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Dolby Atmos is great for movies, but wait till you hear what it does for music

CES is one of the biggest, coolest, and most lavish trade shows in existence. New innovations are pioneered, new leaders crowned, and the world’s most exciting tech is so close it’s palpable. But for a journalist on the ground at the show, it can be exhausting, stressful, and above all, dirty. Cram 180,000 gawkers (and all the ills that come with them) into a glorified gymnasium, and you’ve got a recipe for a biohazard.

Right now, though, I’ve got a smile on my face 10 miles wide. That’s because I’m lounging in a back ballroom at the opulent Wynn casino listening to Dolby Atmos Music. Before me lay multiple classic tracks remixed using the company’s 3D audio format that hopes to upend stereo music. What’s more, they’re being played not on a smart speaker or virtually over headphones, but on a real, high-end Atmos sound system courtesy of Focal. And it’s glorious.

From my seat on the crushed leather couch at Dolby’s booth, I hear Prince’s vocals soar all around me on When Doves Cry, fall into the center of The Weeknd and Daft Punk’s Feel it Coming, and even discover a new, immersive spin on Kenny Rogers’ The Gambler.

But the peak of the experience is, without a doubt, Rocket Man. Slide guitars bow overhead like ribbons of jet-stream in the ceiling. Background vocals swell around me like the aurora borealis. And attendees at Dolby’s off-site event scurry into the room like moths to a sonic flame.

As the starlit classic continues to expand toward the chorus, spiraling outward with each new instrumental element, I suddenly realize something rather revelatory: Dolby Atmos is more poignant, more creative, and more impactful for music than it is for film. 3D music is (or at

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