Producer Giles Martin: The Beatles’ ‘Sgt. Pepper’s’ in Spatial Audio on Apple Music doesn’t sound quite right; will be replaced

The Beatles’ producer Giles Martin, in a new interview, delves into the technical marvels and challenges of Apple Music’s Spatial Audio’s three-dimensional sound, explained why the current version of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band won’t stick around much longer, and much more.

The Beatles' Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band album cover

Brian Hiatt for Rolling Stone:

RS: Sgt. Pepper’s was the first Atmos mix you did. What was that process like?

Martin: Sgt. Pepper’s, how it’s being presented right now, I’m actually going to change it. It doesn’t sound quite right to me. It’s out in Apple Music right now. But I’m gonna replace it. It’s good. But it’s not right. Sgt. Pepper’s was, I think, the first album ever mixed in Dolby Atmos. And we did that as a theatrical presentation. I liked the idea of the Beatles being the first to do something. It’s cool that they can still be the first to do something. So Sgt. Pepper’s is a theatrical mix that’s then being converted into a smaller medium. Therefore, it’s not quite right. I’m gonna go back to the theatrical mix and and make it into what’s called near-field Dolby Atmos, as opposed to the cinema Dolby Atmos. It’s a bit bright. It’s a bit digital. But again, I’m gonna replace it, so that’s cool.

RS: Abbey Road does seem to sound quite a bit better. There’s something a little float-y about the way Sgt. Pepper’s sounds right now.

Martin: It seems to lack a bit of bass and a little bit of weight behind it. Abbey Road is a much better-functioning Atmos mix because it’s much closer to to the stereo mix, sonically.

MacDailyNews Take: There is much more in the full interview – recommended – here.


  1. To be honest a lot of the spatial audio stuff sounds meh, or worse. Its pretty clear just putting a track into spatial audio doesn’t guarantee a good outcome. Just like everything else it needs someone who knows what they are doing, and the artist to make it sound good, or you get crap.

    1. Totally true – but The Beatles mixed things back in the day to perfectly match up with Atmos and other sonic fun. I think once they get their albums mixed to their satisfaction, we’ll see more music “made” with this in mind, and it will improve.
      Just the new mixes alone of some of The Beatles’ albums are wonderful – esp for digital.
      I’m finally going to pull the plug and get a high end streaming receiver/amp. The tech is finally appealing for streaming and I want to take advantage of it.

  2. Sergeant Pepper was recorded onto a four track Studer which was fed from an eight channel desk. All the drums would be mixed on to one track, all the vocals to another and so on.

    If you go back to the original studio recordings, each track is a mix of mics, not individual microphones. It wasn’t even recorded in stereo, mono was king in those days, although a stereo LP was released too by remixing for stereo.

    Modern post production enhancements work better with individual microphone tracks. Spacial Audio isn’t at its best when fed with complex mixed tracks. While Spacial Audio can be very impressive, it will struggle on this sort of material.

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