How can you evoke emotions through music not only in a studio but also in a car? Dirac and Dolby have collaborated to showcase high-quality audio immersion in cars, and invited Gabriel Lundh, Dolby Atmos Music Mixer and Producer, to experience it. Hear what he says about the experience in the video below. We sat down for a short talk with Gabriel to learn his personal story as a rising music mixer with one of the first Dolby Atmos-equipped recording studios in Sweden.
Tell us about your background. How did you get into music mixing and producing? What was the initial spark?
I started playing bass guitar at an early age, when I was six or so, then me, my brother and a few friends founded a band – it felt like everyone in my town had a rock band around that time. After we got more into it and started playing gigs, my father decided to get a basic recording setup and remodeled our garage into a project studio for me and my brothers. As a result, I began to take a serious interest in the whole recording thing and quickly honed in on mixing in particular. After finishing high school, I decided to start freelancing right away.
What projects and artists have you worked on in your career, and which projects and collaborations stand out? Why?
So far, my freelancing career has taken me down many different paths. At first, I did a lot of commercial film work and promotional stuff, for instance. I have also done things akin to passion projects – sessions I was involved in with musician friends, or artists that I heard about and thought, “We should record this.” Those have been super important for my development, as they were opportunities to try something, to fail, and to try again. And the opportunity to assist the brilliant music producer Peer Åström has been crucial in teaching me how huge projects with large teams function. With him I’ve had the honor to be working on the music for both the FOX tv series “Monarch” and the Netflix musical “The Prom” as well as a new project for Disney. When Atmos came along, I had the opportunity to combine my background in music mixing with my nerdy tech side and got to work with the works of some really fantastic artists like Veronica Maggio, Ace of Base, NOTD and rising stars like Paula Jivén and Graham Lake.
Tell us why you chose to work with Dolby Atmos. What makes it such a great tool?
When I first learned about object-based audio, I thought, “Wow, this is what I’ve been looking for.” I had long felt that, despite everything being digital nowadays, modern music production is still basically done the same way as with two-track-tape: We deliver two files, left and right, and nobody knows anything about the production or the artist’s intention aside from what’s in those two files. Dolby Atmos is the first technology that allows the artist, the producer and the songwriter to say from the start, “Hey, I want this experience in an optimal playback scenario”.
My goal now is to always try and create this “ideal listening experience” for each song and story. And then it’s up to the consumer to choose what playback possibilities they have, whether they have headphones, a soundbar in their living room or even a car with Dolby Atmos. There are now so many available options out there for consumers to get a really intriguing experience for not too much money.
What are some common issues when adopting a studio sound experience in a car? What is at risk of getting lost in translation?
Obviously, the car is a very compact environment, with very little space. Most importantly, you do not sit in the middle of the car, so the sweet spot has to be a compromise. It differs depending on how many people are in the car. For instance, if two or five people want an identical or equivalent sound experience, a balance needs to be struck. The way to tackle this is through alignment, and making use of digital solutions, like Dirac’s tools and algorithms. Without those, it would be incredibly tough to achieve the same results. Sound-wise, there are so many challenges with a car, and so many levels of issues like speaker placement and resonances. This all has to be considered and dealt with.
Tell us about your experience with Dirac in the car. How does it sound, and how does it feel?
First, the Dirac team came to hear how my studio sounds and how the mixes play back in a calibrated room. They were really attentive and trying to absorb everything in order to ensure the sound experience would be similar in a car with their sound optimization solutions. Then once they were done with a draft version of the car sound optimization, I got to listen to it, which was fantastic, and then we discussed it and actually did some tweaking live.
We went back and forth to make some slight adjustments. Seeing how the Dirac software works was really cool. If you change one parameter, it can interact with all the other ones instead of manually having to recalculate the whole system – extremely cool. We listened back to many of the mixes I’ve done and know so well from my room, as well as some other great references. It was so nice to hear that the mixes actually translated the way I wanted to, despite all the acoustic challenges of the car. It was fun to listen to the mixes because I knew how I wanted them to sound and feel, and we managed to get there! That was a happy surprise!
“It was fun to listen to the mixes because I knew how I wanted them to sound and feel, and we managed to get there! That was a happy surprise!”
What’s the best thing about walking into your studio every day and getting to work with different music producers and artists?
I’ve been fortunate to get to work with a wide range of styles and quite often – completely different genres, music, moods and vibes. I believe this is key to keeping on loving it.
If I mix a classical album for example, I usually don’t want to directly reference a top classical album that already exists. I want inspiration to spill over from something else, perhaps something that’s more rock, more punchy. Having the option to jump between projects quickly and then return to older sessions is a real treat and very exciting. I enjoy making projects that interact with each other and my goal is always to evoking emotions through sound.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a career in music and audio production?
I find it crucial to be emotionally committed to a project. Keep deadlines. Make sure to keep up the quality control. Minimize errors. Set up systems, even scripts, to double check for those errors. That’ll make you somebody that people want to work with. Strive to improve. Don’t settle for doing the bare minimum. Get enthusiastic about the project even if you don’t necessarily like the music or agree with it taste-wise, instead get interested in the project holder’s vision. Have fun and further yourself!
Would you like to know more about Dirac’s automotive sound solution?
Reach out to us.