What is Dolby Atmos ?
Dolby Atmos is the new groundbreaking development in surround sound for home and public cinema’s. This new format has been created after years of research into how humans actually preceive and process sound.
This is much more than just a minor improvement – it is the most exiting new development in sound for many years – the new format truly delivers a whole new listening experience by transporting you deeper into the story with sound moving in every dimension throughout the room with clarity and tru-to-life-detail. A 3D listening experience is provided from audio generated from the front, rear, sides and above the listening position.
The new format is delivered by two fundamental changes: the addition of more speakers and a change in how sound is processed.
Home cinema surround sound has conventially used a 5.1 foramt, with 3 speakers at the front, 2 behind you and a subwoofer. Over recent years additional speaker zones and subs have been added to provide 7.1, 7.2 or even 9.2 formats. Dolby Atmos surround sound can be adapted to any speaker configuration from 7.1 speaker layout to well over 30 speakers in a commercial cinema. Primarily in the home, it will be based on something between a 7.1 to an 11.2 format based on the practicality of installation and room design. There are still 3 speakers at the front, with 2 at the rear, 2 at the sides and 2 or 4 speakers above you !
Existing surround sound processing is achived by mixing independent sounds together into channels. Dolby Atmos processing works entirely differently by treating sound as objects which travel through a 3D space between each speaker. This precisely places and moves sounds almost anywhere to provide a realistic multi-dimensional listening experience.
What do you need for Dolby Atmos ?
– A new AV amplifier/processor will be required which has Dolby Atmos compatibility and additional speaker terminals
– New or additional speakers:
For new installations/upgrades there are new 2-way Dolby Atmos certified speakers that are avialble (with two speakers in one unit). However for existing installations where you may already have a 5.1 set-up, then these speakers are still perfectly adequate – but you will need additional speakers (and cabling) to provide the sound fields to the side and above. To create the sound fields coming from above you, this can be achieved via installation of conventional ceiling speakers or using small Dolby Atmos designed speakers which can sit near the floor or even on top of your existing speakers. They have angled drivers and clever processing to provide a reflected sound from the ceiling which can actually be more effective than direct ceiling speakers due to the diffuse sound effects.
– Content / Source:
As always, with new technology, it will take time for the available content to catch up.
Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros will be producing and re-releasing Blu-ray movie discs with latest Atmos soundtracks. The first and only movie currently released with this soundtrack is The Transformers film available on blu-ray disc. Content is also becoming available online through various streaming services. Existing movies will also sound better with the new processors/speakers.
Existing Blu ray disc players will work fine along with existing internet streaming devices/games consoles