The Dark Side of the Moon in Atmos: an unprecedented experience


Mis à jour le 5 April 2023.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Dark Side of the Moon, Pink Floyd’s legendary album has been renewed with a new Dolby Atmos mix. A highly immersive edition that is available on Blu-ray in The Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary Deluxe box set and on Apple Music and Amazon Music. Will this new version truly transport the listener to the dark side of the moon?

The Dark Side of the Moon: a space rock classic

Released in March 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon has become one of Pink Floyd’s most iconic pieces and is the third highest-selling album in the world. Revolutionary, The Dark Side of the Moon was a series of bold experiments in exploring the newest music technologies of the time. Frantic loops, complex rhythms and spaced-out sequences made it the perfect album to discover the possibilities of stereo. At the time, it is estimated that around a quarter of all British households had a copy of the album. Throughout the world, hi-fi dealers used the record to test the quality of their equipment.

Released in 1973, The Dark Side of the Moon has become the third highest-selling album in the world. It is now considered to be a rock classic, both for its cover and psychedelic atmosphere.

Half a century later, Pink Floyd have continued to evolve their masterpiece by taking advantage of the latest audio developments. The result is a new Dolby Atmos mix that delivers a more immersive experience than ever before. For its 50th birthday, the album is also available in a limited edition box set containing James Guthrie’s 2023 remastered version on CD and vinyl. Also included are a Blu-ray and an audio DVD featuring the 5.1 and Atmos mixes, as well as the new HD stereo masters in 24-bit/192kHz. The Dark Side of the Moon – Live at Wembley Empire Pool, London, 1974 album is also featured on CD and vinyl. To top it off, the box set includes a 160 page book and the original 76 page song book.

The incredibly comprehensive deluxe edition celebrating the 50 year anniversary of The Dark Side of the Moon includes, amongst other things, a CD and gatefold vinyl of the 2023 remastered version, a Blu-ray of the Atmos mix, as well as a DVD featuring the original 5.1 mix and the Hi-Res remaster of the stereo version.

This is not the first time that Pink Floyd have broken the boundaries of stereo. In particular, the band was the first to use quadraphonic sound in their concerts. This consisted of using two pairs of stereo speakers, each placed at one end of the venue. To do this, Pink Floyd developed the Azimuth Co-ordinator, the first quadraphonic sound panning controller. Using a 270° rotating joystick, it was possible to adjust the sound in the space live by moving it from one speaker to another. Controlled by keyboardist Rick Wright, the original device was stolen from a concert in London. A second one was built for the Royal Festival Hall concert in 1969. It was equipped with two controllers, one for the organ, the other for pre-recorded sound effects.

The Azimuth Co-ordinator created by Bernard Speight for Pink Floyd allowed the band to modify the sound distribution across the four speakers positioned throughout the concert hall. 

Before The Dark Side of the Moon was released, the band used a 28-track mixing desk for a quadraphonic output. Alan Parsons initially created a quadraphonic mix in 1973, but the band didn’t approve it. It wasn’t until 2003 that an official quadraphonic version was released on SACD to celebrate the album’s 30th anniversary. Twenty years later, more facets of The Dark Side of the Moon have been revealed with an even more immersive Atmos mix.

How to listen to The Dark Side of the Moon in Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos music, also known as spatial audio, provides a more extensive soundstage and free placement of sounds in space. To listen to The Dark Side of the Moon in Dolby Atmos, the most immersive solution is to use a home theater system with Atmos speakers, such as the Denon AVC-X4700H and Elipson Prestige Facet HCM 8B 5.1.2 speakers, or an Atmos soundbar like the JBL Bar 1300. You can listen to the Atmos Blu-ray of the album included in The Dark Side of the Moon 50th Anniversary box set, or you can stream it on Apple Music or Amazon Music. In the latter case, you’ll also need to use an Atmos-compatible network player such as the Apple TV 4K.

It is also possible to listen to The Dark Side of the Moon in Dolby Atmos with a pair of headphones such as the Focal Bathys, in-ear monitors like the FiiO FH15, a wireless speaker such as the Sonos Era 100, or any other stereo system. This way, you can enjoy a binaural Atmos mix that creates a virtual soundscape. Apple Music and Amazon Music are both able to automatically switch between Atmos and binaural mode depending on your equipment.

The Dark Side of the Moon in Atmos: an immersive listening experience

For this Dolby Atmos listening session of The Dark Side of the Moon, we used the Blu-ray from the 50th anniversary box set. The immersive experience took place in the Oscars and Emmy Awards home theater auditoriums of the Paris Est (Champigny-sur-Marne) Son-Vidé store. The first room is equipped with a Dali Dolby Atmos system with architectural speakers and the second with a Klipsch Atmos ceiling reflection system.

In the Emmy Awards home theater room, The Dark Side of the Moon in Dolby Atmos provided an immersive and enveloping sound.

Listening to the Dolby Atmos mix of The Dark Side of the Moon reveals a completely new work of art. The experience may even seem disorientating, since we are so used to a stereophonic version of this album. The listening experience begins with the heartbeat on “Speak to Me”, which is more enveloping and eerie than ever before. We are instantly plunged into the dark world of this lunar opus. The captivating atmosphere lasts until the final heartbeat of “Eclipse”, bringing this masterful recording to a close.

The Dolby Atmos mix of The Dark Side of the Moon instantly plunged us into the dark universe of this lunar opus.

The Dolby Atmos mix reveals the unsuspected potential of The Dark Side of the Moon, which is revealed in a new light after 50 years. Like the iconic prism on its cover that diffracts light into multiple waves, the music is dispersed effectively through the various speakers in the installation. With “Time”, the surround and Atmos channels are skilfully used to reproduce the ringing of bells, before the focus is gradually shifted to the front of the stage. The other channels are then used more discreetly to bring openness and depth to the music.

With “Time”, the different channels of the Atmos system are skilfully used to bring openness and depth to the music.

Each track has been remixed with a deep respect for the original work. The Dolby Atmos enhances the perception of the slightest nuances and creates a more enveloping soundstage, without succumbing to artifice or excess. Only the introduction to “Money” seems too demonstrative. The cash register, coins and money counting machine constantly oscillate from one channel to another, which can be disorientating. However, this effect soon fades away and is replaced by David Gilmour’s voice, whose increased amplitude seems to give the impression that the singer is in the room. The guitar that accompanies the track is captivating, moving through space with agility and seeming to brush against our ears.

“Money” is the most effusive track on the album, with the sound effects of the cash register, coins and money counting machine constantly oscillating from one channel to another.

The Dolby Atmos mix also reinforces the vision of The Dark Side of the Moon as a comprehensive work of art. Many of the tracks flow seamlessly together, and the Atmos facilitates these transitions with remarkable smoothness and naturalness. The transition between “Money” and “Us and Them” is seamless and the sound bubble effect does not dissipate. This continuity enhances the immersion and accentuates the impression of attending a real show, where each track is perfectly interwoven.

The Dolby Atmos mix magnifies the transitions, which are more coherent and natural between the different tracks on The Dark Side of The Moon.

The Dark Side of the Moon in Atmos: a new work of art

Rediscovering The Dark Side of the Moon through the prism of Dolby Atmos offers a new and unforgettable experience for Pink Floyd fans. This innovative mix offers a new perspective on this timeless masterpiece, highlighting the richness and depth of the arrangements, while respecting the essence of the original work. The Dark Side of the Moon in Atmos invites you to dive into an immersive soundscape, where every detail is highlighted and every transition blends seamlessly across the different channels of the system. This modern reinterpretation is a vibrant tribute to the band’s creative genius. It not only confirms the indisputable status of The Dark Side of the Moon in the history of music, but also the way in which Dolby Atmos is revolutionizing music.

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