We have been making a lot of noise lately about a new sound option called Dolby Atmos, and this has left more than a few people asking “what is it”.
Most people will have heard of Dolby as they have been synonymous with good movie audio for decades. Letting people know of their existence with their quick intros at the start of most movies (the steam train is still my favourite).
Whilst they do a lot of research and development in many areas (including video and music reproduction); cinematic sound is what the general public know Dolby for. In line with this comes their latest release: Dolby Atmos
Atmos is a dynamic change in the way sound engineers will look at producing sound. This has been brought about by focusing on “Audio Objects” instead of “Audio Channels”.
In this instance, an audio object is anything that makes a sound (e.g. car, bullet, baby, helicopter). Dolby Atmos can track up to 128 simultaneous objects in an audio mix. This means that a sound is no longer restricted to just a channel or moving across a channel. These audio objects can now be placed and moved anywhere in the sound field including above the listener. This allows for a more immersive soundtrack.
By now some people are asking: “Why, why fix what isn’t broken?” The answer is simple, it was broken, we just didn’t know.
Atmos “puts sound in motion all around you”. Basically it is making everything sound like it would in real life. Doing this makes the viewer (you) feel like they are part of the experience, like it’s happening “all around you”. So in simple terms it breaks down to: Better Sound = Better Experience.
Now that we know what is going on, how do we get this in our homes?
Dolby Atmos breaks down to a couple of simple systems based on the existing 5.1/7.1 Surround sound platform. The difference is an add on of .2 or .4. For example if you already have a 5.1 setup and would like to move to Atmos you would use either 2 or 4 in-ceiling speakers to make a 5.1.2 or 5.1.4. These in-ceiling speakers allow the system to better envelope you with sound.
After the speaker selection and placement has been sorted, it is just a matter of choosing an AVR that will suit all your needs (including the ability to decode Dolby Atmos). The Yamaha RX-A3040/2040, Marantz AV7702 and Denon AVRX5200 are just a few of the Atmos capable receivers on the market.
We have a Dolby Atmos 7.1.4 setup working in store, with an Epson projector, anamorphic lens and screen, coupled with a Yamaha RX-3040. So come down for a demonstration and find out if Dolby Atmos is for you.