El Spatial Audio Romance-O

Sum-sum-summertime is officially in full-full-full swing, which means cueing up the latest five-spot of my all-new Atmos recommendations here in Spatial Audio File can only lead to many fun, fun, fun hi-res listening times ahead.

As always, each track herein has been fondly and thoroughly test-driven aurally via personal listening sessions on both my home system and headphones alike. As you’ll soon find out when you scroll and read on down, the artists themselves totally get why listening to the very best offerings of immersive Spatial Audio and Dolby Atmos tracks available in the always expanding Apple Music library is the right way to go.

And this week’s quintet of winning summertime fun immersive tracks are. . .


Nothing screams “box office hit” quite like a big-tent Tom Cruise summertime movie, especially with the goodwill cache Top Gun: Maverick already has built into its DNA. Naturally, truly legit blockbuster movies must have blockbuster soundtracks to accompany them, and if they’re helmed by international superstars of the caliber of Lady Gaga, like Top Gun: Maverick is—even better! Gaga doesn’t disappoint in the least, as she turns in one of the most affecting power ballads of her career, “Hold My Hand,” which will literally take your breath away in Atmos. (Fans of the original Top Gun will instantly get that reference to Berlin’s still-moving “Take My Breath Away,” the No. 1 single from the first movie’s 1986 soundtrack.)

Co-produced by Gaga, BloodPop, and Benjamin Rice, “Hold My Hand” is the perfect blend of arena-ready, cell-phone-waving-inducing hooks and choruses, all balanced on a light electronic bed track to boot. Gaga’s electro-warbled vocals that open “Hand” are spread wide in the ether and slightly back in the mix, overtop the gentlest of synth accompaniment before she takes over centerfield with the reassuring title phrase and its subsequent support line, “Hold my hand / It’ll be ok.” The restraint Gaga shows in how she makes sure the character of her voice here soothes rather than pummels or preaches over the course of the next few lines is yet more evidence of how truly gifted a singer she is.

A caress of an echo tracks just a millisecond behind Gaga on the ensuing lines as her vocal now rules the full soundfield. Her vowel extension on “again” rolls just right of center, the meter of the next line following suit as she literally gets “to the end.”

Gaga pauses for a beat until an ’80s-style snare drum hit thunderously announces itself up the middle, and then her full emotive range begins to emerge on the pre-chorus. The synth accompaniment is distributed wider still so only the vocal and the drum pattern dominate the core of the mix, the words at the end of each line now echoing and swirling around you like the aural equivalent of a warm, comforting hug. When she gets to the linchpin line, “Promise me / you’ll just hold my hand,” Gaga is positioned just left of center—but there’s no question at this point she’s also burrowed herself directly inside our hearts.

Additional percussion elements come into play on the next verses, sometimes over to the left, sometimes off to the right (just like Gaga’s vocal does from time to time)—and, hey, you’ll even be able to now discern some power-ballad guitar riffage for good measure. Also be sure to take in the full scope of Gaga’s full-lunged take on the title phrase with about 30 seconds left in the track, rightly buttressed by supportive, unleashed electric guitar riffage like the best power ballads do until the final phrase, “I heard from the heavens” echoes then fades up into the heights like a fighter jet heading over the horizon.

The mighty wings behind “Hold My Hand” all serve to make it the kind of song we all need right now, the perfect summer elixir if ever there was one. For all these reasons and more, Lady Gaga holds the keys to our handpicked favorite Made for Spatial Audio track of the week.


Last week, I had the honor of interviewing John Doe about the making of his stunning May 2022 solo album Fables in a Foreign Land—as well as other undeniable alt-punk classics like his longtime band X’s masterstroke debut, April 1980’s Los Angeles—for a sister publication to be named later. Once Doe found out I was a diehard Atmos supporter, he was quite eager for me to hear the Spatial Audio version of Land, and based on just how stellar the organic, live-off-the-floor nature of this album is represented in Atmos, I’m simply over the moon with my added appreciation of it.

My current favorite Land track is the colorful character boasting that permeates “E Romance-O.” Doe enlisted Los Lobos guitarist/songwriter Louie Pérez to translate a good amount of the song’s lyrics into Spanish to lend it an even more authentic feel, a decision that pays numerous storytelling dividends. Doe’s gritty acoustic guitar strums open the track by moving from the center to the left, while his in-Spanish vocals stay center left. Meanwhile, Kevin Smith (on loan from Willie Nelson’s band) adds resonant, and deeply resonating, standup bass tones behind Doe that should send shivers down your spine.

The recording is so tight and true that you’ll also hear Doe’s fingers squeak and move up and down the fretboard, along with some of his knocks and rustles on the body of the guitar itself.

When Doe extends the phrase, “heart in pieces” just above the main field, Conrad Choucroun’s supple, minimalist drumming arrives down the middle, the proper soft but anchoring touch required for such subject matter and arrangement. Doe’s vocal, now in English, wanders to the right before returning to the center, almost like he turned his head for a moment to scan the room. Smith’s bass slides back in the mix just as it should by the time Doe gets to singing the song subject’s self-ascribed nickname. The drums get louder as Doe’s acoustic strumming rolls left ever so briefly before the vocal line returns up the middle, this time rolling just center right and back.

Doe’s brief, acoustified solo is fully embedded off to the left just as timely, echo-laden handclaps enter in the middle like Zorro’s whipcracks. My favorite lines, “He thought he was beloved / but he was below” come with about 45 second left in the song, and they just cinched the overall magnificence of the track for me, truth be told. (Actually, I first heard “below” as “be-loathed,” but the former works exactly as Doe intended.)

In short, “El Romance-O” is nothing short of el terrifico in its full Atmos glory.


English singer/songwriter Liam Gallagher has never been one to suffer fools gladly (see: Oasis), and his third solo album, May 2022’s cheekily titled C’Mon, You Know, only ups the ante on his mastery of hard-hitting British alt-rock. The proof lies within the meat of the lead single “Everything’s Electric,” which absolutely teems with energy in Spatial Audio.

A sludgy bassline opens the track right up the middle, with layered electric guitars spread wide across the field before a sneering windmill riff Pete Townshend would certainly approve takes center stage. Gallagher enters the picture in the middle on high with a deep inhale of a breath, and when he gets to the line, “with a headful of dreams at night,” the echoed last words recoil back into the field like a reverse-spiraling infinite funhouse mirror image, giving it and a number of successive lines the exact right off-kilter but quite grounding intention.

When Gallagher gets to the pre-chorus, the bass and drums drop out and a cleaner guitar strum wraps behind him before the drums return, somewhat more supportive and less aggressive. His wordless “oohs” stay on the plane along with the band accompaniment as a counter guitar line burrows further back in the middle zone.

Gallagher’s lead vocals begin to roll across the stage from left to right, retaining the echo and the intent. His next round of tackling the “oohs” rolls to the left and then back to the center again as the counter guitar takes on more prominence in the middle. When Gallagher is getting ready to announce the final “everything’s electric” near the denouement of the track, you’re already anticipating the impact of the payoff.

The lad always did have a knack for hammering home hooks and melodies of the highest earwig order, and Gallagher’s done it here yet again, boyo. Bottom line: “Everything’s Electric” is quite electrifying in most every way in Atmos.


One of the most anticipated releases of the year, Post Malone’s June 2022 instant-epic Twelve Carat Toothache is but one reason the rapper/singer phenom is the Spatial Audio Featured Artist of the week. The album’s second single, “Cooped Up,” featuring a killer guest turn from Roddy Ricch, is a prime example of what Spatial Audio is all about.

Piano, synth, and a little bit of guitar open the track up wide, then everything crashes into a moment of silence before Malone’s warbled, “I’m about to pull up” wafts into the middle ether. His first verse continues to move dreamily into the pole position, with a recurrent sampled percussion slap just behind him at center left.

As Malone expresses his plight, he moves across the field like he’s prowling onstage, with some of the musical elements dropping in and out and moving around practically at will. Harmony lines almost imperceptibly answer him, disembodied enough to start but soon enough perceptible just as he goes into his next line. “Can you give me that back?” he wonders at one point, oh-so-briefly trading swagger for regret.

When Ricch enters the frame more than halfway into it, he comes in waaaaay over to the left, initially repeating “gotta pull up” like a new mantra, his words echoing behind him by a millisecond or two as he rolls to the center and back to the left again. Ricch’s flow unfolds with deliberate intent, as his featured section is not about tracking WPS (words per second) in the least.

Next, Malone rotates back into the mix to state his manifesto, and he’s rolling around up in the heights before taking root center left until dropping out in full. The synth then takes his place, percolating and sputtering to the end of the fade. Fact is, “Cooped Up” is anything but contained in its Atmos form.


Synth-pop chanteuse Sky Ferreira has been in a state of recording stasis for what seems like, well, forever. Thankfully, her striking new single “Don’t Forget” is a stark reminder of exactly why we’ve missed having her presence in our hearts and/or ear canals for so long—and it’s also a reminder that holds even more sway in Spatial Audio.

Layered, sampled strings start things off high and wide before a big drum fill that wouldn’t necessarily be out of place on a vintage Def Leppard track sets the tone right up the middle. Keyboard and synth figures add to the layering before Ferreira enters up into the ether with, “There’s a fire on your street,” an elegiac “Yeah!” quickly coming in response at center left.

The overall production of “Don’t Forget” is such that if you didn’t know it was 2022, you’d almost feel like you were listening to a late-1980s/early-1990s track from either T’Pau or Sinéad O’Connor—and/or perhaps a suave mashup remix of both artists. (And that’s a good thing, BTW.)

The American-born Ferreira uses British inflections to great effect all throughout the song, and certain lines roll left or right for particular emphasis, such as the declarative, “You can’t keep me in line.” After her third repeat of the title phrase comes in the first chorus, a gnarly synthesized effect attacks the proceedings right up the middle, then runs parallel with her next two takes on said titular phrase.

Meanwhile, Ferreira moves left then back to the right on the next verses, the drum track dominating the field after she intones, “I’m the real bad girl.” When she promises herself she won’t forget again, the production cacophony overwhelms the mix in the center for a few moments before she veers vocally over to the left, then leapfrogs the sonic chaos to take root over in the right to keep things moving. As she gets to her final line, “I don’t forgive,” everything falls away for the string samples to hold their final notes until the fade.

What a triumphant return indeed. You won’t soon forget how “Don’t Forget” was able to lift Sky Ferreira to newer heights in Atmos.


For more about the specs, gear, and setup options you’ll need to experience the very best of the ever-expanding Apple Music universe of fully immersive Made for Spatial Audio Dolby Atmos mixes, go here.

Still want more Made for Spatial Audio options to listen to before an all-new Spatial Audio File returns next Friday? Go to Apple Music: Spatial Audio Relations to get an additional all-channel fill.

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The Berliner Philharmoniker is now broadcasting in Dolby Atmos: