12 of the best Dolby Atmos tracks on Tidal, Amazon and Apple Music (and 5 to avoid)

Dolby Atmos Music

Dolby Atmos Music on Tidal

(Image credit: Future)

The metaphorical Marmite of this generation’s music technology, Dolby Atmos continues to be a hot topic as Apple, Amazon and Tidal distribute mixes in the surround sound technology to the intrigue of music listeners around the world. It’s loved and it’s hated, by artists, engineers, producers and fans alike. Some reckon it’s just ‘old wine in a new bottle’, others believe it will eventually supersede stereo. 

Whichever side of the fence you sit on, it’s hard to argue that some are better mixed in, and suited to, the technology than others. Will inconsistency be the death of it? Maybe. It’s too much in its infancy to tell. But for now, it’s here and it has given team What Hi-Fi? plenty of joy (and yes, cringe) over the past few years. 

Below is a collection of our favourites that we believe are great adverts for the execution and potential of Dolby Atmos in music, plus a few examples of those that, to our ears, are unlistenable. So if you’re intrigued by Atmos music and have an Apple, Amazon or Tidal subscription and a pair of headphones (or better yet a dedicated Atmos audio set-up) handy, give these a whirl. Got some recommendations of your own? Drop them in the comments!

Disclaimer: we’ve tried to pick songs that are available across the three spatial audio-supporting streaming services, so if you were wondering why, for example, the drop-dead gorgeous ‘Dark Side Of The Moon (50th Anniversary) Remaster’ doesn’t feature, know that it has been pulled from Tidal – ‘rights and that’, we expect.

G.U.Y. – Lady Gaga

Much of Lady Gaga’s works have been Atmos-fied, but, truth be told, not many would deserve spots on this list even if it were 500-songs strong. Her 2018 Artpop album is an exception, and G.U.Y  is, if you ask us, the unquestionable highlight. The opening voice-over directing the listener to “lay back and feast as this audio guides you through new and exciting positions” relates to sexual subordination, but it is incidentally poignant here as the pop mix thrives on its newfound spaciousness without losing any of its vocal focus or drive, a repercussion Atmos mixes can sometimes be guilty of.

Riders On The Storm – The Doors 

Dolby Atmos allows you to really ride the storm as rain pours and thunder claps more purposefully and atmospherically around Jim Morrison’s lyrical storytelling and the psychedelic instrumentation than it does in the stereo mix. Not many Atmos music mixes make use of height channels sensibly, never mind effectively, but this is one of them – through kit that can really communicate height audio it’s particularly fantastic. As it should, Atmos adds but takes nothing away.

Brutalism – Jean-Michel Jarre

From the get-go, the spikey percussion panning right to left and then back again across the soundscape makes for a sonically compelling experience – and that’s before you realise that the electronica pioneer’s brooding, dense techno is an apocalypse-mood masterpiece. The Oxymore album from which Brutalism was the first single is an ode to the late French composer Pierre Henry, who Jarre had intended to collaborate with before his death, and builds upon the soundbites provided by his widow.

Oxytocin – Billie Eilish

For spine-chilling listening (and maybe oxytocin releasing?) experience, get a load of Oxytocin – the backing whispers wrapped all around you certainly up the intimacy levels, as does the extra insight and sharpness to her central vocal. We’re sticking to one song per artist here, but know that if we wanted to rebel against our own rules, we’d chuck No Time To Die in here too. Possibly What Was I Made For? as well. All told, all three of Billie Eilish’s albums have been tastefully Atmos-fied.

Imagine Dragons – Believer

The Las Vegas rockers love Dolby Atmos. All five of their albums are available in the format and last year they played a one-off charity gig live in Atmos at Dolby’s Live Theatre in their hometown. One of their better-known songs, Believer, offers a great first impression of its pretty strong Atmos catalogue, with percussion bookending a wide-open soundstage that’s as explicit and pin-point precise as songs on the heavier side come. Shark and Bones are also solid entry points if incessant radio playback ruined Believer for you in 2017.

Staircase – Steven Wilson

“Over the years I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s better to try and make it a fun experience, rather than adhere to a self-imposed limitation of wanting to be faithful to the sound inside a venue. Why not move some sound design elements up the height speakers?”, Porcupine Tree’s Steven Wilson told Immersive Audio Album about how he approaches Atmos mixes. He has plenty of experience in doing so, having recently re-mixed albums by the likes of Suede, Caravan, The Grateful Dead, Def Leppard and Rush in the technology. So it’s not surprising that his latest album, The Harmony Codex, gets the same meticulous surround-sound treatment. Unlike the heritage albums he’s mixed, this you can tell has been written for the format – indeed, Wilson calls it 'cinema for the ears'. Closer Staircase is as good an advert for both his creative vision and the technology as any other – a dynamic combination of analogue synths, electric guitars and drums (live and programmed) that is seemingly everywhere at once without ever tripping over itself. Impressive.

Marigold – M.I.A. 

It’s little wonder we’ve heard manufacturers of Dolby Atmos products (including Sonos) use this for their demos. The mix seems to make use of the technology’s every dimension and freedom, and with production-enhancing purpose rather than to gimmicky effect, coherently layering the acoustic string melodies, vocals and deep-bass reverb, and throwing echoic backing vocals to the corners so that they effectively bounce around you like echoes do. The Atmos treatment is like an autopsy that exposes every element – and for Marigold, that works in its favour.

Drive – R.E.M 

The guitar in our left ear, the bass above, strings enveloping, Stipe wandering pensively around the studio and likely throwing a shape or two as the harmonica bursts in on our bottom right; it's a sad soundscape exaggerated by the wide-open, oft-empty space it plays in, and one which makes the song’s inspirations, namely David Essex's Rock On and Queen's musical stylings, all the more perceptible.

My Tears Ricochet – Taylor Swift

OK, so any backing vocals that are this much of a focus in a song are likely to be elevated by an opened-up Atmos mix, but what is surprising is how it transforms the verses where it’s less subtle and out of the spotlight. It’s more haunting, more devastating – and we hadn’t even noticed that robotic edge to Taylor’s vocal from the second verse before we heard this production. The ultimate Taylor Atmos Mix, Swifties? We reckon My Tears Ricochet is the highlight of Folklore (Peace is close second: another corker) and the track Folklore is the best Atmos mix of them all. It stacks up.

He Said She Said – Chvrches

This neon-soaked synth banger from the Glasgow band’s latest gains a cinematic quality in Atmos as sparkling synth showers and pitter-patter electronica bubble away in the outer depths of the soundscope and some of that in-your-face urgency is traded for a more atmospheric late-night, highway-drive vibe. The production has room to breathe whereas the stereo version sounds somewhat suffocated. As the Apple slogan goes, it just works.

Come Together – The Beatles

You may have your doubts that Atmos-fying heritage songs we all know and love, not to mention those using real instruments, can sound nothing other than detrimentally artificial, and we empathise with such caution. But producer Giles Martin and mix engineer Sam Okell have done a cracking job with Abbey Road. The 2019 50th anniversary release followed the Atmos mixes of Sgt. Pepper's (2017) and The White Album (2018) and to its credit really isn’t a million miles away from the stereo mix – it’s cleaner (admittedly some may miss that original edginess) and it’s like you’re stepping into Ringo’s personal space as his drum fills and hi-hat cymbals wrap around you. It just lets you fall more deeply into the songs and feel closer to them.

Cold Reactor – Everything Everything

Another that sounds as if Atmos was in the back of the minds of the creators, this single from the Manchester band’s new album is a fun, bright bop that kicks off with cross-channel vocal interplay and drops single steel drum notes in its enlarged soundscape without losing the sustained energy of its stereo mix. It’s a subtle enhancement as they go, but a great advert for how natural Atmos mixes can sound, particularly in the art-pop/rock genre.

Notable mentions...

  • BOOM – Tiesto & Sevenn 
  • Franz Schubert / Europe Endless – Kraftwerk 
  • Take My Breath – The Weeknd 
  • Delilah (Pull Me Out Of This) – Fred Again...
  • Tom Sawyer – Rush 
  • Dreams – Fleetwood Mac 
  • Unholy – Sam Smith and Kim Petras

5 to avoid...

  • Man in a Box – Alice in Chains 
  • Bad Romance – Lady Gaga 
  • What’s My Age Again? – Blink-182 
  • Buddy Holly – Weezer 
  • We Didn’t Start The Fire – Fall Out Boy


What is Dolby Atmos Music anyway?

Everything you need to know about Dolby Atmos for movies

13 of the best spatial audio tracks in Dolby Atmos on Apple Music

Becky Roberts

Becky is the managing editor of What Hi-Fi? and, since her recent move to Melbourne, also the editor of Australian Hi-Fi magazine. During her 10 years in the hi-fi industry, she has been fortunate enough to travel the world to report on the biggest and most exciting brands in hi-fi and consumer tech (and has had the jetlag and hangovers to remember them by). In her spare time, Becky can often be found running, watching Liverpool FC and horror movies, and hunting for gluten-free cake.