Inside Ricardo Bacelar’s Brazilian Dolby Atmos Studio: “we are challenging the norms”

Brazilian composer and producer Ricardo Bacelar has created an advanced Dolby Atmos certified residential facility in Fortaleza, which has become a reference in Latin America in terms of its immersive audio possibilities.

As an accomplished composer and producer, Bacelar admits he is “testing all the time” in his home studio in Fortaleza on the coast of north-eastern Brazil.

Not tied to one particular music genre, Bacelar likes to drift from classical music to pop to jazz:

“I am not limited by musical genres; I like them all and all my albums are different,” he said. “I find that sometimes the industry wants to put you in a box, which is just not me. But what I always stay loyal to is creating music from my heart and with the best possible recording set-up.”

Bacelar has recently been producing numerous recordings in Dolby Atmos:

“At the moment, stereo is still very much the industry standard, so we can’t forget it completely – not yet. But my next challenge is to create a dedicated piece just for Dolby Atmos,” he shared.

A key consideration for recording in Dolby Atmos is that it requires a new way of thinking, he explained:

“The arrangement of the microphones is completely different in Dolby Atmos. For example, I use a Neumann KU 100 dummy head microphone or a Sennheiser AMBEO VR mic to record a truly immersive ambient sound and also close mic instruments like the piano and drums, to be able to keep the dry sound in the overall mix.”

For drums, he uses the Neumann KU 100 to record the overall ambience as well as a pair of Neumann TLM 103s, a Schoeps mic, a Shure SM57 and AKG 451 for recording "dry" sounds.

For other percussion instruments, once again Bacelar deploys the KU 100 for ambience and close mics with a Sennheiser e 904.

“If you don't add the KU 100 and record the ambient sound it sounds like you need reverb, it’s way too dry with just the e 904 when it comes to the spatial quality of the sound,” he explained.

Bacelar said that when creating a Dolby Atmos mix, finding the centre is key:

“The centre may be the vocals, or a particular mix which conveys the key message of the piece. If you don’t have that centre, you are lost. You might have the sounds flowing everywhere, but you must preserve the source of the melody and accentuate it.”

Rules, however, are meant to be broken: “In Dolby Atmos, the centre can be behind you and gives a new perspective to the listener,” he added.

“But then we are challenging the norms of the industry, but if you have the courage, you should go for it. Personally, I love to experiment. For me, Dolby Atmos is a new form of printing the aesthetics of music. Music is art. You must have courage and obey your heart, your brain and your feelings. That way, you will create great music.”

Bacelar’s latest album, Congênito, is a mix of pop, world, jazz and fusion on which he recorded, produced, sang and played every single instrument.

“With each of my albums, I go to a different space. Congênito was acoustical, the next one will be very different.”