and Warner Music issued a new extended and remastered greatest hits collection spanning four decades of Peter Schilling.  ow, the celebration continues with an immersive release featuring nine tracks personally selected by Schilling himself. The Dolby Atmos versions were produced by Peter Schilling, mixed by Tom Ammermann and mastered by Michael Romanowski.

“Major Tom” kicks off with dancing all around the listening space while drums & bass take up residence across the front three speakers. Schilling’s whispered backing vocals appear largely from the front height speakers, with harmonies popping up from behind. Lead vocals interestingly appear largely from the top speakers during the chorus.

Read our full review here!

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Artist: Jethro Tull
Title: The Broadsword & The Beast (1982)
Format: DVD
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround)
Release Date: 9/1/23

Jethro Tull Broadsword 5.1 DVD Steven Wilson

Jethro Tull’s musical development from their 1968 debut This Was through to the band's peak popularity in the mid-70s (1971’s Aqualung and 1972’s Thick As A Brick) and beyond is quite fascinating to follow, as they quickly discarded the more blues-oriented sound of the first three albums into their truly unique brand of progressive rock with shades of medieval folklore and other celtic influences.

The band would interestingly opt to veer into more experimental waters for 1980’s A, though 1982's The Broadsword & The Beast marks a return to simpler straight-ahead rock compositions with less in the way of odd time signatures and eclectic instrumentation. Similar to Wilson’s past 5.1 remixes of the Jethro Tull back-catalog, the rear speakers are used quite extensively throughout for ancillary elements like flute, backing & double-tracked vocals, keyboards, strings, rhythm (and in some cases lead) guitar, and percussion.

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Artist: Ryan Ulyate
Title: Act 3 (Immersive Edition) (2023)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Ryan Ulyate (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 9/12/23

Ryan Ulyate Act 3 Dolby Atmos

Ryan Ulyate has been recording, mixing and producing music professionally since 1978. Ulyate’s latest project is Act 3, his debut album as a solo artist. Inspired by the bands he listened to while growing up, and produced especially for Dolby Atmos, it’s a tapestry of classic British and California rock. In November 2023, Act 3 was nominated for the Grammy award for Best Immersive Audio Album.

“Dreamland” kicks the proceedings off in style with Ulyate’s layered vocals surrounding the listener, before blasting off into full immersion with the drums filling up the entire space at ear level, acoustic rhythm guitars upfront, an electric rhythm part in the side surrounds, and lead guitar fills popping out of the front heights. Lead vocals are loudest in the center speaker, but some additional dry signal spills over a bit into the front and side channels for a more cohesive experience.

Read our full review here!

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Artist: The Who
Title: Who's Next / Life House (1971)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 9/15/23

Who's Next 5.1 Atmos Blu-Ray Steven Wilson

The new Who’s Next / Life House Super Deluxe Edition delivered the final word on this iconic period of the band, including dozens of previously-unheard studio and live recordings from 1970-72 across a massive 11-disc box set. The most exciting aspect of this reissue for audiophiles is undoubtedly the Blu-Ray disc containing brand-new stereo, 5.1 surround sound & Dolby Atmos remixes of the original nine-song Who’s Next album and fourteen(!) associated studio recordings by Steven Wilson. 

Though Who’s Next is perhaps not as densely-layered as other albums from this era that Steven Wilson has remixed in 5.1 surround or Dolby Atmos, such as King Crimson’s Lizard (1970) or Yes’ The Yes Album (1971), he’s nonetheless made the most of the limited (by today’s standards) original multitrack recordings to craft an exciting new immersive experience chock full of detail yet also faithful and respectful to the original production.

Read our full review here!

Artist: Bruce Soord
Title: Luminescence (2023)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: Bruce Soord (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 9/22/23

Bruce Soord Luminescence Dolby Atmos

Luminescence features some of Bruce Soord’s most beautiful compositions to date, accentuated by a brilliant six-piece string section recorded at London’s famous RAK studio. Much like 2019’s All This Will Be Yours, this is not a hard-rocking record. Those looking for the bombast of Pineapple Thief songs like “Alone At Sea” or “Tear Your Up” won’t find it here. 

This Dolby Atmos mix ranks among the most compelling uses of the immersive technology we’ve heard to date. It really does sound like the album was composed with the format in mind, rather than a 'retrofit' done after-the-fact. Soord makes masterful use of the ‘phantom’ spaces between the speakers, creating the eerie impression of being inside a dome-like space where the physical speakers seem to fade into the background.

Read our full review here!

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Artist: Steven Wilson
Title: The Harmony Codex (2023)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 9/29/23

Steven Wilson Harmony Codex Atmos 5.1 Blu-Ray

Perhaps more so than any prior effort, The Harmony Codex makes for a perfect encapsulation of Steven Wilson as a solo artist. All the different sides of his songwriting are present here: everything from the jazz-fusion stylings of 2013’s The Raven That Refused To Sing (“Impossible Tightrope”) to Tangerine Dream-esque ambient soundscapes (“The Harmony Codex”) and the electronic ‘coldness’ of songs like “King Ghost” or “Man Of The People” from 2021’s The Future Bites (“Economies Of Scale”) pops up in some form, yet somehow it all sounds fresh and not reminiscent of past offerings.

The Dolby Atmos mix of The Harmony Codex is such a powerful, expansive listening experience that we can only surmise it was composed and produced with spatial audio in mind. The immersive mixes are so amazing that we haven’t even bothered to listen to the dedicated stereo version, though it’ll be interesting to see how he was able to cram all this information into a traditional two-channel stereo soundstage.

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Artist: XTC
Title: The Big Express (1984)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 9/29/23

XTC Big Express 5.1 Atmos Steven Wilson Blu-Ray

Whereas 1983’s Mummer leaned further into their pastoral acoustic side, The Big Express–as its title cleverly implies–goes ‘full steam ahead’ with some of XTC’s most ambitiously-arranged uptempo songs to date. We’d argue that it’s kind of an interesting transitional work in their career, retaining some of the frenetic quirky energy of past outings while also showcasing the more-mature songwriting and sophisticated production that characterizes much of their later work.

After listening to the new 5.1 & Dolby Atmos mixes, it becomes abundantly clear that a traditional two-channel stereo soundstage was simply not enough to accurately express the band’s grandiose vision for this album. Though it’s obviously a retrofit surround sound experience, The Big Express translates so seamlessly into these immersive formats that it almost sounds like it was recorded with multichannel reproduction in mind.

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Artist: Monkey House
Title: Friday (2019)
Format: Digital Download
Immersive Mix By: John 'Beetle' Bailey (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 10/12/23

Monkey House Friday Dolby Atmos Alma Records

Nearly four years after the album topped the iTunes Jazz chart and received a Juno Award nomination for Jazz Vocal Album of the Year, engineer John ‘Beetle’ Bailey has undertaken a brand-new remix of Monkey House’s Juno award-nominated Friday in Dolby Atmos. Already a sonic marvel in traditional two-channel stereo, the new immersive mix is a must-hear experience for audiophiles and fans of the band.

“10,000 Hours” kicks things off with a bang, as the razor-sharp staccato horns pop out of the side & rear surround speakers while the rhythm section fills up the front soundstage. Don Breithaupt’s lead vocal appears loudest in the center channel (along with some dry bass and snare drum), with double-tracked and harmony parts attacking from behind.

Read our full review here!

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Artist: King Crimson
Title: Larks Tongues In Aspic (1973)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 10/13/23

King Crimson Larks 50 Dolby Atmos Blu-Ray Steven Wilson

In what is surely the final word on King Crimson’s 1973 avant-garde epic, the new 2CD/2Blu-Ray deluxe edition contains brand-new stereo, 5.1 & Dolby Atmos remixes from Steven Wilson. Some may recall that Wilson previously remixed this album in stereo & 5.1 for the 2012 CD/DVD-A release, but–as part of the process for creating the Dolby Atmos version included in this new four-disc 50th anniversary edition–he’s additionally gone back and created new stereo & 5.1 mixes from scratch. 

The most exciting aspect of this new release would have to be the Dolby Atmos mix, which will certainly become my go-to version of this album from now on. The Atmos mix builds upon the strong foundation of the new 5.1, spreading the instrumentation onto an even larger canvas to absolutely stunning effect. The height speakers are active participants throughout the album, spotlighting key musical elements such as Muir’s percussion, Cross’ violin, Wetton’s backing vocals, and even Fripp’s guitar at times.

Read our full review here!

Artist: Yes
Title: The Yes Album (1971)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Steven Wilson (5.1 Surround & Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 11/24/23

Yes Album Atmos Rhino Steven Wilson Blu-Ray

With Yes’ back catalog now under the purview of Rhino Entertainment–Warner Brothers’ catalog division–the 2023 CD/LP/Blu-Ray Super Deluxe Edition of The Yes Album likely marks the beginning of a new reissue campaign. As such, Steven Wilson was asked to create a new Dolby Atmos mix of the album to complement his 2014 5.1 surround rendition.

Though I’ve long felt that The Yes Album ranked among his best 5.1 efforts, this new Atmos mix simply has to be heard to be believed. The four height speakers are treated not just as a novelty addition, but full-on ‘equal partners’ in the mix. In addition to ‘you-are-there’ reverbs and delays, they carry a number of ‘main’ elements such as lead guitar, keyboard, and background vocals.

Read our full review here!

Artist: Frank Zappa & The Mothers
Title: Over-Nite Sensation (1973)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Karma Auger & Erich Gobel (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 11/27/23

Frank Zappa Overnite 50 Blu-Ray Atmos 5.1

Nearly one year after the acclaimed Waka/Wazoo reissue hit shelves, The Zappa Family Trust and Universal Music Group have joined forces once more to bring fans a similarly-packed 50th anniversary release of 1973’s Over-Nite Sensation. The album is notable for the uncredited appearance of Tina Turner & The Ikettes on backing vocals during several songs, including fan-favorite “Montana.” It was also Frank Zappa's first release to receive a gold certification from the RIAA.

The new Dolby Atmos mix is truly an assault on the senses, with all 11 speakers in a 7.1.4 system getting their due. Frank Zappa’s lead vocal in songs like “Camarillo Brillo” and “Montana” remains to some degree 'omnipresent' (appearing simultaneously in the center channel, front heights, and rears at near-equal level), yet other elements such as keyboards, horns, backing vocals, percussion, and even guitar solos appear completely behind or above the listener.

Read our full review here!

Artist: Peter Gabriel
Title: i/o (2023)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Hans-Martin Buff (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 12/1/23

Peter Gabriel Dolby Atmos Blu-ray

i/o, Peter Gabriel’s long-awaited tenth studio album, is a project nearly three decades in the making. Once the recording sessions concluded in Summer 2022, acclaimed mixing engineers Mark 'Spike' Stent (Madonna, Green Day, Foo Fighters) and Tchad Blake (Sheryl Crow, The Black Keys, Suzanne Vega) were each asked to submit a mix. The pros and cons of each rendition continue to be debated within the audiophile community, but both stereo interpretations pale in comparison to the third version: Hans-Martin Buff’s ‘In-Side Mix’ in Dolby Atmos. 

The Atmos mix is just as intricate as the music itself, with each song approached in a unique way that brings out the best in the composition. The denser tracks like “The Court” and “Road To Joy” offer the active full-on immersive experience with instruments all around that listeners might expect, while the simpler piano-and-vocal songs like “Playing For Time” and “So Much” fill out the room in a more subtle fashion.

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Artist: Van Morrison
Title: Moondance (1970)
Format: Blu-Ray
Immersive Mix By: Elliot Scheiner (5.1 Surround), Steven Wilson (Dolby Atmos)
Release Date: 12/1/23

Van Morrison Dolby Atmos 5.1 Blu-Ray Steven Wilson Elliot Scheiner

Immersive music fans may recall that in 2013, Warner Brothers/Rhino issued a 4CD/Blu-Ray deluxe edition of Moondance featuring a new 5.1 surround sound version from original mix engineer Elliot Scheiner. As is often the case with his surround sound mixes, the 5.1 version put the listener in the center of the performance with key musical elements such as the horns, acoustic guitar, backing vocals, and even the drum kit in “Crazy Love” in the rear speakers.

The new 2023 standalone Blu-Ray release contains not only Scheiner’s 5.1, but also a new Dolby Atmos mix from Steven Wilson. Wilson’s Atmos interpretation of the album spreads the instrumentation wide, carrying over many of the hard left & right pans from the original 1970 stereo mix. The opening track, “And It Stoned Me,” immediately fills out the entire 7.1.4 soundstage with the rhythm section upfront, lead vocal in the center channel, acoustic guitars in the sides, piano in the rears, and horns in the heights. Plate reverb was key to the sound of Moondance and much of it appears in the height speakers, giving the entire presentation a live-sounding ‘you-are-there’ quality.

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