The Dolby Atmos is getting more popular day by day for home use. There are varieties of technologies developed around it. The technologies may be cheap in one shape and expensive in another. But is Atmos really worth it at home?
At A Glance: The Atmos is worth it at home only if you have at least 4 height speakers and play a media source that is decoded in Dolby Atmos properly and has a receiver or amplifier that supports Atmos channels. It is not worth it when expecting the same from the Atmos soundbar or up firing-speakers.
Keep reading as I will be giving you the proper setup on a silver platter for the top-notch Atmos experience in your home theater. I will also discuss when Atmos is not worth it and when it is worth it. You will have the answers to all of your questions after reading this guide.
Dolby Atmos At Home (A Brief History)
When Dolby Atmos was invented for the first time, it was integrated into professional cinema first.
Dolby at that time required 140+ channels. But it can work on at least 5.1.2, but I recommend going with 5.1.4. Now this layout can be applied at home.
But there are many more things to be taken care of to have the best Atmos experience at home.
You need at least 4 Atmos speakers to have the flow of effects from one set of 2 speakers to another.
You need to feel the flow of any object that is going above the main character on the screen. This flow can be replicated by Atmos speakers in the form of audio. But there is a catch, where should these speakers be installed to have the best experience?
Keep reading to know.
What about having Atmos without ceiling speakers?
There are various types of speakers available for Atmos effects. They are up-firing speakers, height elevated speakers, soundbars, and then ceiling speakers.
They all claim that they can give you Atmos effects, but their claim is partially or completely wrong in almost all types. But the true Atmos effects can only be given by the ceiling speakers.
The ceiling speakers have the best position in the room that can create Atmos speakers effectively. The Atmos was invented to give overhead effects. That’s why the most successful type of speaker and speaker placement is in the ceiling.
I have compared them all in this guide. Are Atmos speakers worth it? You can know in this guide to go with this type of speaker if you are not comfortable with ceiling speakers.
But my recommendation is to go with ceiling speakers for the best possible experience, and you must install 4 speakers in the ceiling for it.
However, you can read my this guide. How many Atmos speakers do you need per room? In this guide, you will know to use how many speakers for your Atmos experience at home and your audience number.
When does Dolby Atmos actually sound better, and when does it not?
The Dolby Atmos at home is a wonderful experience to have, but there are a few checks to mark before going for it.
These checks are very important because Atmos is not a simple thing to set up. It is not plug-and-play.
The soundbar brands claim that their Atmos soundbar is plug-and-play. Yes, they are right, soundbars are plug-and-play, but they can’t provide you with the true magic of the Atmos.
The soundbar can never replace a full Atmos setup. It can’t come close to it, no matter how expensive it is.
Keep reading to know more about these simple yet unknown facts about Atmos at home.
Know, does Atmos height virtualization worth it? I have experimented with a lot of layouts of Atmos to check which one is worth it.
What to expect from it at home?
Before setting up the Atmos system, you must set up your mind for it.
When you finally set up the Atmos system and transition from traditional surround sound. Don’t expect that you will start feeling the 3D sound effects right away and throughout the movie.
For example, if the movie’s running time is 1 hour and 43 minutes. Don’t expect that you will feel the Atmos effect for the complete running time.
You will only feel the overhead effects when an object is above the head of the main or other characters on the screen. When that overhead object makes any sound such as sound effects or dialogue. You will start to hear that sound from the overhead speakers.
So my point here is that you won’t hear the Atmos effect throughout the entire running time of the content, but in the time when there are overhead effects in the movie, you are watching.
Know how to optimize home theater audio? I have discussed the 5 most effective steps.
What to expect from the media source?
If you see on the Blu-ray label that it is a Dolby Atmos movie. A few times it will not be accurate.
Not all Dolby Atmos content is decoded properly. You won’t get the Atmos effect in those, or the opposite. The sounds below the main character will be thrown out by the overhead speakers.
Yes, this happened to me. The voices from the deck of the ship were coming out of my overhead speakers. This happened to me in the Jungle Cruise movie.
But yet there will be movies that will be decoded perfectly in Dolby Atmos. You will feel the overhead effects right in your theater room.
Like saving Private Ryan, John Wick, or the Charles Angles 2019, they were decoded in Dolby Atmos properly. I felt the Atmos effects very well.
When one of the angles was sliding through her umbrella on a wire. I felt like she passed by me. It felt so good.
So, the final thing is that it depends on the decoding of the content too. You will get Atmos effects in one content and not in another.
What to expect from the AV receiver or Amplifier?
Not every AV receiver or amplifier can give you the Atmos effect. You need an AV receiver that is designed for the Atmos effects.
You can get Atmos in almost all modern receivers. If you are expecting Atmos from an old receiver, it is time to upgrade.
Know, how to update your old home theater safely? I have revealed unique tips here.
Do you really need it at home? (Final Verdict)
Here are two arguments for you.
- You need it if you want to feel the 3D bubble of the video content you are watching. Yes, Atmos can create a 3D image of the content in your home theater, but in the form of audio.
- You need it if you mostly watch action movies. Here you can enjoy the overhead effects because mostly in these movies there are a lot of objects flying by the characters or other characters talking from above. But if you watch romcoms or musicals a lot, then you don’t need the Atmos at home.
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Is there a big difference between 5.1 and Atmos?
There is a big difference between the two. The 5.1 is just on the ground and the Atmos is on the ground and also above you.
To summarize, the comparison is short. The Atmos is the 3D sound field and the 5.1 is 2D. Many receiver brands claim that their receiver can give you Atmos in the 5.1, but that is only a simulation and not real Atmos.
Is it worth it to upgrade to Atmos?
It is worth upgrading, but you won’t be wowed by it if you are transitioning from 5.1 then you will be just ok with it but if you have never experienced surround sound and jump straight to Atmos then you will be wowed by it.
If you have experience with 2D sound then adding the overhead effects will be felt like “hmmm ok, I’m getting overhead effects”. You will still like it, but it will blow your mind if you have never experienced 2D surround sound before, and you directly set up the 3D Atmos. Then you will feel like the sound is really coming from all sides.
What is better than Dolby Atmos?
The DTS is better than Dolby Atmos when it comes to convenience, but Dolby Atmos is better in terms of delivering those 3D audio effects.
The DTS is better in convenience because you don’t have to drill holes in the ceiling and fish the wire in the ceiling and the walls. Because in DTS you just have to install height elevated speakers, and you are good to go, but for Atmos’ best experience you have to install ceiling speakers.
Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More
- This was my opinion, read more about Dolby Atmos on this CNET Blog. (Resource for the first answer)
- This is was my opinion, read more about it in this Reddit Discussion. (Resource for the second answer)