If you’ve been blown away by the sound in the cinema recently, Dolby Atmos may be the reason why. The first surround sound system to use an ‘object oriented’ rather than ‘channel oriented’ approach, it has given movie makers a whole new palette with which to craft immersive 3D audio backdrops to films.
Dolby Atmos was introduced by Dolby Laboratories in 2012 as a cinema-only format, but last month a number of consumer manufacturers including Yamaha, Marantz and Denon revealed that Atmos is coming to their products later in 2014.
What is Dolby Atmos?
Current home theatre surround sound uses discrete channels to create an immersive listening experience based on directing sound to specific channels in specific locations (front, centre, rear etc). There’s a fixed number of channels and speakers, and the sound has to be mixed to suit that limitation.
Atmos differs in three main ways. Firstly there is a massive increase in the potential number of channels – one manufacturer is developing a product with 32 channels!
Secondly, the sound isn’t mixed into a fixed channel setup, but is dynamically recreated in 3D space depending on the individual speaker configuration in use, so there is more room for creative expression during production, and more flexibility in how home theatres can be set up.
Last but not least, it emphasises sound from above, with the addition of either ceiling speakers or an addition to existing speakers that fires upwards and reflects sound off the ceiling.
This video gives a good run-down of the differences between Atmos and ‘conventional’ surround formats:
How do you get Dolby Atmos at home?
To date, Yamaha, Marantz, Denon, Onkyo and Pioneer have announced support for Atmos. We’re most excited about the new Yamaha Aventage RX-A3040 and RX-A2040, which launch in August/September 2014 and will have Atmos capability added a short time later via a firmware update.
New speakers will be required too, either in-ceiling (2-4 recommended as a minimum) or speakers designed to project and reflect off the ceiling. These could be stand-alone models or add-ons to your existing speakers, depending on your preference.
Dolby have put together an excellent FAQ that addresses the most common questions about Atmos – check it out here >>
Find out more
To find out more about how you can upgrade your home theatre system to Dolby Atmos, feel free to call us in our Brisbane store on (07) 3552 7000. We’d be happy to talk though all the options, and we hope to be able to demo Atmos soon too!