If you've been wanting to use your Apollo x16 for immersive audio projects, we have fantastic news for you. Universal Audio has just announced that its latest software update includes Dolby Atmos support for the audio interface.

We went straight to the source to learn more about the Apollo x16 update and the role the interface can play in your immersive rig. Check out our conversation with Univeral Audio's Sr. Product Manager Ryan Johns below:

What's happening with this update that makes the Apollo x16 ready for a Dolby Atmos environment?

This update allows customers to select monitor formats that include height channels, such as 7.1.4, which is one of the most common Dolby Atmos speaker configurations. This means that customers have proper monitor control of formats up to 9.1.6, with a single monitor encoder controlling all of the outputs, as well as trims, mutes, and solos for each output.

What was the development process like for the UA team when it came to these updates?

We spent a ton of time researching how systems should be configured, and how mixes should be built, and then we spent a ton of time with the people that are actually mixing in these formats. It was surprising to hear how many compromises had to exist in the customers' workflows just to make things work well. All of this informed the design, and guided us in a direction of finding the simplest way to enable Apollo customers to work in these new formats without having to do a bunch of complex workarounds.

How can the monitor controller on the front of the x16 be best used for Atmos? Are there any new tools for monitor management in Console?

To put it simply, it makes the usual stereo-workflow and the Atmos-workflow the same from a monitoring perspective. The encoder on the face of an x16 controls all of the assigned monitor outputs, and since you can assign up to 9.1.6 as the monitoring format, a customer can control immersive monitoring easily with that one encoder.

Additional monitor management functions include level dim, stereo fold-down, mono fold-down, trim controls for each speaker output, and mute and solos for each speaker output, the last of which honestly is quite fun for listening to Atmos mixes, and soloing up individual speaker outputs, just to see what the mixer placed there.

How will the Apollo x16's converters help impact the immersive listening process?

Apollo x16’s proven A/D and D/A conversion gives you the same elite-class sound heard on thousands of hit songs and chart-topping albums. Widely praised for its open, natural sonics, Apollo's converters give you the perfect palette to paint your masterpiece. With a frequency response accurate within +- 0.02dB across the spectrum from 20Hz to 20kHz, you can be confident that your accurately hearing your mix through every speaker of your immersive set-up.

What makes the Apollo x16 the perfect interface for a Dolby Atmos set-up?

Outside of an x16 being an interface with some of the best D/A specs in its class, the Apollo products have some seriously powerful additional benefits. Pairing an x16 with any of the compatible Apollo desktop interfaces allows remote control of monitoring from the remote desktop controller, and you can even route the binaural mixdown straight to the headphone output on an Apollo Twin X, while having that same Twin remotely control the immersive speaker outputs.

Any of the Apollo interfaces, x16 included, also provide SHARC DSPs for running award-winning UAD-2 Plug-Ins. Often arguments get made that computers are getting faster and faster so there’s less need for DSP, but in the case of Atmos, we’re adding heaps of CPU-load by running a renderer in addition to the DAW, leaving less CPU cycles for plug-ins.

Where do you see UA heading in terms of more developments/updates for immersive audio in the future?

We’ve always got an ear to the needs and desires of the customers, and we already have some additional immersive-audio-related features in progress.

Jacob SchneiderIf you have any questions about gear from Universal Audio or want to set up an immersive audio room, we're here to help! Contact a Vintage King Audio Consultant via email or by phone at 866.644.0160.