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Should I Upgrade to Atmos? (No replies)

Gerry Lemay
7 months ago
Gerry Lemay 7 months ago

Along with its brethren audio formats DTS:X and Aura, Dolby Atmos represents the best audio innovation to come along in years.  The short answer is "yes".  The long answer is that "it depends on your room".

The truth is that the basic "bed" channels including the front left, center, right (LCR) speakers and four side and rear surround speakers along with the Low Frequency Effect channel are essentially unchanged.  This is good news for those with existing 7.1 (or even 5.1) systems.  The basic framework of the sound field is still usable. These days any upgrade of your AVR or audio processor will likely include these new immersive technologies.  The good news is that any Atmos Blu-Ray will still work well with your speaker system.  The Atmos sonic objects will sweep around you... but not over you. 

So what about your room? Adding the full constellation of Atmos speakers means adding ceiling (top) speakers.  The Dolby choice is to decide on whether you'll use actual speakers in the ceiling or Atmos-Enabled speakers which shoot the ceiling with the "top" signals in order to facilitate a reflection.  Generally, most folks prefer actual speakers in the ceiling but a low ceiling might muddy the waters a bit.

The issue is that in a small room surround speakers tend to be very close to the listeners.  If any speaker is too close to a listener it can collapse the sound field.  Consider that the sonic objects are panned around the room using good old stereo imaging.  This means that the effect depends on hearing a balanced sound from all speakers.  This is akin to the effect of listening to a pair of stereo speakers off center.  As you move farther off center the stereo imaging collapses.  In effect, if you are too close to any speaker, you are really only listening to that speaker and the floating images tend to bounce from speaker to speaker instead of seamlessly panning around the room.  Never fear, even in the smallest room the sweat spot can be calibrated to reveal all the glory of immersive audio.  The problem is with seats that fill out the rest of your theater.

So what about your room?  That's why this Forum exists.  Post your questions and lets see if we can help.




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