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Dolby Atmos is a common household word among audio lovers, that’s why the engineers are working hard to make it more accessible. That’s why they have engineered the virtual Dolby Atmos. But is virtual Dolby worth it?
At A Glance: Virtual Dolby Atmos is worth it because you get an initial taste of Dolby on a lower budget but if you have experienced the real Dolby Atmos before, then you will not like the virtual Atmos at all.
Keep reading as we will be discussing the pros and cons and a few more aspects of this topic. Don’t forget to get the answers to the most relevant questions to this matter.
Real Vs Virtual Atmos. Which Is Worth It?
|Sound Realism Ratings
|Virtual Dolby Atmos
|Real Dolby Atmos
What is Virtual Dolby Atmos?
The virtual Dolby Atmos is just a simulation of Atmos by keeping all the speakers in front. This mainly happens in soundbars. Soundbars have all the channels built in it and we keep the soundbar in front of us below the screen.
The engineers try hard to simulate the object-based audio from these speaker drivers in the soundbar. The Dolby Atmos is object-based audio. It means that the audio should replicate the exact position of any object that is on the screen. The thundering clouds should feel like they are above the audience in the theater room.
This is called virtual Dolby Atmos when you are simulating it from speakers that all are placed in the front.
Keep reading as we will be discussing its pros and cons in each comparison section.
Know Is Dolby height virtualization worth it? Height virtualization is different than the virtual Dolby. You will know more things from my this guide. Don’t forget to check the poll stats at the bottom.
What is Real Dolby Atmos?
The real Dolby Atmos is when you place physically speakers all around the theater room and the required position.
The required positions for a real Dolby Atmos are when you install 3 speakers in front, two speakers at the side, two speakers at the back, and at least 2 speakers in the ceiling. But 4 speakers in the ceiling is the best approach to go with it.
These speakers help the algorithms of the audio to properly replicate the position of an object on the screen in the form of audio in your theater room.
The exact impact point and travel trajectory of the bullet on the screen will be replicated in the form of audio in the room. You can feel the bullet fly at the side of you and hit the wall.
Disclaimer: This object replication in the form of audio will work best when you have the best encoded Dolby Atmos movie or music.
Here is the list of the best encoded Dolby Atmos movies by SVsound. You can’t get proper object replication if the movie is not encoded the best. Because when I was watching the Jungle Cruze. Sometimes the voices below the deck of the boat were showered by the ceiling speakers over me. What? The Dolby Atmos should not work in that way.
Hunt pros and cons in between this comparison and stay for the final verdict. I have a plot twist for you there.
Read my this guide about, are the Atmos speakers worth getting? You will know which type of speakers to choose for this spatial audio.
Audio Realism Comparison Of Both
- In creating the realism of video in the form of audio the real Dolby Atmos is the king. There is no way that a front speakers setup can beat a speakers setup that is installed all around the audience and above them. These speakers can put you in the middle of the action that is happening on the screen. You will feel like you are in the army of Mel Gibson running toward the English. Yes, seriously! It can give you those vibes.
- In realism creation, the virtual Dolby will scrumble to the ground if you have ever experienced the real Dolby. Because the algorithms can replace the real speakers in real positions. The algorithms only try to trick your brain into thinking that a sound is really object-based but in reality, it is not. But if you have not experienced the real Atmos then virtual will seem like a game-changer for you.
- Virtual is a winner in the budget section. Because you can easily find a soundbar that can give a proper virtual Dolby Atmos for under $300. The budget here is affordable and you can feel some level of object-based audio in the comfort of your home. No more rushing to the professional cinema to enjoy the Dolby Atmos. Read my this guide, LCR speakers vs soundbar.
- The real Dolby will require a receiver with an amplifier for better results. These alone can cost you from $700 to $1000+. Next, you will have to buy at least 11 speakers to properly set up the Dolby Atmos. These speakers will add up another $700 to $1000+.
- Virtual will win here again. You can buy a Dolby Atmos soundbar and it can be set up in a few minutes after unboxing it. You will need a single HDMI cable to connect it to your theater system. No special experience or knowledge is required to set up these soundbars. Check this high-speed and future-proof 8K HDMI cable on Amazon.
- You will have to drill holes in the ceiling for the best Dolby Atmos experience. You will have to connect all the speakers to the receiver and amplifier. You will have to place them properly. There will be more things to consider for safety concerns with wires and electricity. At least after complete setup, you will be required to calibrate all the speakers as well.
What is Virtual Dolby Atmos good for? (The Final Verdict)
The virtual Dolby Atmos is good if you want to have the taste of object-based audio on a budget and want to skip the installation hustle that comes with real Dolby.
The audio quality will be worth it if you haven’t tasted the real Dolby Atmos before but if you have tested then you will not like the Virtual Atmos at all.
I won’t keep my example here as you have listened to my opinion already. My friends in the home theater community also say bad things about Dolby Atmos because they have to experience the real.
I will not say bad words because the virtual is the best option for those that are newbies to this home theater game and want to have an easy setup and cheap Atmos within their reach.
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Does Virtual Dolby Atmos improve sound quality?
The virtual does improve the sound. You can feel the objects on the screen all around you if the soundbar or the receiver is built well and from reputable brands.
Reputable brands such as Sonos and Denon have the best engineers for this job. The engineers have the skill and budget to put into the development of this technology.
They can give a good taste of the real Dolby Atmos.
Does TV need to support virtual or real Dolby Atmos?
The Dolby Atmos is not dependent on the TV. The soundbar, receiver, and the media you are playing should support the Dolby Atmos.
No matter which TV you are using, if the playing media, soundbar, or receiver support the Dolby Atmos you will get the Atmos.
Does HDMI ARC support Dolby Atmos?
The ARC supports only a compressed version of the Dolby Atmos. To get a lossless Dolby Atmos, you must go with the eARC.
The eARc has the suitable bandwidth for Dolby Atmos to transfer it.
Can Dolby Atmos be simulated?
The Dolby Atmos can be simulated either by the receiver or the soundbar.
Many receivers can simulate the Atmos for you. But these receivers are expensive, but the soundbars are affordable. But they can simulate it very well.
Helpful Resources For The FAQs To Read More
- Know how to optimize the home theater audio in 5 steps. These steps are very interesting to follow. (Resource for the first answer)
- This was my opinion, read more about it on Digitaltrends Blog. (Resource for the third answer)
- This was my opinion, read more about it on the Audioholics forum. (Resource for the third answer)