What’s Dolby Atmos and what audio system do you want?

Dwelling cinema is not simply concerning the image – sound is equally as vital, and there have been important developments in that space lately.

Now not are we confined to five.1 and seven.1 encompass sound methods, we are able to have totally encompassing, cinema-like experiences because of the proliferation of Dolby Atmos.

Obtainable on films, sports activities broadcasts, and even video games nowadays, Atmos is doing for sound what Blu-ray and 4K Extremely HD did for video efficiency.

However, what’s Dolby Atmos? Why is it thrilling? And what do it’s good to get probably the most from it?

What’s Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos began within the cinema, and takes the longstanding encompass sound idea and provides additional top channels to supply a extra enveloping 3D sound.

So, somewhat than have sounds of raindrops, or a helicopter shifting across the similar top as your ears with 5.1, for instance, Atmos means you can hear rain truly falling from above or a helicopter shifting from over your head and into the space. No less than, that is the speculation.

In a cinema or film theatre, that is delivered at its easiest, with as much as 64 audio system supported. However it’s extra more and more being utilized in soundbars and speaker packages for the house.

Right here, it introduces new speaker configurations, akin to 5.1.2, the place there are 5 audio system across the room – typically a centre channel and 4 surrounds – one subwoofer and two top channels. These top channels might be delivered by in-ceiling audio system or drivers that fireside sound upwards.

You may even have 5.1.4, 7.1.2 or 7.1.4 – generally even 9.2.6 in probably the most difficult setups. Nonetheless, Dolby Atmos is not outlined by the variety of channels. The truth is, Dolby Atmos known as object-based sound, as whereas its foundation is 10 mattress channels in a 7.1.2 setup, it could possibly even have as much as 128 particular person objects that may be positioned independently wherever in a 3D soundscape, and transfer round freely.

When exported for a house atmosphere combine, that is downscaled barely to as many as eight dynamic object teams – however the idea is identical. One of the best factor about object-based sound is it could possibly adapt to nonetheless many audio system you might have.

What do I must get Dolby Atmos at house?

For the absolute best Atmos expertise, in-ceiling audio system are the way in which to go.

Nonetheless, not everybody is ready to facilitate them, so the extra widespread strategy at house is to get upward-firing Atmos audio system to ship the sound as much as the ceiling and replicate again right down to the listening place. And, that is the shape adopted by many speaker, AV receiver and soundbar producers right this moment.


For these with conventional separate audio system – like a house cinema encompass sound system – this would possibly simply imply the addition of upfiring modules. A number of manufacturers, together with Onkyo and KEF, provide audio system that you just place on prime of your current left and proper floorstanders, or close by on an AV stand. These are devoted to Dolby Atmos and are angled barely to bounce the pontificate the ceiling and again right down to your sitting place.

Some producers construct upfiring items into their left and proper bookshelf or floorstanding audio system. So, in addition to hearth sound in direction of you, in addition they hearth upwards too.

With the intention to drive devoted Dolby Atmos audio system, whether or not they’re upward firing modules or are built-in to the ceiling, you will want a suitable AV receiver. Nearly all of main AV manufacturers help Dolby Atmos throughout their ranges, and all at totally different value factors to swimsuit totally different budgets

However that is not the one path to getting Dolby Atmos in your house.

What Dolby Atmos soundbars can be found?

If you do not have house for a full Atmos encompass sound setup, you may nonetheless get among the added top impact with a Dolby Atmos soundbar.

Many of the massive audio manufacturers provide Dolby Atmos soundbars in some kind. Many provide fashions with upfiring audio system, both constructed into the highest of bar or angled upwards, whereas some provide a digital Atmos impact as a substitute, with intelligent but delicate sound dealing with that locations sounds wider and better nearly as a substitute.

A number of years again it was solely the high-end bars that had this feature, however we’re seeing a a lot wider choice of mid-range bars providing Atmos too, that means it is getting less expensive to get that boosted audio impact.

What different {hardware} do I would like for Dolby Atmos?

An enormous a part of the puzzle, in fact, is the supply. You might want to discover a solution to feed that Dolby Atmos sign to your audio system. The place to begin for film followers is prone to be a Blu-ray participant – and you may most likely need one which helps 4K Extremely HD.

Nonetheless, so long as the Blu-ray participant has been set to output a direct bitstream sign, your Dolby Atmos-enabled receiver or soundbar ought to be capable of decode the sign and ship the peak channels to the Dolby Atmos audio system.

You’ll in fact even have to ensure the Blu-ray disc you are watching has a Dolby Atmos soundtrack on it. You’ll be able to examine the rear of the case to see if it does.

Some TV companies provide Dolby Atmos – BT Sport Ultimate will provide you with Atmos on some stay soccer matches if in case you have the 4K Extremely HD set-top field. Sky additionally gives Dolby Atmos on some sporting occasions and Sky Cinema films by its Sky Q field.

Media streaming is one other space that provides Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Disney+ every help Dolby Atmos on films and TV reveals, as does Apple TV by its Sensible TV apps and personal set-top field. By way of different streaming gadgets, Roku helps it, in addition to Android TV packing containers, such because the Nvidia Protect TV, and Amazon’s Fire TV.

You should use a video games console too, because the Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox One S, PlayStation 5 and PS4 all help Atmos soundtracks on movies, both by streaming, with some video games adopting the format too. The newer Xbox consoles additionally help Dolby Atmos for gaming.

Some flagship TVs now help Dolby Atmos as nicely, with built-in sound methods and upfiring audio system to help it natively. It is best to examine although earlier than you buy your subsequent TV although – some promote as supporting Atmos however can solely provide it nearly, or move it by to a soundbar or receiver.

You’ll need an HDMI 2.1 port that helps HDMI eARC know-how to be able to hear full-fat lossless Atmos, although. Older HDMI ports with customary ARC can move Atmos although within the lossy Dolby Digital Plus codec – you won’t hear a complete lot of distinction however in the event you’ve spent the money on a great setup you need to be sure you’re listening to it at its greatest.

You’ll need the eARC help at each ends of the system although – so in the event you’re passing it by to a soundbar, that may want eARC help too – it tends to be discovered on units and gadgets launched in 2019 and up.

A closing possibility is to buy a TV with Dolby Atmos audio system constructed into the set itself – akin to Sky’s personal related TV

What content material can I hear in Dolby Atmos?

One of many first films to be launched with an Atmos soundtrack was Transformers: Age of Extinction in 2014. Fortunately movies with Atmos have enormously progressed since then, in each high quality and amount. Many 4K and customary Blu-rays on the cabinets may have an Atmos soundtrack – so examine your assortment, as chances are you’ll have already got a library able to go.

BT TV offers Atmos by its 4K Extremely HD sports activities channel. Stay sports activities have been proven with the added top since 2017, however to get it it’s good to have the BT YouView+ 4K Extremely HD set-top field.

Sky Q additionally sports activities Dolby Atmos in its content offerings. This contains many film downloads if in case you have a Sky Cinema subscription and Premier League soccer protection.

Dolby Atmos Explained What Is It And How Do I Get It image 5

Netflix gives Atmos content material, as does Amazon Prime Video. Most new content material added to Disney+ additionally is available in Dolby Atmos, together with Marvel and Star Wars films and TV reveals.

You should purchase or lease many digital movies with Dolby Atmos soundtracks by the likes of Apple TV and Rakuten TV.

Loads of Xbox video games now have Dolby Atmos soundtracks too – take a look at Forza Horizon 5 or Halo Infinite on an Xbox Collection X or S, for instance.

Most just lately, Dolby confirmed it was bringing Atmos soundtracks to some Audible audiobooks. You will discover out extra on how one can take heed to that in our full feature.

What about Dolby Atmos on laptops, telephones and tablets?

In more moderen years we have seen Dolby Atmos being talked about in different phrases – not simply within the context of the house cinema expertise.

If it could possibly play audio, Dolby needs to carry the Atmos expertise to it. Which means we’re seeing laptops, tablets and telephones stating that they provide Dolby Atmos help – although in fact the expertise is kind of totally different to that you’re going to hear at house or within the cinema.

In these circumstances, it is about virtualising a extra immersive soundscape. Sure, these gadgets sound higher when the Dolby Atmos mode is turned on, however it’s not aiming to position sound objects in house such as you would possibly get at house out of your separates system or soundbar. It is about making a feeling of sounds being in other places, utilizing some intelligent audio trickery that delays – simply barely – when sounds are delivered, to provide a sense of them being nearer or additional away.

Which means you will must take Dolby Atmos on gadgets like mobiles with a small pinch of salt – it is utilizing the identical branding, however it’s not likely the identical factor.

What about Dolby Atmos Music?

Extra just lately, we have seen Dolby Atmos transfer away from the house cinema house and into the music house, with Dolby Atmos Music. It is a spatial audio format, similar to it’s for cinema, however now with music tracks as a substitute.

The music tracks should be specifically blended for Atmos, so you may’t simply play an everyday track by an Atmos system and anticipate it to work. On the time of writing, Apple Music, Tidal and Amazon Music embrace Dolby Atmos music tracks of their catalogues.

In fact, to listen to them at their greatest, you will must have the {hardware} that helps Atmos playback. Amazon’s Echo Studio does simply that, as does Apple’s HomePod 2 and the Sonos Era 300.

You can even take heed to them utilizing any common headphones and a suitable telephone or pill, however this will likely be a digital combine as mentioned above – utilizing the audio system will present a way more immersive expertise.

You’ll be able to learn extra about Dolby Atmos Music in our full feature.

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