Dolby Atmos technology can make your home theater come alive with the same type of stunning sound you experience in movie theaters, when watching movies like Gravity or the latest remake of Godzilla. It can be relatively simple to upgrade, but some home theaters just aren’t suited to Atmos audio, so it’s important to consider the pros and cons
Anyone who saw the movie Gravity in a theater came away amazed at the unprecedented “3-D sound” they experienced. In fact, the film won the Oscar for sound editing last year – even though it wasn’t literally “editing” which created such memorable audio. It was really the new sound technology known as Dolby Atmos, which is now an option for home theaters like the ones that DTV Installations designs for homes in East Hampton, Brooklyn NY, and throughout the tri-state area.
Dolby has touted its new Atmos system as the ultimate in performance, because it doesn’t force audio technicians to manually assign sound to various speaker channels during the mixing process. Instead, filmmakers must only plot out the action in a film; Atmos software does the rest, by intelligently determining the best speakers to use in order to reproduce the sound realistically. That creates the stunning audio heard in Gravity or the latest remake of Godzilla.
Progress usually has a price. In the case of Atmos, the price is often additional speakers. That may not be a huge problem for movie theaters, but it’s definitely an issue in many home theaters. Is Dolby Atmos the right choice for you?
Experience: When watching a movie recorded with Atmos sound in a properly-designed Atmos home theater, the experience will indeed be much more realistic. The sound of someone yelling while running across your screen will actually make the experience believable, and if characters are being drenched in a thunderstorm you’ll hear the rain coming down from above while thunder is approaching menacingly. It’s the “immersive” experience home theater audio has never completely delivered in the past.
Simplicity and Price: If DTV Installations is creating a new home theater for you or updating your old one, it’s relatively simple (and not enormously expensive) to add a few extra speakers in your ceiling. We’ll discuss the size of your theater in a moment, but Atmos systems for smaller rooms (with two speakers in the ceiling) can be handled by moderately-priced 7.2 receivers; if you already own one, there may already be a free Atmos software upgrade available for it.
Optimal Ceiling Height: While you don’t need a huge home theater in order to enjoy Atmos sound, to hear its full effect you need a certain type of room. Specifically, the ceilings where you’ll be installing speakers must be at least ten (10) feet high and accommodate the proper number of speakers. If you have very high, vaulted ceilings, though, the speakers will be too far away for Atmos technology to work properly.Dolby offers an alternative for rooms which don’t meet those specifications, “reflecting speakers” which are placed on top of the front speakers and pointed at the ceiling. Unfortunately, the Atmos effect is nowhere near as dynamic with reflecting speakers, and they look rather odd in a home theater.
Price: Yes, we mentioned this as an advantage for smaller rooms, and also mentioned that additional speakers aren’t hugely expensive. But cost comes into play if you’re trying to upgrade an existing setup to an ideal Atmos system which will sound as good as the one in a movie theater. Atmos works well with seven speakers, but for optimal sound it uses as many as eleven speakers – and that’s more than current 7.1 audio receivers can handle. So if you want to go all the way with Atmos, you’ll need to lay out the money for a new receiver in addition to extra speakers. (Blu-ray currently supports only eight (8) channels of audio, so when they eventually come out with new 11-channel players, you’ll probably want one of those, too.)
For example it can cost from $699 like Onkyo HT-S5800 5.1.2 Channel Dolby Atmos Home Theater System W/ Bluetooth and up to $5,213 with Onkyo – Bundle DEFTechBP-8060ST+DEFTechA60+DEFTechCS-8040HD+DEFTechSR-8040BP+TX-NR3030 11.2-Ch Dolby Atmos at BestBuy.
Dolby Atmos technology can give your home theater a real audio boost when watching the growing number of films being released with Atmos sound. If you’re not sure whether it’s the right choice for you, though, just give DTV Installations a call. We’ll be happy to discuss the options and possibilities with you. And since our consultations are always free as part of our great customer service, why not ask us about motorized window treatments, universal remote controls or smart home automation while you’re at it?