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‘You’re dealing with a record that’s been around for 50 years that everyone loves, and no one’s ever said sounded bad,’ says the producer. ‘So it’s a bit of a tricky job.’
“It’s a bit like someone you love for years having a slightly different haircut,” says Giles Martin. “And you realize you still love them.” The producer is talking about his Beatles remixes, which have been available in their most expansive form on Apple Music since June, when the service launched their Dolby Atmos-driven spatial audio feature. As more listeners than ever before encounter Martin’s Atmos mixes of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and Abbey Road (which happens to be one of the most impressive spatial-audio showcases from any artist), he dug into the technical marvels and challenges of three-dimensional sound, explained why the current version of Sgt. Pepper’s won’t stick around much longer, and much more.

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

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.
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.

I presume you start with the stereo mix and then proceed to the multi-channel one, right?
We start off with the stereo. I feel immersive audio should be an expansion of the stereo field, in a way. I like the idea of a vinyl record melting and you’re falling into it. That’s the analogy I like to use. And if you have lots and lots of things all around you all the time, it can get slightly irritating and confusing, depending on what the music is. If it’s EDM, it’s obviously fine. But the interesting thing about immersive audio is there’s a center point to it. So it’s almost like mono, but expanded. It’s like having a bit of toffee and smashing the toffee with a hammer and all the shattered bits going around you. And if you don’t have a focal point, if you don’t put your drums in the center or the vocals in the center, you don’t really get a sense of immersion. It’s a bit like a James Turrell room, where you’re just in this colorless room.

And we are by our nature, forward-facing individuals who don’t like too many things creeping up behind us. If you have a lot of sound coming behind you, you want to turn your head. I get criticized sometimes for not being expansive enough with these mixes, but it’s what I believe. I like the idea of falling in the record as opposed to just being circled around.

It does seem like there’s something very cool going on with John Lennon’s vocal on “Day In the Life” in the Atmos mix, where it feels like the reverb is behind you.
With Beatles mixes, because we have, I suppose, the money to do it, and the luxury of time, what I and [engineer] Sam Okell tend to do, opposed to using digital effects, is we’ll place speakers back in Studio Two [the Abbey Road space where the Beatles originally recorded]. And we’ll re-record John’s voice in Studio Two, so what you’re hearing are the reflections of the room he’s singing in. It brings the vocal closer to you.

What are some of your favorite moments in the Abbey Road Atmos mixes?
“Because” is three tracks of vocal, three tracks of three Beatles singing together. John, Paul, and George sang harmonies together and then did it three times. We also put that back into Studio Two. You get to create this beautiful sound field that wraps around you and you fall into it. It sounds unearthly.

“Sun King” is an interesting example, because you have the crickets in the back. And then the guitar on the [original] record pans left to right. But now in Dolby Atmos, I pushed the sound field further so it comes to the side of you and goes around. You’re dealing with a record that’s been around for 50 years that everyone loves, and no one’s ever said sounded bad. So it’s a bit of a tricky job. But what I like to do is follow what they wanted to do. They panned, so I follow the panning, but we pan around you, as opposed to just side to side. And that’s a really good example of immersive audio.

In “I Want You (She’s So Heavy),” you have the organ in the back right. It’s simple, but very striking.
Yeah, it works well in the back. And then of course there’s that white noise in that song that goes on for years. We have that swirling around you. Yeah, that moves around. And again, if I had the whole record swirling around, it would probably make you feel a bit sick. It’s like being in a tornado — you need to be stationary to feel the tornado. If you’re in the tornado, you’re gonna be just moving round and round. You want to be stationary so you can feel the wind around you.

I’ve heard some Atmos mixes of classic songs where the vocal is more upfront than it’s ever been before, and you suddenly realize that the vocalist was actually pitchy that day. It exposes flaws. How do you avoid that?
I agree with you, and the thing is, it’s a bit like doing an autopsy, where you’re opening up the body and you’re showing the separate parts. Sometimes you start hearing tuning discrepancies that that you didn’t know were there. And part of those discrepancies are what made the record great before so they shouldn’t be tuned. So we never tune the thing or fix timing errors or anything like that. That’s not what my job is. And if you have a very direct bit of audio coming out of a single speaker, you start listening to the speaker and not the sound field. We try and be less discrete with the vocal. In fact, we don’t really put vocals hard center. We used to in the olden days. We don’t anymore. We tend to blend the sound, so it’s more like a Monet painting. Music’s like that, you know: When you have a drum kit or a singer in front of you, you don’t necessarily hear them directly like that. You hear them together in a space.

You don’t always put the drums in the center, either, right?
It depends what the track is, to be honest with you. Especially with earlier Beatles stuff where you have four tracks. If, in “Day in The Life,” you put the drums in the center, you’d have to have bass and drums and vocal in the center, and everything else on the left-hand side. Also, in the case of the Beatles, because of the nature of the way Ringo is as a drummer… He’s quite often more of a parts drummer, a song drummer, rather than just a rhythm drummer. So when songs are being driven by the drums, they should be in the center, but when he’s like a percussionist… On “Day in The Life,” the center is John’s voice, or Paul’s voice in the mid-section, and the rest of the world is wrapped around that.

What’s the actual mechanism for placing parts in the sound field? I think people might picture almost a joystick.
In the old days, when I was doing the Love show [in Las Vegas] and and the Love album, I had a joystick. But now, actually, I have a mouse. I want my joystick back! Essentially you’re looking at a three-dimensional square where you can see inside, and you have a dot and you can move it around that that space. And then you can also make that dot bigger or smaller so it dissipates among the speakers.

Abbey Road Studios has software that allows you to essentially reverse-engineer an old track of audio with multiple instruments on it and separate it into individual tracks. You used that on Ron Howard’s Eight Days a Week documentary and The Beatles: Live At The Hollywood Bowl companion album, right?
Yeah, on Hollywood Bowl I took the crowd [noise] off and and then I sort of put the crowd back on again. With the source separation software, I need to make absolutely sure that it does no harm to the audio whatsoever. With things like Hollywood Bowl, to be honest, the audio is pretty cruddy anyway. So it was actually making the audio sound better, because I was reducing the screaming. I think if you compare it to the Hollywood Bowl release my dad had to work through in the ’70s, it’s far better.

The software is getting a lot better. I’m constantly looking at how we would approach it if I ever get to [remix] Revolver or Rubber Soul, early albums, which a lot of people want me to do. That’s a good example of, “How do we do that?” How do I make sure that John or Paul’s vocal isn’t just in the right-hand speaker, but also make sure that his guitar doesn’t follow him if I put it in the center? On “Taxman,” the guitar, the bass, and drums are all on one track! That’s why the record is basically on the left-hand side, and then there’s a shaker on the right-hand side of the center.

So you want to wait for the source-separation software to continue to improve.
That’s right. Despite the constant requests I get on Twitter or whatever to do these albums, I want to make sure that we can do a good job, and do a beneficial job. You’ve got to make sure that you’re doing things at the right time for the technology.

What do you think of the Atmos experience on headphones? Because it in the end is an emulation of an actual multi-speaker system.
There’s been an exponential growth in technology in spatial audio for headphones, which has happened in an incredibly short space of time. I would say that two years ago, it was unlistenable. And now it’s a good experience. The exciting thing is that it’ll only get better. I think we’re right at the beginning of this. And I I think what we what it can do is it can create intimacy with music. You can hear the difference with spatial audio. It may not always be better, but there’s a difference. I think we’re learning the tools to provide that difference for people. What’s great is that it creates more of a lean-in listening environment where you’re paying attention to it, as opposed to just having audio being played into your head to stop you from thinking.

Spatial audio in headphones is hugely variable, depending on the size of your head, the way your neck is on your shoulders. Where we perceive sound coming from varies with our physical bone structure. So I think what will happen, what is happening, is that there will be a lot of facial recognition, instant body measurements, pressure testing with headphones. That technology will improve. It will become more personalized for you as a headphone experience. On top of that, as you know, I work with Sonos, I’m head of sound experience for Sonos. So I’m involved in the listen-out-loud experience. There’s a huge push from Sonos and other companies to try to create immersive sound fields from single boxes or multiple boxes, and Dolby is doing this as well.

Can you begin to explain what’s happening on a technical level when we’re hearing an approximation of Atmos in headphones?
It’s so complicated. Essentially, if you think about it, we’re listening to just a stereo signal. But our brains think we’re not.The best way to think about it is they are trying to work out how we process directional sound, through phase, EQ, through different time alignments, that trick our brain.

It feels related to how binaural recordings work, where dual microphones placed in approximation of human ears mean that you perceive a sense of dimension when you listen back.
It is exactly the same. It is binaural. You’ve got two ears, but you don’t listen in stereo. You listen in three dimensions. So what everyone’s trying to do is try to create that three-dimensional space into your two ears before it gets to your brain.



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The Beatles will celebrate Abbey Road’s 50th anniversary with a suite of beautifully presented packages to be released this Friday [September 27]. The album’s 17 tracks are newly mixed by producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell at Abbey Road in stereo, high res stereo, 5.1 surround, and Dolby Atmos, accompanied by 23 session recordings and demos, most of which are previously unreleased.

Martin and Okell worked on the new Abbey Road mixes with Abbey Road’s expert team of engineers and audio restoration specialists. All of the editions feature the new stereo album mix, sourced from the original eight-track session tapes. Giles Martin used the original stereo mix by his father George Martin as his guide.

Video: Giles talking about the process behind remixing The Beatles’ last recorded album, what we can expect from the reissue and his work at the studios… here or here:


The 50th anniversary editions of Abbey Road will be released this Friday [27 September] – pre-order them :  H E R E .


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When Giles Martin, head of sound experience at Sonos Inc. and son of late legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, first expressed interest in a music career, his father tried to dissuade him, worried about the comparisons that would inevitably ensue. “My dad talked to me about it when I was 14, so I had already made the decision to defy him quite early on,” Giles tells Yahoo Entertainment. “He did discourage me!” But when the elder Martin, a man who’d based his entire career on his “golden ears,” started going deaf after years of long recording sessions, he turned to his teenage son for help in the studio.

“And so,” Giles recalls, “I became ‘his ears’ when I was quite young.”

Says Giles, “He needed to hide it from people, because he realized people wouldn’t want to work with him if he was deaf.” Giles remembers a moment when his father was producing British new wave band Ultravox’s landmark 1982 album Quartet, back when George’s hearing loss was still largely an industry secret. “He came out of his studio, and I asked him, ‘How is it going in there?’ He held up a plate and answered, ‘Two boiled eggs.’ He thought I’d said, ‘What did you have for lunch?’ If you lose your hearing, it is very tough.”

Once the two Martins began recording together, they formed a symbiotic studio relationship that Giles, who’d grown up mostly unaware of the Beatles’ legacy, describes as “hard to know where it begins and where it ends. He would say, ‘Are the violins in tune? Are those cymbals too loud?’ High-end stuff. Gradually, I learned you really have to focus on what the other person is trying to hear. … That’s probably why I can hear in frequencies now, why I can tell what 10 kilohertz is or 400 hertz is, because I was very aware of that. We would sit at the piano, and he would tell me what he couldn’t hear. I had to listen to what he couldn’t hear. That’s how I got into it.

“He was an amazing person to learn off. It was basically through his loss that I gained, in a terrible way, but he gained as well — because it meant he could carry on working.”

George, who passed away in 2016 at age 90, first noticed his inability to hear certain high-frequency sounds in the mid-’70s, and he was almost entirely deaf by the time he retired in 1998. But his son says that George never lost his sense of humor. “One time, I went to pick him up in his apartment. He used to have breakfast in bed. We were recording an orchestra. I said, ‘Dad, we are recording in 45 minutes.’ He was lying in bed, and he went, ‘You know, sometimes, Giles, you get to my age, and you say to yourself, f*** ’em!’” Giles laughs. “So I went on my way to the studio to set up the line, and I went to the studios and I recorded them. The trust grew [between us], if that makes sense.”

Giles went on to keep his father and the Fab Four’s legacy going strong, working on Cirque du Soleil’s Beatles-themed Las Vegas show Love, Martin Scorsese’s George Harrison documentary Living in the Material World, Ron Howard’s Beatles documentary Eight Days a Week: The Touring Years, the Beatles’ Rock Band video game, Paul McCartney’s New album, and last year’s 50th anniversary reissue of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

“That was quite emotional,” Giles says of that latter epic project, “because I started doing that and I remember [my father] died. I went back into the studio, started looking at Sgt. Pepper [archives], and his was the first voice I heard. That was kind of strange.” (Regarding plans for similar deluxe reissues of two other Beatles LPs about to celebrate 50th birthdays, The White Album and Abbey Road, Giles says, “I can’t really comment on any of those two things. But I’m certainly keeping me in work.”)Giles has also recently worked with George Ezra, with James Bay, and on the British action franchise Kingsman and the upcoming Elton John biopic Rocketman. But his job at the speaker company Sonos, which went public this week, recently offered him a most unusual opportunity: creating an official new opening and closing bell for the Nasdaq stock exchange, a first in the bell’s 18-year history.

Teaming with Oscar-winning film sound engineer Chris Jenkins (who recently joined Sonos’s industry panel and worked on Eight Days a Week), Giles says he “thought it would be fun to make a bell sound by not using any bells. … It’s quite a good laugh, doing it.” Inspired partly by his father’s studio creativity (“My dad used to tell me that he’d worked on making a sort of a gong sound just by using a grand piano”), Giles says they “used about a hundred developments in the recording,” experimenting with Tibetan bowls and mallets, screwdrivers, coins, “glass sounds,” and even banging Giles’s house keys against a metal angle-posed lamp. “We wandered around our homes looking at things that we could hit that would make the sound of a bell,” Giles says, chuckling. “You go mad, looking at objects you can hit.”

But in the end, he and his Sonos team came up with “a Nasdaq bell sound that wasn’t going to be a gimmick, that they would use and like. … I never thought Nasdaq would be open to new ideas, but they went for it.”

Despite all this, and his background of being the surrogate ears of one of the greatest producers of all time, Giles remains humble, shrugging, “I just feel lucky to get the work, really quite honestly. I never take it for granted.” He confesses that he’s not very proud of some his earlier production work (“I wrote with a fantastic band when I was about 23 called Monorail, who you would never have heard of, and I think I did a really bad job on that record; I was too inexperienced and weak with them, and they deserved better, in all honesty”) and that he’s been “really privileged.”“I’ve never felt, and I still don’t feel, that I can justify my position,” Giles says. “Whatever the cynicism that one may have about being the son of someone famous — if you have drive, that’s what keeps you going — my own criticism of myself would be stronger than that.”

But Giles, who says, “My dad’s always with me,” recalls that George was never cynical about his son’s career path, once they finally started working together. And George was apparently just as humble as his son. Giles remembers one special conversation they had toward the end of his father’s life. “He was very sick. I said to him, ‘Dad, do you ever think, God, I can’t do this?’ He goes, ‘What do you mean?’ I said, ‘Well, some of the artists around think I’m not good enough.’ He goes, ‘That’s ridiculous. I think you’re better than I was. I didn’t even know I was brilliant!’ And I said, ‘God, you are so lucky to think that.’”



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Aussie rockers INXS will team up with renowned Beatles re-mixer Giles Martin to repackage the band for a new generation of music fans. Giles said: “so great to be back in Australia with these lovely people. I owe you so much, you gave me my break all those years ago. Thank you. X

The Grammy-winning producer and composer will remix and extend the band’s studio albums and oversee their release as a theatre show.
Giles will also have input on an upcoming documentary on the band – The Untold Story of INXS.
INXS collaborated with Martin in 2017 for the 30th-anniversary remix at Abbey Road Studios of the band’s multi-platinum album Kick in Dolby ATMOS.
The album, which sold over six million copies worldwide since its release in 1987, made INXS one of the biggest bands.
Giles Martin is best known for his double Grammy-winning work with his father in 2004 on the Beatles-Cirque du Soleil show soundtrack Love.
Following his father’s death in 2016, Giles has become the unofficial custodian of the Beatles music.In recent years he has overseen new high-definition mixes of the band’s music, restoration of the audio from early concerts and preparation of the Beatle’s catalogue for streaming.

INXS’s updated albums will be released via Universal Music Group in partnership with Petrol Records.



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Asked by “Fresh Air” host Terry Gross why it is that John Lennon has been said not to have cared for the sound of his own voice, Giles Martin, son of legendary Beatles producer George Martin, responded to the public-radio interviewer that the issue ran deeper than that:
‘Well, I don’t think it was just his voice. He didn’t like, you know, my father always told me that the sounds that John had in his head were never the sounds that got on record.That’s the thing is, you know – and to demand them to make changes. You know, he was just a natural, beautiful singer.

Giles Martin oversaw, including production and remixing, a 50th-anniversary four-disc “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” box set, released last month.
About the original “Strawberry Fields” Giles said: “Of course, they had to slow it down. And that gives you a more sort of a demonic edge, you know, your slowed down voice. And so what you hear is John slowed down. In fact, on this album, there’s very few occurrences of a natural voice.
They played around with tempos, you know, on “When I’m Sixty-Four,” Paul’s voice is sped up, you know, and same with “Lovely Rita,” you know, they – “Penny Lane” his voice is sped up. And on “Strawberry Fields,” John’s is slowed down.

It’s – they’re all over the shop just trying to change things. But you’re right, on the demo or on the first take of “Strawberry Fields,” you hear the song for what it is which is an incredibly complex but beautiful personal sort of diary to his time in Liverpool.
Giles has worked on several other recent Beatles projects, including the Beatles soundscape for the Cirque du Soleil production “Love,” the audio restoration of Beatles concerts for Ron Howard’s documentary “Eight Days A Week,” and the Beatles “Rock Band” video game. Giles was the executive producer of Paul McCartney’s 2013 album “New.”