A little over a year ago, I began experimenting with ways to expand my Dolby Atmos surround sound system to beyond the 7.1.4 limitation of current consumer hardware. My continued quest to achieve the best Atmos experience at home has recently driven me to make additional upgrades. These days, my home theater is so crazily complicated that I actually need to run three A/V receivers simultaneously to manage all my speakers.
In most home theaters, 7.1.4 channels of sound should be plenty enough. Even though the Atmos format (as well as its competitor, DTS:X) can support additional speakers, there hasn’t been much demand for that from consumers or much push from manufacturers to do it. Currently, only boutique high-end products such as the $37,000 Trinnov Altitude 32 will decode more than 11 channels at once.
Nonetheless, for some of us, a limit of four height channels isn’t enough to fill the top of the room with sound. My own home theater is a long room with a lot of space behind my seats. That, combined with a low ceiling, makes it difficult for just four speakers (two in the front of the room and two in the back) to image a sound above my head convincingly. This issue is compounded by the fact that the locations where I had installed speakers when I built the home theater (before immersive audio was a concern I gave any thought to) were less than ideal for Atmos. Those speakers are now fixed in place with wiring through the walls and ceiling, and I can’t move them without remodeling the room. That simply isn’t an option.
The better solution is to install additional speakers in the center between the other height channels (Top Middle position). Unfortunately, the asking price for that Trinnov processor is absurdly beyond my budget. I needed to find a way to jury-rig a similar effect for a fraction of the cost.
(Video) Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4 - Where to next?
The First Attempt
I wrote an article last year explaining how I had cobbled together a convoluted system (jokingly dubbed “Zatmos”) utilizing a second A/V receiver to derive extra channels on my ceiling. I advise reading that piece to understand the basic concept of how such a thing is possible.
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Even at the time, I was not the only person experimenting with this, and I knew that my Zatmos system was not as ideal as I would have liked it. Over at AVSForum, a member named Scott Simonian had gone even further to use a total of three A/V receivers in unison to create a 7.1.6 configuration (affectionately known as “Scatmos”) more accurate to the intentions of the original Dolby Atmos sound mixers.
For a while, I decided not to go that far. The complexity of installing, connecting and configuring three A/V receivers seemed like overkill to me. I felt that the results I had with Zatmos were good enough to get me most of the way there, and I had a certain amount of egotistical pride that I’d figured out a way to do it with just one extra receiver rather than two.
However, in recent months, my attitude changed and I grew less satisfied with the Zatmos configuration. Eventually, I knew that if I was going to do this, I needed to do it right.
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Going Full Scatmos
The silly Zatmos and Scatmos nicknames can be more formally grouped under the heading of “Dolby Atmos Extended.” I want to be clear here that I did not develop the Scatmos process. Credit for that goes to Scott Simonian and others at AVSForum who helped him work it out. With his permission, I’m just trying to explain it here.
For as perhaps ridiculously complicated as they may be to install, one of the saving graces of these experiments is that they can be assembled relatively inexpensively. Although your primary A/V receiver must be a Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) model capable of decoding 7.1.4 channels of sound from a Blu-ray or UHD immersive audio soundtrack, the secondary receivers don’t need to be nearly as fancy. Any receiver that has, at a minimum, Dolby ProLogic II processing will do. (If using multiple secondary receivers, I recommend that they be identical to each other.)
With a little patience while monitoring For Sale ads on my local Craigslist, I managed to pick up a pair of used Marantz SR4400s for well below $100 each. This is a no-frills, entry-level (or close to it) Dolby Digital/DTS model from 2003. It’s so basic that it doesn’t even have an on-screen menu system. I have to set it up using only the front panel display. The receiver doesn’t have HDMI and cannot handle lossless Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio signals, but it doesn’t need to. All it needs is a pair of analog stereo inputs (which any receiver will have) and ProLogic II.
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The simple act of finding a place to put another A/V receiver in my system proved to be far more of an ordeal than I wanted. Because I didn’t have enough space for it on my main equipment shelf, I had to remove all my components, take the shelf apart, rearrange the levels, put most of the equipment back, and hook it up again. Then I had to do the same thing with the second shelf in order to add a level. My Blu-ray and HD DVD players, which had previously been on the main shelf, moved over to the second so that I could keep all the audio equipment together where the speaker wire will reach it. This, in itself, was a tremendous pain to do.
(Video) 4K Home Theater Tour! 7.1.4 ATMOS PLEX UNRAID!
With that finished, here’s the basic idea behind Scatmos: You want to mount six ceiling speakers – in the Top Front, Top Middle and Top Rear positions. (The following sketch does not represent my personal speaker layout, but I’ve drawn it this way to show how it should be done.) Your primary A/V receiver will be set to decode its maximum of 7.1.4 channels, configured as Top Front and Top Rear.
All four of the height channels should be routed to the analog pre-out connections on the primary AVR. You should not attach any speaker wire to those channels on the primary AVR. For all of the height channels, speaker wire will be attached only to the secondary AVRs.
The pre-outs for the Top Front Left and Top Rear Left channels will go into the Right and Left stereo inputs on AVR 2.
(Video) Trinnov Altitude Processors: Breaking the 7.1.4 Surround Barrier
The pre-outs for the Top Front Right and Top Rear Right channels will go into the Left and Right (reversed from AVR 2) stereo inputs on AVR 3.
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If that sounds confusing already, trying to keep it straight while actually connecting the cables and wires can be truly daunting. I strongly recommend drawing a chart that shows what should go where.
When working properly, each of the secondary downstream AVRs should take a stereo signal consisting of part Front and part Rear, and matrix a Middle channel between them using any mono information in common to both (much as ProLogic II would extract a center channel for dialogue in the front of your room between your left and right speakers under normal circumstances). Thus you get six channels of height information from an original four.
(Video) My 2021 7.1.4 Home Theater & Audiophile Stereo System!
That’s the theory, simplified to its most basic elements. Actually getting it to work properly after your connections are made has some added levels of difficulty that I’ll cover soon in Part 2.
Read Part 2
1. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 on Amazon|Raalmak
2. 747 DEMO DOLBY ATMOS 7.1.4
3. Dolby Atmos Object Demo on 7.1.4 Speakers - 360 Spatial Audio
4. The 5 best Dolby Atmos Movie Scenes to Test your System
5. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with 8 Wireless Subwoofer
6. New Heights in my Atmos Studio (Thanks Billie)
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Dolby Atmos is the future of music and sound. It's providing an immersive and engaging experience for music listeners and musicians alike. As this technology continues to evolve, we can expect even more innovations that will revolutionize the way we experience music.What is the difference between 7.1 and 9.1 Atmos? ›
A 7.1 system adds left and right rear surround speakers. A 9.1-channel system adds front height speakers to take advantage of Dolby Pro Logic® IIz, which derives height information from the signal. Dolby Atmos layouts add height speakers to the traditional 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups.Which is better Dolby 7.1 or Atmos enabled? ›
The sound is deeper and more precise with Dolby Atmos than with conventional Surround 7.1 systems due to the addition of overhead sound and superior calibration software. Developed by Dolby Laboratories, Dolby Atmos is a surround sound system.What is the highest Dolby Atmos? ›
The LG S95QR is LG's flagship Dolby Atmos soundbar for 2022, boasting a massive 17 drivers in a 9.1.5 configuration; it's a multi-speaker package comprising a primary soundbar, wireless subwoofer and two wireless rear speakers.Is anything better than Dolby Atmos? ›
The higher the bit rate, the better. You'd think that Dolby Atmos, being the more widely known brand name, would be the one with the higher bit rate. However, it's DTS:X has the higher bit rate. Dolby Atmos delivers a slower bit rate.Did Netflix stop Dolby Atmos? ›
You can currently experience Dolby Atmos with select Blu-rays and through an array of streaming platforms ... and that includes Netflix.Does Dolby Atmos improve music quality? ›
' Dolby Atmos is an improvement on what came before and a leap forward from surround sound. It's ultimately designed to put you in the center of it all when watching movies or listening to music to give you the most immersive sound possible.Is Dolby Atmos the highest quality? ›
Both DTS and Dolby Atmos are top of the line sound systems that are made to get the most out of your home theater with surround sound. DTS does offer a higher sound bitrate, but the two are identical.Is there a 9.1 surround sound? ›
The 9.1. home theater surround system is a ten-channel surround sound system that includes nine speakers and a subwoofer. In addition to the components included in the 7.1 home theater surround system, the 9.1 surround sound also includes two front height speakers.
But, most people will want to use Atmos with a surround sound layout, so the most common format for a small system would be 5.1. 2. However, these are the minimum requirements, and for the best 3D effect, Dolby recommends installing at least four height speakers. An Atmos speaker layout can be up to a maximum of 24.1.Do you need HDMI 2.1 for Dolby Atmos? ›
You're in luck — all you need is a single HDMI cable to connect your TV and soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos (HDMI 2.0 for ARC should do the trick while HDMI 2.1 is necessary for eARC setups). This is the simplest option and will send audio directly from your TV to your soundbar.Which is better DTS or Dolby Atmos? ›
The differences between the two are minimal but the experience could vary depending on the devices that the user owns. Dolby Atmos requires additional speakers for a complete experience while DTS:X does not. That does not mean that DTS can revive an old audio system or make very cheap headphones sound much better.How do I test my Dolby Atmos? ›
Here are the best ways to test if you're getting Dolby Atmos. Play a Dolby Atmos movie or video. Throw on a video or movie that you know supports Dolby Atmos, and choose a scene with many objects flying around. Atmos is working if you can detect individual items moving around independently of the main channels.What is the difference between true Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec with support for up to 7.1 audio channels and is used with Blu-ray Discs. No major streaming platforms use it. Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology that allows sounds to be placed anywhere in a 3D environment.What is the highest Dolby sound quality? ›
True to the artist's vision, Dolby True HD delivers the best sound possible for movies, music, and TV shows with lossless audio.
The difference between the two systems is that the Dolby Digital Plus allows speakers to be placed vertically and horizontally. On the other hand, Dolby Atmos only supports the horizontal placement of speakers. The setup of Dolby Digital Plus usually ranges from 2.0 to 7.1 channels.Is DTS obsolete? ›
It set the standard as the first two-antenna transceiver in 1997. However, it has one the shortest ranges of the digital beacons and many of the newer digital beacons have easier to use controls. The DTS was finally retired (well, except for sales to the military) in 2018.Who is Google Dolby Atmos competitor? ›
One of Atmos's prominent competitors is Sony's 360 Reality Audio, but another may be on the way… from Google. Tech site Protocol reported that Google is developing two new 'open media' formats for 3D audio and HDR video under the working title of 'Project Caviar'.Does Dolby Atmos sound better than lossless? ›
Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology, while lossless means that track was compressed without any data loss - tracks have higher bitrate, so they should sound better on supported devices than standard AAC, MP3 or any other tracks with lossy compression I guess.
One solution is to install speakers overhead. Most conventional overhead speakers with wide dispersion characteristics will work in a Dolby Atmos home theater. Dolby Atmos audio is mixed using discrete, full-range audio objects that may move around anywhere in three-dimensional space.Is Amazon Prime Dolby Atmos? ›
Amazon Prime Video offers Dolby Atmos as part of its standard subscription. To fully experience Dolby Atmos, you need to first make sure you are watching a series created in the audio format. Be sure to look for the Dolby Atmos badge on the title pages of your favourite series.Is Netflix Atmos true Atmos? ›
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.What are the best Dolby Atmos shows? ›
Popular series in Dolby Atmos include House of the Dragon, Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, Ted Lasso, She Hulk: Attorney for Hire, Formula 1: Drive to Survive,and Stranger Things — to name just a few. You can find something just right for any mood: from comedy or horror to documentaries and action films.Is Dolby Atmos always lossless? ›
Dolby Atmos averages around 6,000 kbps when a 48kHz sampling rate is used. But Atmos can be encoded losslessly at up to 24-bit/192kHz, which results in bit rates that can soar as high as 18,000 kbps.What bit depth is Dolby Atmos? ›
The Dolby TrueHD audio codec delivers Dolby Atmos in its highest resolution and quality (24-bit 96kHz), resulting in an authentic Dolby Atmos experience, delivered as intended by movie directors, where listeners will be able to hear object-based audio and overhead effects through positional metadata.Does Dolby Atmos make music quieter? ›
Like, it's a night/day difference in terms of max volume compared to standard. As soon as I enable Atmos, songs get so much quieter. Switch it off, and you can hear “real” full volume again. is a perfect example of this.Why does Dolby Atmos sound so good? ›
The defining feature of Dolby Atmos is its configuration of audio objects. Sounds are no longer limited to their respective channels. Since Atmos' introduction, audio is interpreted and recreated as objects. Think of each sound as a floating orb in space: it's not limited to vertical or horizontal movement.How many channels is Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos captures the director's intent and brings it intact to any theatre of any size and configuration, from 5.1 and 7.1 up to 64 channels. It ensures that the audience experience is always the best possible for your specific playback environment.What was the first Dolby Atmos movie? ›
Tomorrowland is the first film to use both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos.
An expensive 5.1 surround system will likely beat a cheap 7.1 system when it comes to sound quality. Secondly, you need to factor in the size of your room. The thing about having directional audio is that speakers need a bit of space between them, otherwise you actually make the sound worse by muddying the sources.What is the newest type of surround sound? ›
Dolby Atmos is the latest generation of Dolby Digital. Instead of speaker-based sound, Dolby Atmos is object-based.Does anyone use surround sound anymore? ›
Now, in 2014, multichannel home theater sound is on the wane; today's buyers are opting for single-speaker sound bars in ever increasing numbers. Multichannel sound at home is fading fast, and multichannel over headphones never took hold. The future of home surround for music and movies looks bleak.What is the best room size for Dolby Atmos? ›
Experts estimate the optimal Atmos mix room is about 18 x 21-feet with a ten-foot-high ceiling. The absolute smallest is 10 x 11.5-feet with at least an eight-foot-high ceiling. These space specifications are estimated for optimal speaker configuration and sound dispersion.How far away should Dolby Atmos speaker be? ›
In most standard Dolby Atmos setups, listener level is set at 3.9 feet, or 1.2 meters. For some users, space constraints prevent the rear and front speakers from being placed at the same height.How loud should Dolby Atmos be? ›
The integrated Dolby Atmos loudness measurement should be -18 LKFS or less. The True peak level should be -1 dBTP or less for the Dolby Atmos loudness measurement.Can eARC pass Dolby Atmos? ›
As a result, with an eARC channel, you can enjoy the depth of movie-theatre-quality surround sound via formats such as DTS:X and DOLBY ATMOS. Due to the limitations of regular ARC, only eARC can currently process these formats.Can I get Dolby Atmos without eARC? ›
Connecting to a TV compatible with HDMI (ARC) which supports Dolby Atmos (TV does not support eARC) Even if the TV does not support eARC, some TVs with ARC support can output Dolby Atmos format.Does HDMI cable affect Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos sound can be transmitted through any HDMI cable, including HDMI 2.0. However, you also need to be sure that all devices involved, such as the TV, are capable of delivering Atmos. For equipment that can handle HDMI eARC, HDMI 2.1 cables are recommended, but HDMI 2.0 cables will work fine.Do I need a 4k TV for Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos can be used with any TV as long as you have the correct speakers. For surround sound users, you already have a head start. Without surround sound, you need to purchase speakers in order to use Dolby Atmos.
You can also activate Dolby Atmos for Headphones with a one-time purchase in the Dolby Access app, or purchase select partner headsets that include Dolby Atmos for Headphones activation.Why can't I hear Dolby Atmos? ›
Make sure your TV is set up to output Atmos.
Navigate to the sound settings on your TV. (On Samsung TVs, navigate to Settings > Sound > Expert Settings.) Set the audio output to Dolby Digital or Auto. If your TV has a setting for Dolby Atmos compatibility, turn it on.
Over 500 feature films are formatted in Dolby Atmos, perhaps the most sought-after surround sound technology among film and TV lovers.How to get Dolby Atmos for free? ›
You can also use Dolby Atmos for Home Theater for free. To connect your soundbar or home theater with Dolby Atmos support, go to the Products page in the Dolby Access app. Select the Dolby Atmos for home theater option and click on Setup.How many types of Dolby Atmos are there? ›
There are two kinds of Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers: Integrated units that also include traditional, forward-firing speakers. Add-on modules, containing only the upward-firing elements, that sit on top of your current speakers or on a nearby surface.What is Dolby highest version? ›
Dolby TrueHD, developed by Dolby Laboratories, is an advanced lossless audio codec based on Meridian Lossless Packing. Support for the codec was mandatory for HD DVD and is optional for Blu-ray Disc hardware. Dolby TrueHD supports 24-bit bit depths and sample rates up to 192 kHz.What is the difference between Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos Plus? ›
The difference between the two systems is that the Dolby Digital Plus allows speakers to be placed vertically and horizontally. On the other hand, Dolby Atmos only supports the horizontal placement of speakers. The setup of Dolby Digital Plus usually ranges from 2.0 to 7.1 channels.What is Dolby Atmos vs True Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec with support for up to 7.1 audio channels and is used with Blu-ray Discs. No major streaming platforms use it. Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology that allows sounds to be placed anywhere in a 3D environment.Do I need eARC for Dolby Atmos? ›
Is eARC Required for Dolby Atmos? No, eARC is not required for Dolby Atmos to work. Dolby Atmos can work with regular HDMI ARC through the Dolby Digital Plus audio codec.What competes with Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Laboratories's competitors and similar companies include IMAX, Ballantyne Strong, DTS, Analog Devices, Xperi and Cirrus Logic. Dolby Laboratories is a company specializing in audio noise reduction and audio encoding/compression.
Dolby Atmos® is the latest development in realistic cinema sound.Which is best Dolby Audio or Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos is the latest and greatest in surround sound technology from Dolby Labs. It incorporates height channels to the traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround sound setup to create truly immersive 3D sound.Does Netflix support Dolby Atmos? ›
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.Is eARC better than ARC? ›
The main differences between ARC and eARC lie in bandwidth and speed. The enhanced version of the Audio Return Channel has a much higher bandwidth than its predecessor. Bandwidth represents the range of frequencies or amount of data that is being transferred at a time.What is the bitrate of Dolby Atmos? ›
Check it out here! The Dolby TrueHD audio codec delivers Dolby Atmos in its highest resolution and quality (24-bit 96kHz), resulting in an authentic Dolby Atmos experience, delivered as intended by movie directors, where listeners will be able to hear object-based audio and overhead effects through positional metadata.How do I get the best out of Dolby Atmos? ›
To get the best Atmos experience with your TV, you should send the audio output to a soundbar or AV receiver. For this, you will need an HDMI ARC connection and Dolby Digital Plus audio support.Why would I want Dolby Atmos? ›
The benefit of Dolby Atmos in a home theater is its versatility. Dolby Atmos can be played back on virtually any speaker configuration—it maxes out at 34 speakers though. Again, the more speakers you have, the more precise each audio object's placement.Can you tell the difference with Atmos? ›
How does Atmos compare to surround sound? The biggest difference between Dolby Atmos and traditional surround sound is the use of channels. Audio over conventional surround sound is mostly referred to as 5.1 (five speakers, one subwoofer) or 7.1 (seven speakers, one subwoofer) channels.