How To Upgrade Your Home Theater Sound with Dolby Atmos


Add Immersive Sound to Your Home Cinema Experience

Surround sound is prevalent these days in just about every kind of video entertainment. For broadcast TV, Dolby Digital has been the standard sound format since the transition to digital in 2009. If you have a compatible soundbar, home theater receiver, or other audio processor and the right speakers, you can enjoy surround sound on many shows, from broadcast to cable to streaming. How well those shows use the extra channels of audio, however, varies greatly.

But you may already know all that. What you may have heard of but not know as much about is Dolby Atmos and another competitive surround format called DTS:X. These are often called immersive surround formats because, well, they are more immersive! While regular surround sound is great, a good Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) soundtrack might blow you away. So, what is immersive sound, and why is it a great upgrade for your Charlotte, NC home theater? That’s what we’ll get into below!

SEE ALSO: 3 Projection Screen Considerations for Your Home Theater Design

What Does Dolby Atmos Add to Surround Sound?

It’s important to remember that surround sound starts at the creation stage. Movie and show sound engineers use authoring tools to mix sound to maximize the impact of the scenes in the story. They direct sound to channels in the front, sides, and rear of the sound field – what you hear with the right setup. Dolby Atmos takes that up a few notches, giving sound engineers far more flexibility in creating a more immersive soundscape. Rather than restricting sounds to specific channels, engineers can place up to 128 discrete sound objects in a scene. With overhead speakers, the density of sound makes everything more three-dimensional and realistic, as if you're really in the scene. Bullets will whizz by hyper-realistically, sounds will surprise from behind, and you may want to duck when planes fly overhead. The sense of height, direction, and movement of sound is several steps above what you experience in other surround setups. 

What Do You Need for Dolby Atmos? 

There are several configurations you can use for immersive Dolby Atmos sound, ranging from good to amazing. The basic layout in 5.1.2. A basic home theater surround layout is 5.1, which means left, center, and right front speakers, two surround speakers, and a subwoofer. The “.2” adds two height speakers to the equation for overhead effects. Depending on your space and preferences, you can go to 9.2.4 and more in a home cinema with a high-end configuration that includes the right processor and number of amplifiers. That means more surround speakers, more subwoofers, and more height speakers to cover more seating positions appropriately. A typical Atmos or DTS:X capable home setup will have a 7.1.2 configuration for enveloping sound from good soundtracks.

What Can You Listen to with Dolby Atmos?

Here’s the good news. Almost any soundtrack can be improved with Dolby Atmos sound. Why? Because most Atmos processors and receivers can simulate Dolby Atmos by directing ambient sounds in realistic ways through the extra speakers in the setup. So even standard surround soundtracks – which includes practically everything on Netflix and other streaming – will sound more immersive. And excellent soundtracks that take full advantage of object-based audio like Mad Max: Fury Road will bring a whole new level of aural experience to your film watching. Will cable news sound better? Perhaps not so much. But then again, that’s not why you have your theater!


Are you ready to upgrade to immersive sound in your Charlotte home theater? Reach out to us by calling 704-412-4040, filling out an online form, or connecting with us instantly by clicking the chat window below. We look forward to working with you!

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