Mary Stone writes "But I don't follow the assertion that audio that replicates a physical space and places you in the middle of it somehow has superior authenticity."
This is exactly correct. Continued attempts by companies like Dolby and DTS to IMPOSE sound systems for film on music-only audio content continue to be doomed to failure for the consumer. But frankly speaking, companies like Dolby don't care on what happens creatively. They are engaged in "licensing" their technologies to as many markets as possible, extracting licensing fees from everyone along the way. And especially in the case of Dolby, they have a long history of licensing their "Dolby" technologies that they never invented. Atmos? Purchased a French company after being rebuffed by the real immersive sound leader, Auro. Dolby Vision? Also a purchased company, with the technology pushed its way into standards committees with cash and a personal relationship between a Dolby marketer and the then-president of the SMPTE.
The music community often suffers from half-baked technologies. The audio industry has been plagued with charlatans since inception ("Monster Cable" comes to mind). Sadly real music suffers from all these scams.
Great article. Beautifully written and very well expressed.
Totally agree with the author, and sometimes the leading edge of technology is beyond where we need to be. There are many examples of this, such as stereo TV, and, as the author says, it is not that Dolby Atmos has no purpose - it does, for immersive TV experiences - but that it has dubious utility at best for listening to music, particularly on headphones.
The issue for companies is that they keep needing to push things forward to convince people to upgrade so that they sell more kit, but their need for this sometimes leads them to try and convince us we need stuff that we don't.