Dolby Atmos takes movies and music to the next level. Here’s how you can get it

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Not long ago, the term Dolby Atmos was used specifically to refer to an immersive sound experience that you could only get in theatre. But over the years, you’ve been more likely to see the words in 4K TV’s display stickers and boxes, home theater receivers, soundbars, and streaming services like Netflix and Disney+. It is also making its way into the world of streaming music.

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But despite this massive attempt at branding on home entertainment products, you may still be wondering what Dolby Atmos is, why you should care about it, and what you’ll need to experience it for yourself in the comfort of your own home. . We’ve got the answer and more.

There’s a lot of information to understand here, so we’ve broken it down and will continue to update this article as things develop.

further studies

  • How to Know If You’re Really Getting Dolby Atmos Sound
  • What is Dolby Atmos Music and how can you experience it?
  • Best Dolby Atmos movies for your home theater
  • Why should your next soundbar have Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos in Theater: How Is It Different?

Image Courtesy Dolby Labs

In theaters, Dolby Atmos greatly expands the way speakers are used as well as surround sound, opening up new possibilities for filmmakers to deliver more realistic, immersive sound experiences. Before the advent of Dolby Atmos, theaters could only reproduce up to eight separate tracks of surround sound spread between different speakers.

For example: 7.1-channel surround sound is still used in most theaters, giving you three channels up front (left, right, and center), two side surround channels (left and right), two rear channels (left and right). See you. and a subwoofer channel. When designing a film’s soundtrack, directors are guided by these different channels to play sound effects around the room. But no matter how many speakers were placed in a certain area—say, the left side of the room for the left surround channel—all those speakers were confined to a single channel of sound, so they could all be connected to one channel at the same time. He used to play the same sound. .

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In contrast, Dolby Atmos is capable of processing up to 128 channels of sound, which can be routed to up to 64 different speakers. In this way, sound engineers can essentially bypass the usual restrictions of channels, instead having “sound objects” placed in fixed locations and moving them throughout the theatre.

With Atmos, the ceiling can be lined with any number of full-range speakers that work in conjunction with all the other speakers in the room to place these objects anywhere within the virtual hemisphere. In a way, you can chase the sound with your ears, track it, and connect it to the on-screen action. For example, if it rains in the movie, then the rain comes directly on you. If a helicopter flies up and to the right, the sound will start at the back of the room, travel upward, and disappear to the right.

Undoubted, for home theater, Atmos has been significantly reduced.

More than movies: Dolby Atmos Music

Another recent development in the Dolby Atmos ecosystem is Dolby Atmos Music. Atmos Music takes the same immersive multichannel audio format used to create Atmos soundtracks for movies and applies it to the music production process. The result is a whole new way of listening to music.

If you have a Dolby Atmos-enabled A/V receiver, soundbar, or TV, you can access Dolby Atmos music through the Tidal app on one of these streaming devices: Apple TV 4K, Fire TV Stick 4K, Fire TV Cube, Fire TV Stick (2nd gen), Fire TV (3rd gen), and Nvidia Shield TV or Nvidia Shield TV Pro (2019 or newer models).

You’ll also need a Tidal HiFi subscription, which normally costs $20 per month. Alternatively, if you own an Amazon Echo Studio smart speaker, you can get Dolby Atmos Music through Amazon Music HD.

How does Dolby Atmos work at home?

We have some good news: There are now more ways than ever to experience Dolby Atmos at home, and some of them don’t require new speakers or new wiring. In fact, you may already have everything you need for Dolby Atmos.

Discrete Dolby Atmos Speaker

To get the most authentic Dolby Atmos experience, you need a traditional 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 surround sound speaker setup, as well as two or four overhead ceiling-mounted speakers. We describe these speaker setups in more detail below. It’s the best Dolby Atmos sound you can get, but it’s also the most expensive and most invasive because it involves quite a bit of re-wiring and probably some drywall holes and repairs. If you don’t mind ceiling cutting and wire-fishing, we have a great guide to setting up Dolby Atmos ceiling speakers.

This option also requires a Dolby Atmos-enabled A/V receiver (see below).

Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker

A Pioneer Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker
Bill Roberson/Nerdshala

A great alternative to installing overhead speakers is to buy Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers. These speakers provide additional “height” channels by bouncing sound from your ceiling into your viewing position. You can buy Atmos-enabled speakers as combo speakers—front or rear left and right speakers that have Atmos modules integrated on top, like those used in the Pioneer Elite Dolby Atmos speaker, or the more nimble Sib Evo from Focal.

Or, for those who have already invested in a set of surround speakers that they prefer, you can opt for a stand-alone “Atmos module” that sits on top of your existing front or rear left and right speakers. sit, such as Klipsch’s R-26FA and R- 14SA.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll need some additional speaker wires that go back to the Dolby Atmos-enabled A/V receiver, following the same path as your existing front and/or rear speakers.

Dolby Atmos-Enabled Soundbar

Vizio Elevate Dolby Atmos-Enabled Soundbar

It’s the perfect choice for someone who wants to get the benefits of Dolby Atmos without the hassle of wiring (or re-wiring) an entire room, or for those with smaller spaces. Although each manufacturer takes a different approach when reproducing Dolby Atmos sound from the same device, Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars have always included a set of upward-firing drivers, similar to Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers in the ceiling. -Receives reflected height sound. Some of these soundbars, like Sennheiser’s Ambeo Soundbar, do a great job of recreating the 3D quality Dolby Atmos is known for.

You’ll find a variety of approaches to the height-channel challenge among soundbars. Vizio’s Elevate soundbar has revolving speakers that automatically angle upwards for Atmos content, while JBL’s Bar 9.1 Atmos soundbar uses a set of fully wireless detachable speaker pods to form a discrete set of speakers. To get even closer to the sound of. Even Sonos has gotten into the Atmos act with its Arc soundbar for fans of the multiroom audio brand.

Even the most impressive soundbar can’t quite match the accuracy of a dedicated speaker, but unless you’re a surround-sound connoisseur, we doubt you’ll be disappointed. If you want to know more, we have a separate guide featuring all the information you could ever want on a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Virtualized Dolby Atmos

Bang & Olufsen Biosound Stage
Simon Cohen / Nerdshala

A recent trend is called virtualized Dolby Atmos, with the aim of bringing the cost and complexity of Dolby Atmos down to a manageable level. It’s clever software and audio engineering that lets Dolby Atmos-enabled A/V receivers mimic the effects of Dolby Atmos, but without the use of discrete or Atmos-enabled speakers. The more speakers you have, the more reliable the virtualized Dolby Atmos will be, but you can also get subtle hints of it with just a two-channel stereo configuration. This is why few TVs can claim to deliver Dolby Atmos sound only through their modest built-in speakers.

You can also find soundbars that offer this virtual Dolby Atmos sound. These tend to be more affordable than their Atmos-enabled counterparts, thanks to fewer speaker drivers, but not always. Bang & Olufsen’s Treasures Beosound Stage In fact more expensive than many full 5.1.4 soundbar systems, and yet it only reproduces Dolby Atmos sound with a 3.1 channel setup.

Make no mistake: Virtualized Dolby Atmos isn’t going to sound as great as other options, but if you’re on a tight budget (or you refuse to put multiple speakers around your room), it will let you experience some Dolby Advantages of Atmos Sound.

Dolby Atmos A/V Receiver

Onkyo 7.2-Channel 4K AV Receiver

Pioneer, Onkyo, Integra, Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha were the first manufacturers to announce models with Dolby Atmos, but the feature is now so common that every single receiver on our list of the best A/V receivers you can buy features Technology, even the cheapest ones. Generally, receivers that support at least 7.2 channels offer Atmos support, even those that go for less than $300. Of course, there are exceptions, but the point is you can get your hands on an Atmos-compatible receiver without breaking the bank.

Atmos-enabled receivers will have the processing capabilities to handle Atmos-encoded Blu-ray Disc and streaming content, as well as other major technology in object-based sound, such as DTS:X, and often others. Auro 3D, Too. As we mentioned above, some new A/V receivers even offer Virtual Dolby Atmos for more immersive sound than your existing speaker setup.

wireless dolby atmos

While it’s not here yet, it’s coming: The WiSA technology platform for wireless home theater speakers added support for Dolby Atmos via a firmware update in June 2020. WiSA supports up to eight channels of high-resolution wireless audio — enough for a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos setup — and when manufacturers update their WiSA systems with the new firmware, we’re likely to see a fully wireless Dolby Atmos system. should start.

dolby atmos tv

Some TVs, like LG’s great OLED and NanoCell models, support Dolby Atmos without any support…

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