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What is Dolby Atmos?

An amazing home cinema is about a combination of a great picture and great sound to give a fully immersive experience to excite your senses. Picture and sound continue to evolve and in this article, we're going to focus on the audio experience, in particular, Dolby Atmos.


New Dolby Atmos Logo


Dolby Atmos... What is it?

Sound would traditionally be heard in a 5.1 set up, with the 5 speakers being around you at ear level and the .1 being the subwoofer. What Dolby Atmos brings is extra height channels, which means sounds is far more immersive with sound coming from above you, not just around you. Therefore, sound such a rain, wind, gunshots or helicopters which would normally just be heard flying around the room at ear level, those sounds can now come from above you resulting in a much more realistic sound experience. It's what we're used to hearing in the cinema, with over 4,400 Dolby Atmos cinemas around the world as of April 2019.

This also brings with it new speaker configurations. We're all used to the 5.1 or 7.1 set ups, but now we have 5.1.2 or 7.1.4 along with other variants. What this means is that along with the 5 or 7 speakers at ear level and the standard .1 subwoofer, we now also have the addition of .2 or .4 at the end meaning height or overhead speakers.

Example Dolby Atmos Configurations

How can I get Dolby Atmos?

For the best possible Dolby Atmos experience, you need sound to come from above you and the best way to achieve this is with in-ceiling speakers. With the speakers correctly located above you, the sound comes from exactly where it needs to come from and where the sound engineer intended it to come from when mixing the soundtrack.

In order to drive those speakers you'll need a AV receiver or processor that supports Dolby Atmos configurations. Most modern manufacturers now support Dolby Atmos across their range as Dolby Atmos is pretty much a standard requirement nowadays.


What else do I need for Dolby Atmos?

In order to get a Dolby Atmos signal into your system, you need source hardware and source content.

For those who still love physical discs, a Dolby Atmos compatible Blu-ray player is still a great way to watch movies with immersive sound and picture. Of course, to get the best from the system, the source disc should have a Dolby Atmos soundtrack.

Dolby Atmos is also available through some TV services such as a Sky or BT TV. Sky have added Dolby Atmos to some of their Ultra High Definition (UHD) content. This includes English Premier League games, Sky Cinema downloads and selected Box Sets.

Media streaming is one of the most common way for people to consume media nowadays. With the rise of Netflix, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus and Apple TV+, there's certainly no shortage of streaming services and they all support Dolby Atmos! All you need is a compatible player such as an Apple TV 4K, Roku device or nvidia Shield.

There is also games consoles to such as the Playstation 4, Xbox One X, Xbox One S all supporting Dolby Atmos soundtracks and better still, many games now also have Dolby Atmos so you can really immerse yourself with a room full or sound during a tense battle scene.


Next steps

If you'd like to hear a Dolby Atmos system and what can be achieved in your own home, we have systems on permanent demo at our showrooms. Of if you have any questions, please don't hesitate to contact us.

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