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Dolby Atmos Explained for Beginners

When constructing a smart home theatre, homeowners tend to focus on the size of the screens, comfortable seating and making the room a darker cozy space. Although these are necessary for the perfect home theatre experience, the sound is a forgotten but important element. 

Home theatres have come a long way in making a movie from good to great. In the early 2000s, surround sound allowed a movie scene to make a sound come from either a speaker placed on the left or a speaker placed on the right.

However, what if there was a scene, for example, with a bug moving around a character in the movie? How can the viewer watching also experience that bug moving around them? Through Dolby Atmos

What is Dolby Atmos?

To simply describe Dolby Atmos through text, it’s like sitting in a room and having 360-degree sound. From left to right, front to back and top to bottom. 

Let’s dig deeper. Home theatres are typically designed with surround sound, up to five speakers, and one subwoofer (5.1). Imagine a scene of a race car driving. When that race car drives by, viewers hear the sound from all the speakers at once. 

Home theatres designed with Dolby Atmos will have up to seven or more speakers (7.1). So, when that race car we talked about drives by, viewers will hear the car as if it is driving through the room.  

A high-level difference between surround sound and Dolby Atmos is receivers and speakers with up-firing drivers to bounce sound off the ceiling (or if your budget allows, you can install in-ceiling speakers) to get that 360-degree experience.

Why do people like Dolby Atomos?

Sound bounces off through acoustics and makes movies, video games and music with life-like audio. Or simply, the sound is jumping from one speaker to the next rather than all speakers playing at once. If there is a scene with a car driving in the rain, a viewer will hear the rain above them, the car moving throughout the room, and the splash of water coming from another speaker. How cool is that?

How does it work?

The sound moves based on coded coordinates programmed by sound engineers who are involved with the production of a film, video game or music. The code knows how many speakers there are and then adapts to it, so no programming is needed on the user’s end.

We encourage you to test it out yourself. Grab a pair of headphones and listen.

Where can I get it?

The best place to begin is by reviewing your home theatre room layout. Many people believe placing more speakers around a room is sufficient; however, the angled location of the speakers significantly impacts the sound quality.

Next, we recommend beginning with a Dolby Atmos audio receiver. Your devices must support Dolby Atomos to work. If they do not already have it, the movie you watch will resort to surround sound. This includes the soundbar, audio and video receiver, the media player (the TV, video game console, etc.), and the actual content (like the movie or video game). Essentially, look for any Doby Atmos logo, meaning the content or device can decode audio and properly place the sound coded for its location.

Quinte Smart Homes Home Theatre

Make a “sound decision” by having your home theatre professionally designed and installed with Quinte Smart Homes. Costs will vary based on your budget, room layout, current equipment, and home theatre vision. However, the more info we have on your project, the better job we can do for you.