Dolby Atmos: Why it’s superior, and how to get it

Just just a few quick years in the past, Dolby Atmos nonetheless appeared just like the tech of the longer term. Sure, it had been in theaters for some time, however primarily solely higher-end theaters, and whereas it was coming to the house theater, who actually wished to take care of all these audio system? Now issues have modified and Atmos is in every single place. It’s robust to discover even a low-end A/V receiver that doesn’t help Atmos (and its major competitor, DTS:X), and it’s even obtainable in soundbars for these searching for a succinct possibility.

Still, we haven’t even begun to hit full adoption of Dolby Atmos, so chances are you’ll be left questioning what it is, and what phrases like 3D and object-based sound imply. How many audio system do you want? Do you want a brand new receiver? We’ve obtained that solutions to that and a complete lot extra.

There’s plenty of information to take in right here, so we’ve damaged it all down beneath and will proceed updating this text as issues evolve.

Dolby Atmos within the theater: How is it totally different?

In theaters, Dolby Atmos considerably expands the audio system used, in addition to the best way encompass sound is employed, opening up new potentialities for movie-makers to present a extra practical, immersive sound expertise. Until now, theaters have been in a position to reproduce a most of eight particular person tracks of encompass sound, unfold out amongst various numbers of audio system.

For instance: With the 7.1-channel encompass sound nonetheless utilized in most theaters, you get three channels up entrance (left, proper, and heart) two aspect encompass channels (left and proper), two rear channels (left and proper), and one subwoofer channel. When designing a movie’s soundtrack, administrators are guided by these totally different channels to steer sound results across the room. But regardless of how many audio system get positioned in a sure space — say, the left aspect of the room for the left encompass channel — all of these audio system have been restricted to one channel of sound, so all of them performed the identical sound on the similar time.

By distinction, Dolby Atmos is able to processing up to 128 channels of sound, which will be routed to up to 64 particular person audio system. This method, sound engineers can primarily depart the channels behind, as a substitute inserting “sound objects” in pinpointed areas and shifting them all through the theater. With Atmos, the ceiling can be lined with any variety of full-range audio system that work in live performance with the entire different audio system within the room so these objects will be positioned nearly wherever inside a digital hemisphere. In a method, you may chase the sound together with your ears, monitoring it and correlating it to the on-screen motion. For instance, if it rains within the film, the rain comes from instantly above you. If a helicopter flies overhead and to the proper, the sound will begin behind the room, transfer overhead, and disappear off to the proper aspect.

Of course, for the house theater, Atmos is scaled down significantly.

How does Atmos work in house theaters?

We’ve obtained some excellent news: If you have already got a encompass sound setup, you in all probability received’t have to change all and even most of your private home theater elements to take pleasure in Dolby Atmos at house. Existing Blu-ray gamers can ship Dolby Atmos sound data from new Atmos-infused Blu-ray discs, and most of your current audio system can stay as the inspiration of your encompass system. You could, nevertheless, want to change your A/V receiver (until you personal a mannequin that may add Atmos help through a firmware replace), and you will want to add some audio system to the room or, in some instances, re-purpose current audio system. You might also want to improve your streaming gadget of alternative should you’re trying to stream films in Dolby Atmos.

Dolby Atmos A/V receivers

Pioneer, Onkyo, Integra, Denon, Marantz, and Yamaha have been the primary producers to announce fashions that includes Dolby Atmos, however now the function is so widespread that each single receiver on our record of the very best A/V receivers you should purchase options the expertise, even the most affordable ones. Generally many receivers that help no less than 7.2 channels provide Atmos help, even people who go for lower than $300. There are exceptions, in fact, however the level is which you can get your fingers on an Atmos-compatible receiver with out breaking the financial institution.

Atmos-enabled receivers could have the processing capabilities to deal with Atmos-encoded Blu-ray discs and streaming content material, together with the opposite main expertise in object-based sound, DTS:X, and usually others like Auro 3D, as properly. They’ll additionally pack the amplifier task wanted to accommodate Atmos-specific audio system as properly. Additionally, Atmos speaker channels will get discrete sound data — sounds received’t merely be “derived” from different channels as is the case with Dolby’s Pro-Logic IIz encompass processing.

Dolby Atmos soundbars

Maybe you need the immersion that Dolby Atmos brings, however you both don’t have the house or simply don’t desire a full house theater audio setup. Atmos-enabled soundbars debuted in 2015, and firms like Sony, Samsung, LG, and extra provide them, and LG even provides Atmos-compatible soundbars with its spectacular OLED TVs. How they work can differ from soundbar to soundbar, and totally different fashions will be kind of immersive, however all of them embody upward-firing drivers related to these utilized in many customary Dolby Atmos speaker configurations. If you need to know extra, we’ve got a separate information that includes all the data you might need on Dolby Atmos soundbars.

Streaming packing containers and sport consoles

Unlike Blu-ray gamers, streaming packing containers want to particularly help Dolby Atmos. For the time being, not many streaming companies provide Dolby Atmos films or TV reveals, and solely a comparatively small variety of streaming units help Atmos. The Roku Ultra and Roku Premiere — each of which additionally help 4K video and HDR (excessive dynamic vary) — help Atmos playback, as does the latest-generation Amazon Fire TV. Apple has stated it will deliver Dolby Atmos to the Apple TV 4K through a firmware replace, however there was no indication of when this might occur.

When it comes to sport consoles, the state of affairs is somewhat murkier. The PlayStation four helps bitstream audio output, so it ought to help Dolby Atmos-enabled Blu-rays, whereas the Xbox One S and Xbox One X function UHD drives and have obtained an Atmos replace, supported on each Blu-ray and 4K UHD Blu-ray (although Microsoft has admitted there are some hiccups there at current). When it comes to video games, nevertheless, the PS4 line — together with the PlayStation four Pro — doesn’t help Atmos, which first got here to video games with the discharge of Star Wars Battlefront. The whole Xbox One lineup, together with the Xbox One, Xbox One S, and Xbox One X does help Atmos gaming, as do Windows 10 PCs.

Atmos speaker configurations

Dolby Atmos 9.1.2 layout using 11 channels with two in-ceiling height speakersDolby Atmos 9.1.2 structure utilizing 11 channels with twoin-ceiling peak audio system

As talked about above, Atmos in business theaters expands the capabilities of the aspect and rear encompass audio system considerably, however within the house theater surroundings, the entrance left, proper, heart, aspect surrounds and rear surrounds are handled the identical. For now, the extra sounds will probably be coming from above.

There are a number of methods to get Atmos peak channels into your lounge. Many supported (and we’d argue, most well-liked) configurations see audio system added to the ceiling. But for these eventualities the place ceiling speaker placement is just not attainable, there are a variety of choices.

For primary 5.1.2 Atmos (the “.2” representing the entrance left and proper peak channels) there are a few methods to go. One method is to get a pair of “Atmos-enabled” entrance left and proper audio system or encompass audio system, like these used within the Pioneer Elite Dolby Atmos audio system, or the extra nimble Sib Evo from Focal, each of which fireplace sound on the ceiling at an angle, bouncing it again down to the listening place. Another method is to set a pair of audio system referred to as “Atmos Modules” on prime of the entrance left and proper audio system and/or encompass audio system, like Klipsch’s R-26FA and R-14SA. In both case, these audio system will goal discreet sounds up on the ceiling to be mirrored down towards the listener, thus simulating a ceiling-placed speaker.

In both case, the thought is to add actual overhead sound sources, increasing the enveloping impact of us search for in a encompass surroundings.

With these new configurations comes a brand new numbering scheme. No longer will we simply have 5.1, 7.1, and 9.1. Now there’s 5.1.2, 5.1.four, 7.1.2, and many others. Here’s a run-down of the assorted codecs:

Dolby Atmos with a 7 Channel Receiver
Configuration Options
5.1.2 Configuration 
5.1 structure with one pair in-ceiling peak audio system (entrance)
5.1.2 Configuration
5.1 structure together with Dolby Atmos-enabled entrance audio system or add-on speaker modules

Dolby Atmos with a 9 Channel Receiver
Configuration Options
5.1.four Configuration 
5.1 structure with two pair in-ceiling peak audio system (entrance and encompass)
5.1.four Configuration 
5.1 structure together with Dolby Atmos-enabled entrance and encompass audio system or add-on speaker modules
7.1.2 Configuration 
7.1 structure with one pair in-ceiling peak audio system (entrance)
7.1.2 Configuration 
7.1 structure together with Dolby Atmos-enabled entrance audio system or add-on speaker modules

Dolby Atmos with an 11 Channel Receiver
Configuration Options
7.1.four Configuration 
7.1 structure with two pair in-ceiling peak audio system (entrance and encompass)
7.1.four Configuration 
7.1 structure together with Dolby Atmos-enabled entrance and encompass audio system or add-on speaker modules
9.1.2 Configuration 
9.1 structure with one pair in-ceiling peak audio system
9.1.2 Configuration 
9.1 structure together with Dolby Atmos-enabled entrance audio system

Do I’ve to purchase new audio system?

Even although devoted peak channel speaker configurations, akin to those listed above, are going to provide the greatest, most immersive sound, there’s an alternative choice. New A/V receivers are starting to hit the market providing one thing referred to as “virtualized” Dolby Atmos. This means the receiver does some sound processing utilizing software program to create an Atmos-like sound utilizing simply your current 5.1, 7.1, or 9.1 audio system — no devoted peak channels required. We can’t but say how properly it works, however it may very well be simply the reply for individuals who aren’t eager about wiring new audio system. If you don’t thoughts a little bit of ceiling reducing and wire-fishing, we’ve obtained a terrific information to putting in Dolby Atmos ceiling audio system.

Watching Dolby Atmos films at house

Dolby Atmos formally arrived on Blu-ray in 2014 with the discharge of Transformers: Age of Extinction. Since then, the format has been supported on greater than 100 releases and counting, each in customary Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray codecs. The price of launch was initially sluggish, however as extra house theater lovers are shopping for Atmos-compatible A/V receivers and soundbars, it’s turning into extra and extra widespread, once more, together with DTS:X. For instance, Star Wars: The Last Jedi is Disney’s first Dolby Atmos-compatible launch.

When it comes to streaming, your choices are presently restricted. Netflix added help for Dolby Atmos in 2017, however solely a handful of titles can be found within the format, and the supported is restricted to LG OLED TVs, Xbox One consoles, and Windows 10 PCs. Vudu has supported Atmos since 2015, and now provides greater than 30 titles within the format. Vudu can be much less restrictive than Netflix, supporting Atmos on any streaming gadget that’s suitable with the format.

How do I do know if I’ve obtained what I want for Dolby Atmos?

Because getting true Dolby Atmos sound at house requires plenty of elements to all work collectively seamlessly, it can get a bit complicated. That’s why we’ve created this helpful information which might act as your private Dolby Atmos guidelines. If you observe the foundations, you’ll be up and operating with Dolby Atmos very quickly!

Is Dolby Atmos well worth the improve?

It’s nonetheless (comparatively) early days for Dolby Atmos within the house, regardless of how rapidly the expertise has taken off. With that stated, it completely does add an additional stage of immersion to your viewing expertise, even when it will not be fairly as spectacular as Atmos will be in theaters. Anything that provides to the “you are there” impact is a win in our e book. So so long as you don’t discover it prohibitively costly, we are saying go for it.

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