A little over a year ago, I began experimenting with ways to expand my Dolby Atmos surround sound system beyond the 7.1.4 limitation of current consumer hardware. My ongoing pursuit of the best Atmos experience at home has recently led me to make additional upgrades. These days my home theater is so insanely complicated that I actually have to run three A/V receivers at the same time to manage all my speakers.
In most home theaters, 7.1.4 audio channels should be sufficient. While the Atmos format (like its DTS:X competitor) can support additional speakers, there hasn't been much consumer demand or pressure from manufacturers to do so. Only boutique high-end products such as the $37,000 product are currently availableTrinnov height 32decodes more than 11 channels simultaneously.
Still, for some of us, being limited to four height channels isn't enough to fill the top of the room with sound. My own home theater is a long room with a lot of space behind my seats. Combined with a low ceiling, it's difficult for just four speakers (two in the front of the room and two in the back) to convincingly reproduce the sound above my head. This problem is compounded by the fact that the locations I installed speakers in when building the home theater (before immersive sound was an issue for me) were far from ideal for Atmos. These speakers are now attached with cables through the walls and ceiling and I can't move them without rearranging the room. That's just not an option.
The better solution is to install additional speakers in the middle between the other height channels ("Top Middle" position). Unfortunately, the price of this Trinnov processor is way out of my budget. I had to find a way to manipulate a similar effect at a fraction of the cost.
(Video) Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4 – Where Next?
The first try
II wrote an article last yearI explained how I cobbled together a complicated system (jokingly dubbed "Zatmos") that used a second A/V receiver to derive additional channels from my ceiling. I recommend reading this article to understand the basic concept of how this is possible.
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Even then I wasn't the only one experimenting with this and I knew my Zatmos system wasn't as ideal as I would have liked.Over at the AVSForum, a member named Scott Simonian had gone even further to use totalthree A/V receiversin unison to create a 7.1.6 configuration (affectionately dubbed "Scatmos") that better matches the intentions of the original Dolby Atmos sound mixers.
For a while I decided not to go that far. The complexity of installing, connecting and configuring three A/V receivers seemed excessive to me. I felt that the results I got with Zatmos were good enough to accomplish most of that goal, and felt a little selfishly proud that I'd found a way to do it with just one extra create receivers instead of using two.
However, over the past few months, my attitude has changed and I have become more dissatisfied with the Zatmos configuration. At some point I realized that if I was going to do it, I had to do it right.
(Video) LG's all-new 770-watt 7.1.4 soundbar with Dolby Atmos and DTS X - LG SoundBar SN11RG REVIEW
Going Full Scatmos
The silly nicknames Zatmos and Scatmos can be more formally summed up under the "Dolby Atmos Extended" heading. I want to clarify here that I did not develop the Scatmos process. Credit goes to Scott Simonian and others at AVSForum for helping him solve it. With his permission, I'm just trying to explain it here.
As ridiculously complicated as the installation may be, one of the advantages of these experiments is that they are relatively inexpensive to assemble. Although your primary A/V receiver has Dolby Atmos (or DTS: fancy. Any receiver with at least Dolby ProLogic II processing will do. (If you're using multiple secondary receivers, I recommend they're identical to each other .)
With a little patience watching the for sale ads on my local Craigslist, I managed to snag a pair of used Marantz SR4400s for well under $100 each. This is a no-frills entry-level Dolby Digital/DTS (or similar) from 2003. It's so simple it doesn't even have an on-screen menu system. I just need to set it up through the front panel display. The receiver does not have HDMI and cannot, but does not have to, process lossless Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio signals. All it takes is a pair of analog stereo inputs (which every receiver will have) and ProLogic II.
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Simply finding a place to add another A/V Receiver to my system proved to be far more of a challenge than I would have liked. Since I didn't have enough room in my main equipment rack for this, I had to remove all of my components, disassemble the rack, rearrange the tiers, move most of the gear back, and reconnect. Then I had to do the same with the second shelf to add a layer. My Blu-ray and HD DVD players, previously on the main shelf, were moved to the second shelf so I could keep all the audio gear where the speaker wire would reach them. That in itself was a tremendous pain.
(Video) 4K-Heimkino-Tour! 7.1.4 ATMOS PLEX UNRAID!
With that done, here's the basic idea of Scatmos: You want to mount six ceiling speakers - in the "Top Front", "Top Middle" and "Top Rear" positions. (The sketch below does not represent my personal speaker layout, but I drew it this way to show how it worksshouldThis needs to be done.) Your primary A/V receiver will be set to decode its maximum 7.1.4 channels configured as Top Front and Top Rear.
All four height channels should be routed to the analog pre-out connectors on the primary AVR. You should not connect speaker wire to these channels on the primary AVR. For all height channels, the speaker wires connect only to the secondary AVRs.
The preamp outputs for the Top Front Left and Top Rear Left channels are routed to the AVR 2's Stereo Right and Left inputs.
(Video) Trinnov Altitude processors: Breaking the 7.1.4 surround barrier
The preamp outputs for the Top Front Right and Top Rear Right channels are routed to the stereo left and right inputs (reverse of AVR 2) on the AVR 3.
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If that sounds confusing, trying to keep it straight while actually connecting the cables and wires can be really daunting. I highly recommend drawing a diagram showing what should go where.
When functioning properly, each of the secondary downstream AVRs should receive a stereo signal consisting of part front and part rear, and form a center channel in between, using all common mono information for both (similar to how ProLogic II uses a center channel for would extract the dialogue). in normal circumstances at the front of your room between your left and right speakers). This gives you six channels of height information from the original four channels.
(Video) My 2021 7.1.4 Home Theater and Audiophile Stereo System!
That's the theory, simplified to its most basic elements. In order for it to actually work properly once the connections are made, it requires a few additional levels of difficulty, which I'll cover in part 2 soon.
Read Part 2
1. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 on Amazon|Raalmak
2. 747 DOLBY ATMOS DEMO 7.1.4
3. Dolby Atmos Object Demo on 7.1.4 speakers - 360 Spatial Audio
4. Top 5 Dolby Atmos movie scenes to test your system
5. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4ch 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with 8 wireless subwoofers
6. New heights in my Atmos Studio (Thanks Billie)
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Dolby Atmos takes Dolby's traditional 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups a step further by adding a third, overhead dimension. You're no longer constrained to a stereo system or standard six- or seven-channel arrangement.Are Atmos modules worth it? ›
Dolby Atmos is worth it if you can afford it. If upgrading to Atmos from a 5.1 surround sound system, Atmos will sound fuller. And a jump from a relatively archaic audio setup to Atmos would be game-changing. Atmos's three-dimensional, 360-degree audio experience is akin to the audio you listen to in movie theaters.How do I pass Dolby Atmos? ›
If you want to transmit Dolby Atmos from your TV to your AV receiver or soundbar, your TV must be equipped with at least HDMI ARC. As we mentioned above, HDMI ARC works with Dolby Atmos/Dolby Digital Plus, but if your TV is equipped with the newer HDMI eARC standard, it will also work with Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD.Which is better Dolby 7.1 or Atmos enabled? ›
Expert-Verified Answer. The sound is deeper and more precise with Dolby Atmos than with conventional Surround 7.1 systems due to the addition of overhead sound and superior calibration software.How many speakers do I need for Dolby Atmos? ›
We recommend installing four Dolby Atmos enabled speakers whenever possible. The use of four speakers will make the placement of overhead sounds more accurate, and you'll get more precise, realistic sounds when an object, such as a helicopter, passes overhead.Do you need HDMI 2.1 for Dolby Atmos? ›
You're in luck — all you need is a single HDMI cable to connect your TV and soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos (HDMI 2.0 for ARC should do the trick while HDMI 2.1 is necessary for eARC setups). This is the simplest option and will send audio directly from your TV to your soundbar.Can Dolby Atmos go through HDMI ARC? ›
Most Dolby Atmos audio can be played through HDMI-ARC using the Dolby Digital Plus codec. HDMI-eARC is required to play lossless Dolby Atmos audio using the Dolby TrueHD codec.How do I make sure Dolby Atmos is working? ›
- Atmos will only work when your TV is connected via eARC. It will not work if connected via digital optical cable.
- Navigate to the sound settings on your TV. ...
- Set the audio output to Dolby Digital or Auto.
- If your TV has a setting for Dolby Atmos compatibility, turn it on.
You can test Dolby Atmos output by checking your AV receiver or TV display for “Atmos” or “Dolby Atmos” options. You can also put on a Dolby Atmos movie and listen closely to see if sounds move from one corner to the other. Another option is to check your speaker app to see if it uses Atmos.Which Dolby Atmos mode is best? ›
Dolby Atmos - use Music mode at all times
Auto sometimes made my music / movies sound honky, with a slight bump in the mids. Movie and Voice modes have a weird mid scoop, which makes audio sound a bit "hollow" to me. Music seemed to be the best out of the bunch — and for every type of media, too.
The higher the bit rate, the better. You'd think that Dolby Atmos, being the more widely known brand name, would be the one with the higher bit rate. However, it's DTS:X has the higher bit rate. Dolby Atmos delivers a slower bit rate.Is Dolby Atmos the best sound quality? ›
Dolby Atmos is an improvement on what came before and a leap forward from surround sound. It's ultimately designed to put you in the center of it all when watching movies or listening to music to give you the most immersive sound possible.Does Netflix support Dolby Atmos? ›
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.Does Dolby Atmos drain data? ›
If you're listening to a 3-minute song, the data needs will differ according to the compression technique used, as follows: High-efficiency sound format – 1.5 MB. The high-quality sound format at 256 kbps – 6 MB. The lossless sound format at 24-bit/48 kHz – 36 MB.Is Dolby Atmos a one time purchase? ›
You can also activate Dolby Atmos for Headphones with a one-time purchase in the Dolby Access app, or purchase select partner headsets that include Dolby Atmos for Headphones activation.How far away should Dolby Atmos speaker be? ›
In most standard Dolby Atmos setups, listener level is set at 3.9 feet, or 1.2 meters. For some users, space constraints prevent the rear and front speakers from being placed at the same height.Can I use regular speakers for Dolby Atmos? ›
You can use any speaker for Dolby Atmos, provided you have a sufficient number of them for the full surround sound setup and a compatible AV receiver. Also, you will need elevated or ceiling speakers at an appropriate height and adequately aligned to experience the intended 3D effect of Dolby Atmos.How loud should Atmos speakers be? ›
In a properly calibrated room at 5.1/7.1, the surrounds are down 3dB, so they should be 82dB, not 85dB. When you're calibrating an Atmos room, everything is at 85dB, so you're already hearing the surround speakers 3dB louder than they should be (when listening to 5.1/7.1 content).Is HDMI or optical better for Atmos? ›
The biggest difference is that HDMI can pass higher-resolution audio, including the formats found on streaming services such as Dolby Atmos and DTS HD Master Audio. These formats can't be transmitted across optical.Is eARC necessary for Dolby Atmos? ›
Is eARC Required for Dolby Atmos? No, eARC is not required for Dolby Atmos to work. Dolby Atmos can work with regular HDMI ARC through the Dolby Digital Plus audio codec.
Dolby Atmos content is not delivered through optical connections or through wireless connections of Bluetooth, AirPlay, or Chromecast. Most video streaming services that offer Dolby Atmos content use the Dolby Digital Plus codec.How do I know if Arc is playing Atmos? ›
Listen to Dolby Atmos on Arc
Arc must be connected to your TV's HDMI-ARC input to play Dolby Atmos content. If Arc is receiving an Atmos signal, we will display that within the Sonos App on both the "Now Playing" screen, and within the settings portion of our app.
The Right Subscription Plan
Netflix hosts a few different subscription plans for its users. You'll need the Premium subscription plan which gives you access to Dolby Atmos and Ultra HD (4K) content.
In this HDMI ARC vs optical comparison, our experts conclude that the HDMI ARC is the better option and will produce better sound quality than the optical. HDMI ARC cables have video support and support higher sound resolutions, which optical cables don't.Is Dolby Atmos always on? ›
Choose how to listen to Dolby Atmos on your iPhone or iPad
Go to Settings. Tap Music. Under Audio, tap Dolby Atmos. Choose Automatic, Always On, or Off.
A Dolby Atmos-capable streaming device like the Apple TV 4K or Nvidia Shield TV/Shield TV Pro. You'll need a streaming music app from one of the services that has an Atmos Music catalog (Apple Music, Tidal, or Amazon Music) and a subscription level that gives you access to the Dolby Atmos Music tracks.Can you get true Dolby Atmos from a soundbar? ›
soundbars with height virtualization. Generally speaking, there are two different types of soundbars enabled with Dolby Atmos: those with upward-firing speakers and those that use height virtualization.How do I check my Dolby Atmos on Netflix? ›
Now, how do you find Dolby Atmos content on Netflix? It's all about watching for the logo. Netflix titles that support Dolby Atmos have a small speaker icon with the word "Atmos" next to it. Watch for this logo, and you'll know that you'll get the Atmos sound experience.Can you tell the difference with Dolby Atmos? ›
How does Atmos compare to surround sound? The biggest difference between Dolby Atmos and traditional surround sound is the use of channels. Audio over conventional surround sound is mostly referred to as 5.1 (five speakers, one subwoofer) or 7.1 (seven speakers, one subwoofer) channels.Do I need a soundbar if my TV has Dolby Atmos? ›
Without surround sound, you need to purchase speakers in order to use Dolby Atmos. Dolby Atmos can be used with surround sound, but you will not get the full experience without the right speakers and location.
Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec with support for up to 7.1 audio channels and is used with Blu-ray Discs. No major streaming platforms use it. Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology that allows sounds to be placed anywhere in a 3D environment.Does music sound better with Dolby Atmos? ›
With Dolby Atmos Music, the experience is better. Artists can create soundscapes that are much more seamless and compelling. They can precisely place sound “objects” in your listening space and engage your imagination by moving the objects around. Immersive music is now more affordable, too.Does Dolby Atmos reduce sound? ›
Like, it's a night/day difference in terms of max volume compared to standard. As soon as I enable Atmos, songs get so much quieter. Switch it off, and you can hear “real” full volume again.Is Dolby Atmos lossless? ›
Dolby Atmos averages around 6,000 kbps when a 48kHz sampling rate is used. But Atmos can be encoded losslessly at up to 24-bit/192kHz, which results in bit rates that can soar as high as 18,000 kbps.Is there a big difference between Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology built on the codec of Dolby Digital Plus (Dolby Digital Plus is also known as Enhanced AC-3). In addition to the multi-channel surround sound capabilities of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos adds additional height-based audio channels.What is the highest Dolby sound quality? ›
True to the artist's vision, Dolby True HD delivers the best sound possible for movies, music, and TV shows with lossless audio.
Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology, while lossless means that track was compressed without any data loss - tracks have higher bitrate, so they should sound better on supported devices than standard AAC, MP3 or any other tracks with lossy compression I guess.Which is better DTS or Dolby? ›
Which is better: DTS or Dolby Digital? Based on the specs alone, DTS beats its rival with higher bit-rates that promise a more realistic movie experience. That said, other factors such as signal-to-noise ratio and speaker calibration mean that plenty of audiophiles would rate Dolby above DTS.Do I need 7 speakers for Atmos? ›
While two Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, modules, or overhead speakers will deliver a compelling experience, we recommend using four if possible. This will deliver more precisely located and realistic overhead sounds.What does 7.1 Dolby Atmos mean? ›
Dolby Surround 7.1 increases the impact of surround sound by adding two audio channels. In the process, it improves the spatial dimension of movie audio and enhances overall audio definition for movie soundtracks.
A/V receivers for 5.1 or 7.1 sound
The A/V receiver will have to support all channels in a surround sound setup. To this end, it will need to have enough outputs for a 7.1 system. Note that it's possible to power a 5.1 system with a 7.1 receiver. These outputs simply remain unused.
A 7.1 system is a great choice for larger rooms where sound may get lost in the space. It provides a deeper surround sound listening experience. Theater quality media designed for a 7.1 system will come through clearer than it would on a 5.1 system.Do Atmos speakers need to be full range? ›
"Dolby Atmos audio is mixed using discrete, full-range audio objects that may move around anywhere in three-dimensional space. With this in mind, overhead speakers should complement the frequency response, output, and power-handling capabilities of the listener-level speakers."What is the best setup for Dolby Atmos? ›
The overhead speakers should be at a height between two and three times the vertical position of the listener-level speakers. The angle of elevation from the listening position (to the front and rear) overhead speakers in a 7.1. 4 reference layout should be 45 degrees.Which is better Dolby 7.2 or Atmos? ›
Overall, you need a lot of space both in your entertainment room and your budget to maximize the benefits of using the Atmos. The 7.2 channel system will have more compatible equipment for less money, but it won't have the same cinematic sound quality.Is Dolby Atmos really that much better? ›
Does Dolby Atmos Really Make a Difference? Dolby Atmos really makes a difference as it brings a higher sound quality and makes it seem like the sound is coming from all directions. It is the benchmark for theaters, so it makes a huge difference to your home setup.Which Dolby version is best? ›
True to the artist's vision, Dolby True HD delivers the best sound possible for movies, music, and TV shows with lossless audio.
How big is your room? If it's larger than around 350 square feet, consider a 7.1 speaker setup. If it's smaller, a 5.1 may be more appropriate.Is there anything better than 7.1 surround sound? ›
An expensive 5.1 surround system will likely beat a cheap 7.1 system when it comes to sound quality. Secondly, you need to factor in the size of your room.Which is better Dolby or DTS? ›
Which is better: DTS or Dolby Digital? Based on the specs alone, DTS beats its rival with higher bit-rates that promise a more realistic movie experience. That said, other factors such as signal-to-noise ratio and speaker calibration mean that plenty of audiophiles would rate Dolby above DTS.
TV shows and streaming video movies will be either stereo or 5.1 channels. DVD's are 5.1 channels. The premium-quality 7.1 audio, which is much more than just two more speakers, is found almost only on Blu-ray Discs.What's better 3D sound or 7.1 surround? ›
With surround sound, it's only possible to have sounds coming from four or so directions. In comparison, 3D sound enables the listener to perceive sound from every direction - including above and below them. Further, the best 3D sound technology enables listeners to pinpoint the directional sound.What is the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 Atmos? ›
How does Atmos compare to surround sound? The biggest difference between Dolby Atmos and traditional surround sound is the use of channels. Audio over conventional surround sound is mostly referred to as 5.1 (five speakers, one subwoofer) or 7.1 (seven speakers, one subwoofer) channels.