"I am convinced this will be a total game-changer": Jean-Michel Jarre comes out punching for spatial audio

Jean-Michel Jarre
(Image credit: Future)

Pioneering electronic artist Jean-Michel Jarre has revealed that he believes 3D audio technologies are far superior to stereo in several interviews surrounding the release of his latest project, OXYMORE.

Speaking with The Independent, Jarre opened up on what he believes are the limits of stereo audio. “For decades we have had a frontal relationship with music. It is the same relationship to music that you have with a painting," Jarre says. "With modern technology you can go back to a very natural way of listening to music. I am convinced this will be a total game-changer.”

In a statement shared following OXYMORE's release, Jarre doubled down on his endorsement. "In real life stereo does not exist, our audio field is 360 degrees. Today, technology allows us to explore composition in spatial audio and that opens a whole new experience for us musicians in the creative process," he claims. "Music will be more easily experienced by anyone with regular headphones or the new generations of sound systems, offering a more physical and natural way of listening to sound and music in full immersion.”

OXYMORE, Jarre's 22nd studio album, was recorded in 360-degree spatial audio in an experimental studio at the Paris headquarters of Radio France. It's said to be the first commercial release of this scale that fully utilizes multichannel and binaural sound. Speaking with Sound on Sound, Jarre revealed that he mixed OXYMORE using Steinberg's Nuendo and L-Acoustics L-ISA technology, through a 29-speaker monitoring system. 

Jarre also claimed that he avoided using a conventional Dolby Atmos system in the mixing process, as he believes that though the format is "excellent", it was "originally created for movies and not for music." He believes that, in using Atmos, musicians have had to adapt themselves "to a technology that has not been devised and created" for them, noting that "it creates a lot of issues, mainly for binaural because of the different filters."

“Dolby developed their system with a kind of ‘heliocentric’ approach that was basically made for movie theatres." Jarre continued. "Wherever you are, you are in the right position to have the dialogue in front of you and the rest of it on each side and the effects behind. And that is not at all what we need as musicians. We are more ‘egocentric’ as musicians, and we need to have an equivalence all around us from the centre point. It’s quite a different approach.”

Despite these comments, OXYMORE is in fact available in Dolby Atmos, along with stereo, binaural and 5.1 versions. Find out more on Jarre's website.

Read our 2021 interview with Jean-Michel Jarre.

Matt Mullen
Tech Editor

I'm the Tech Editor for MusicRadar, working across everything from artist interviews to product news to tech tutorials. I love electronic music and I'm endlessly fascinated by the tools we use to make it. When I'm not behind my laptop keyboard, you'll find me behind a MIDI keyboard, carefully crafting the beginnings of another project that I'll ultimately abandon to the creative graveyard that is my overstuffed hard drive.

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