Uses Bluetooth technology
Up to two channels of compressed audio (stereo)
Ideal for headphones, earbuds, and portable speakers
Uses a standard Wi-Fi network
Up to two channels of high-definition audio (stereo)
Ideal for smart speakers, multiroom speakers, and speakers that expand soundbar-based systems
Creates a dedicated wireless network, specifically for the sound system
Up to eight channels of ultra high-definition uncompressed audio; supports Dolby Atmos®
Highest globally-recognized standard for wireless speaker systems
Ideal for true cinema surround-sound systems
We have already discussed the basics of Dolby Atmos in another blog. You now know Dolby Atmos is the wave of the future, and you should create your ultimate home entertainment environment with Dolby Atmos. But what is the best system and setup for your home?
Dolby Atmos sound adds a new dimension to the listening experience... literally. Typical well-designed surround sound systems create a broad and deep sound field surrounding the listeners. Now, Dolby Atmos adds a third dimension of height. By adding height to the sonic environment, we are doing more than surrounding ourselves in sound. We are genuinely immersing ourselves in it. Dolby Atmos allows producers and engineers to create a more engaging and realistic experience than ever before. So, how do we bring it into our homes? Let's look at some options and applications.
Dolby Atmos is being utilized increasingly in various products, from soundbars and standalone speakers to audio/video receivers (AVRs) and even TVs. Examples of innovative new products that support Dolby Atmos include the WISA SoundSend wireless audio transmitter and the Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2 immersive audio system. Apple is also pushing its spatial audio category, and many games are being released with Dolby Atmos. With all that said, we are still on the cusp of innovation. Dolby Atmos will grow more over the coming years, so it's essential to know and understand how products reproduce Dolby Atmos. If we arm ourselves with knowledge, we can make an informed choice for our entertainment goals. Three reproduction methodologies are available on the market: virtual, upfiring, and in-ceiling.
Virtual reproduction of Dolby Atmos sound can be found most commonly in entry-level and mid-level soundbars and doesn't utilize dedicated speakers to create height channels. Instead, digital signal processing is used to simulate the capabilities of real (upfiring or ceiling-mounted) speakers by using the main channel speakers of the system and creating a simulated height channel. The virtual technology applies height cue filters to overhead audio components in a mix before it is sent to speakers in front of the listener. Dolby says these filters "simulate the natural spectral cues imparted by the human ear to sounds arriving from overhead.”
Picture yourself watching an action movie. There is a fight, and the hero needs to escape. He's desperately waiting for an approaching helicopter. Traditional sound systems will play the sound of the approaching chopper in one dimension or two dimensions if you have rear speakers. A standard system will pan the sound from left to right as it passes the hero, but there are zero overhead sounds. On the other hand, Virtual Dolby Atmos will estimate the volume and placement of the helicopter sound at every point in the approach. This makes this feel immersive, more engaging, and more heart-racing.
Virtual Dolby Atmos systems can certainly be considered better than no Dolby Atmos. But, a dedicated pair of height speakers or ceiling-mounted speakers can often produce an experience similar to that of a professional cinema. Consider Virtual Dolby Atmos a good option if you want a fantastic entertainment experience but are on a tight budget.
Upfiring Dolby Atmos speaker solutions are becoming increasingly popular for two reasons. They utilize real speakers to create the Dolby Atmos effect and don't require elaborate installation of in-ceiling speakers. Meaning you can get real Dolby Atmos without cutting holes in your ceiling. Upfiring speakers are commonly seen in mid-level to high-end sound bars. They can also be integrated into left and right monitor and tower speakers.
The Platin Audio Monaco 5.1.2 is an excellent example of a system with real instead of virtual Atmos. The Platin system features front satellite speakers with upfiring drivers to play Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos Music height channels. Monaco 5.1.2 plays sound overhead, as well as all around you.
Upfiring speakers can even be independent, standalone speakers that can be placed on top of left and right speakers. All these options rely on the same principle of firing sound toward the ceiling at an angle so that it reflects down toward the listener. This method is a highly effective way to add the height dimension to a home audio system. Upfiring speakers provide real Dolby Atmos to create a 3D sound experience that lets you feel your movies, sports, shows, games, and music. If you rent or don't want another DIY job or expensive installation cost, this option is for you.
Professional Dolby Atmos cinemas often install numerous speakers in or on the ceiling above the audience to create a uniquely immersive audio experience. Lithe Audio provides perfect in-ceiling speakers if you are looking for this option. These ultimate in-ceiling speakers deliver unparalleled wireless connectivity with the WiSA SoundSend audio transmitter or an added option for a hardwired connection.
Suppose you don't want a hardwired option. Any Smart TV can interact with WiSA Certified speakers using WISA SoundSend, including other Dolby Atmos options (currently upfiring speakers). Plug the transmitter into power and connect it to your TV's HDMI ARC/eARC port. Then you have a dedicated network for uncompressed, high-definition audio superior to Bluetooth or wi-fi transmission methods. WiSA SoundSend can be fine-tuned using the iPhone or Android app and features MyZone, which will customize your speakers' output around a sweet spot you choose in the room. Is the perfect seating spot on the left side of the room? Fine-tune the speakers for that spot and get the most out of your audio system.
Placing speakers in the ceiling adds the height dimension without relying on bouncing sound off the ceiling or creating it virtually. However, it does add holes in your ceiling and a considerable amount of installation.
Good news, your beams can stay. Suppose you are lucky enough to have gorgeous architectural elements. You don't need to worry about beautiful beams or other interior design elements. Flat ceilings tend to work best, although minor architectural variations should not pose significant issues. Textured ceilings, skylights, and even physical items such as ceiling fans will not significantly degrade the overall experience.
According to Dolby Labs, there is no hard and fast rule for room size for great Dolby Atmos sound. Dolby Atmos can be very effective in multiple room sizes and works best in rooms with ceilings between 7.5 feet and 12 feet high. However, there are minimum room sizes; typically, spaces should be at least 10 feet long and 9 feet wide.
Domestic Dolby Atmos systems that rely on upfiring or in-ceiling solutions usually consist of two or four-height speakers. Systems utilizing two high speakers will have the height speakers located toward the front of the room positioned in the front left and front right of the listening environment. The second pair of height speakers will be located similarly in the rear of the room.
It's important to note that some TVs are beginning to incorporate Dolby Atmos audio reproduction virtually or with upfiring speakers. As TVs become the center of our home entertainment universe, it's essential to understand their role.
TVs are now the continent aggregator and control point for streaming services, including movies, television, music, and more. Because Dolby Atmos is the future of sound, more and more of our content comes with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack. That soundtrack can be decoded by the TV or an external device such as an AVR or a wireless audio transmitter like the WiSA SoundSend. In any case, the Dolby Atmos signal can then be passed on to speakers around the room to create an authentic cinema-like sonic experience.
We can anticipate a continued increase in Dolby Atmos content coming into our homes in droves. With numerous options, from soundbars to affordable surround sound systems to professionally installed solutions, it is easy to fully realize the highly produced immersive audio content that is now a part of TV shows, movies, music, sports, and gaming. Big, beautiful, modern TVs coupled with exceptional, immersive Dolby Atmos audio systems create an authentic cinema experience in our homes and make family time, date nights, or evenings with friends even more fun and exciting.
Featuring front speakers with upfiring drivers to play Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos Music height channels, Monaco 5.1.2 with WiSA SoundSend takes home entertainment to new heights.