If you want to know the most interesting Spatial Audio mixes currently available to blast through your headphones, Techradar’s Top 10 List is an unbeatable place to start. To show what makes Apple Music’s spatial audio interesting when it comes to music, rather than movies, these picks stand out.
It’s very beautiful. But as with every new music format, it’s most often the old and the big ones who get the first dibs. And we don’t think that’s fair – after all, Fleetwood Mac (to pick an example not entirely at random) has plenty of great songs and is deeply popular to this day – but it doesn’t automatically follow that the songs of Fleetwood Macs will either a) sound better in a Spatial Audio mix, or b) they’re the best songs to demonstrate exactly what Spatial Audio is capable of.
The list of albums that deserve the Apple Music Spatial Audio treatment is, of course, both long and subjective. But if we’re writing a wish list, we have to start somewhere. To the right? So here are 10 albums that we believe could make Spatial Audio the only way to listen to music…
1. Miles Davis – In a silent way
At the time of this album’s release, Miles Davis was a dominant figure in American music and debate on In a Silent Way. rages. Is it jazz? Is it rock? It’s definitely electric… And it was edited from a single three-hour session by producer Teo Macero – is that even allowed?
What in a silent way is unmistakably the kind of open, spacious and precise recording that calls for Spatial Audio processing. The idea of being in the middle of all that virtuosity, all that extraordinarily lyrical playing, all that poignant whispers and silences, all that warm analog tonality (and all that endlessly repeating hi-hat playing ) is convincing.
2. Can – Tago Mago
For a group made up of such accomplished musicians, there was always a very pleasant release in Can. Many of their most famous recordings emerged from seemingly endless jam sessions, and sometimes – through Tago Mago, for example – it really shows.
There are many reasons why this album would be suitable for a Spatial Audio mix, with the many fine details and transient sounds occurring in what is currently the highest background among them. But above all, the thought of sitting on Jaki Liebezeit’s drum stool while he demonstrates his absolute mastery of the kit is almost too exciting to bear.
3. The Upset – Super Ape
The late Lee ‘Scratch’ Perry was an acclaimed master of the recording studio, able to extract the most remarkable and singular sounds from the TASCAM 8-track at his legendary Black Ark studio in Kingston, Jamaica.
The fundamental sonic signature of dub reggae – subterranean bass, endless resonance and reverb, dry drums and, above all, massive empty spaces – is almost entirely the invention of Perry, and Super Ape (credited to his studio band The Upsetters) is a prime example of the type. And it’s designed for Spatial Audio, which is so adept at separating and individualizing specific elements of a recording. Sometimes absence is as important as presence, as a Spatial Audio mix of this album would prove. I guarantee it.
4. The Smiths – The Queen is Dead
Before Morrissey became a tinfoil hat irrelevant, he was the dark and hilarious Alan Bennett of indie. And before Johnny Marr became a Rickenbacker 330 master, he was, well, a Rickenbacker 330 master. they achieved it through an unbeatable combination of musical skill, superior songwriting and skillful production.
This album is already alive with the feel of musicians operating as a single unit, leaning on the music as an entity and thus giving it flight. A Spatial Audio mix could only enhance their impact, allowing each carefully considered part of the recording to be illuminated even as it fits seamlessly into the recording as a whole.
5. PJ Harvey – Get Rid of Me
At the time of the release of her second album, Polly Jean was already preparing to dissolve her eponymous trio and go it alone. But before that happened, she (and Island Records) tapped into the singular talents of Steve Albini to “record” (not “produce”, god no).
If it’s brutality you want, aggression and attack, this album has it in spades. Albini’s insistence on festooning the recording studio with microphones to capture every shred of information, resulted in a sound truly unlike any other. If Harvey says Albini is “the only person I know who can record a drum set and it sounds like you’re standing in front of a drum set. It doesn’t appear to have gone through a recording process or come out of the speakers” is true in stereo, imagine what that would sound like as a Spatial Audio mix.
6. The Roots – Things Fall Apart
The Roots’ insistence on an organic, instrument-based sound that could be convincingly reproduced on stage isn’t the only thing that sets them apart from the majority of turn-of-the-century hip-hop attire, but it didn’t. not been the case. all bad. And when combined with an absolute torrent of creativity, the result is the timeless Things Fall Apart.
There’s so much going on over the course of this record, with competing elements both rap-wise and its musical background. A sympathetic Spatial Audio mix would make it easier to understand the cut-and-paste elements, the whipped drums of Questlove, the unparalleled flow of Black Thought… In fact, the more I think about it, the more I insist it happens.
7. Explosions in the sky – Earth is not a cold, dead place
When a “pop” record is as oppressive as it is spacious, when it’s entirely instrumental, when its 45-minute runtime is long enough for just five tracks, and when its need for significant headroom is as pronounced as it is is here, well… surely that’s the kind of thing Spatial Audio was designed for?
Much of what makes Earth not a cold, dead place a remarkable recording is the attention to harmonics, note decay, real and literal sound. And the more room these elements have to stretch, the greater the distance between individual sounds, the more immersive and absorbing a recording will be.
8. Sergei Prokofiev/Evgeny Mravinsky/Leningrad Symphony Orchestra – Romeo and Juliet Suite 2
Yes, it’s an audience delight and one of the biggest hits in modern classical music (you know, an orchestral piece is relatively contemporary when it includes saxophones), but there’s a reason for that: Romeo and Juliet is a work of direct genius.
Orchestral music benefits endlessly from Spatial Audio processing. The layout of the Stage, its width, depth and relative height are made explicit rather than implied (because they are in stereo). And this specific recording in particular would sound like spectacular like a Spatial Audio mix – not only would the tiny entrances of the one playing the triangle at the back of the stage become more pronounced (for example), but the one coughing and fidgeting in their seat in the audience could be identified and punished. Unless some sort of statute of limitations applies, of course.
9. Burial – Fake
There’s something ghostly and trance-like about Untrue – if ‘falling asleep on the night bus and incorporating the outside sounds into your dreams’ has an audio equivalent, this album just might be it. It’s not easy to be soothing, disturbing and downright odd during a single album, but Untrue is all of these things, all at once and all the time.
It is this tangible sense of otherness and transience that would most obviously benefit from Spatial Audio processing. Burial here aims for a sense of impermanence and dislocation, and the amount of space (no pun intended) that a Spatial Audio mix provides can only accentuate that. Plus, being among those beats would never get old.
10. Eartheater – Phoenix: The flames are the dew on my skin
For her fourth album, Alexandra Drewchin abandoned the rather overwhelming electronic basis of her previous recordings in favor of bittersweet string arrangements. His surprisingly flexible and versatile voice also rose to prominence, and the result remains one of the most notable albums of this decade.
No doubt a Spatial Audio mix would make it even more remarkable. To be among the massed string instruments, with the harp given its own little platform, as Drewchin hums, howls and mumbles his stories. To be able to make sense of his wordplay, rather than picking up snippets of it as it’s engulfed by sharp, scraped instrumentation. To find out exactly what is going on here. Is that too much to ask?