What is Dolby Atmos and Does It Make a Difference?

Features Dolby Atmos

Integra is just one of the manufacturers that feature Dolby Atmos

What is Dolby Atmos and Does It Make a Difference?

Channel-Based Surround Sound

Before Dolby Atmos emerged, surround sound was produced by five or seven speakers and either one or two sub-woofers. This form of surround sound is called “channel-based”. Let’s look at an example to explain this concept. If you are watching the movie Top Gun and a jet flies over from behind you to in front of you, the sound transfers from the rear speakers (or channels) to the front channels.

Object-Based Surround Sound

Dolby Atmos takes surround sound to the next level. The concept of Dolby Atmos is called “object-based” surround sound. Dolby Atmos utilizes the five or seven surround speakers as were mentioned previously, but also takes it a step further with additional speakers in the ceiling which are labeled as height speakers. If in-ceiling speakers are not possible, there are other options. Some of the speaker manufacturers have created upward-firing speakers which reflect off the ceiling and simulate in-ceiling speakers. When Dolby Atmos audio is created for a movie, it is designed on a computer in a 3D space which represents the room. An object in the movie that is going to create a sound can be placed anywhere in that space, and multiple speakers (or channels) are used simultaneously to make it sound like the object is right where you place it. For example, imagine a couple talking in the rain. You can hear the rain hitting the umbrella from above, and hear it hitting the ground. Dolby Atmos adds another dimension to surround sound and transports you right into the movie. Now when a helicopter circles and then lands, it sounds like it is coming down right in the middle of your living room.

Not All Movies Are Created Equal

Once you upgrade your system to Dolby Atmos it is time to get the movies that make the magic happen. Not all movies incorporate Dolby Atmos. If you are selecting a Blu-ray disc it will say on the back of the cover at the bottom if it has Dolby Atmos as an audio format option. If you have a Kaleidescape Movie Server and you are purchasing your movie from the Sony Store online make sure to check the audio formats available before making your final selection. Then, sit back and enjoy a whole new experience. Dolby Atmos!

Here are a few great movies that really demonstrate what Dolby Atmos can do.

Mad Max: Fury Road
• Dolby Atmos seems to put you in Max’s mind as his thoughts and voices surround you right when the open credits start.
• This movie is loaded with Dolby Atmos effects.
• Check out the scene in which George Clooney and Sandra Bullock are working on the Hubble Telescope as well as the re-entry scene.
• In this movie, there is an impressive scene where you feel like you are in the belly of the aircraft as bullets are whizzing nearby inside the plane as well as bombs exploding just outside the hull.

What is your favorite movie with Dolby Atmos?

To learn more about Dolby Atmos click here.

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