Sound on Sound Magazine (July 2023) edition published a very informative article about immersive mixing of one of the greatest albums of all time – Tubular Belles.

Please note that this is an excerpt from the article (c) by Sound on Sound and its author(s). The full article can be found here.

With much to learn, and much to unlearn, most mix engineers would want to ease themselves into Atmos by taking on a few low‑key projects. That didn’t quite happen for David Kosten. Instead of an obscure indie EP or television soundtrack, he found himself charged with Atmosifying Mike Oldfield’s 1973 masterpiece, Tubular Bells.

Thanks to his work with artists like Keane and Bat For Lashes, as well as his own Faultline project, Kosten is a very well established producer, but he cheerfully admits to having no track record with Atmos. So how did he land such a high‑profile, high‑pressure debut gig? “I co‑produced and mixed Steven Wilson’s last record [The Future Bites], and I sat in on the Atmos mixing side of it. And that’s really where my Atmos journey began. I was sitting at Dolby HQ, watching this record go from two channels to a whole bunch of channels and loving it. And thinking, ‘Oh wow. Pretty much everything I’ve ever worked on would’ve benefited from working in this three‑dimensional format.’

“I think every artist would know from working with me that I’m obsessed with talking about three dimensions, and front‑to‑back perspectives. So I always talked in those terms, but Steven Wilson was actually physically doing it. For a long time, he had been saying, ‘David, you really should be making, at the very least, your own music in this format because it’s so well suited to it.’”

Although Mike Oldfield himself remixed Tubular Bells in 5.1 back in the early 2000s, everyone agreed that the starting point for the Atmos mix should be the original stereo album. Kosten’s first and arguably biggest job, therefore, was to recreate the original stereo mixes as closely as possible, in order to generate stems that could be used for an Atmos presentation.

“My intention was that I wanted people to be hard pushed to tell that this wasn’t done in 1973. It would just happen to have a time machine and be able to put it into spatial. I wanted it to sound exactly like the 1973 version. No excuses. There is no decision in terms of panning or EQ or effect or anything that I made. Every single decision that I heard on those stereos had to be duplicated as exactly as I could first. So I was essentially trying to mirror what the guys did in 1973 before I did anything to do with Atmos.”

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