Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4 - Part 1 (2023) (2023)

A little over a year ago, I began experimenting with ways to extend my Dolby Atmos surround sound system beyond the 7.1.4 limitations of today's consumer hardware. My constant quest to get the most out of Atmos in my home has prompted me to make some extra improvements lately. These days my home theater system is so insanely complex that I actually have to use three A/V receivers simultaneously to drive all my speakers.

For most home theater systems, 7.1.4 sound channels are sufficient. While the Atmos format (like its competitor, DTS:X) can support additional speakers, there isn't much consumer demand or pressure from manufacturers to do so. Currently only high-end boutique products like the $37,000 modelTrinnov Height 32decodes more than 11 channels simultaneously.

However, for some of us, the four-channel height limit isn't enough to fill the upper part of the room with sound. My own home theater is one long room with plenty of space behind my seats. This, combined with the low ceiling, makes it difficult for just four speakers (two front and two rear) to reproduce overhead sound convincingly. This problem is compounded by the fact that the places I installed the speakers when I was building my home theater (before I even thought about surround sound) weren't ideal for the Atmos. These speakers are now stuck with wiring through the walls and ceiling and I can't move them without redecorating the room. It's just out of the question.

The best solution is to place extra speakers in the middle between the other height channels (top middle position). Unfortunately, the asking price for this Trinnov processor is ridiculously out of my budget. I had to find a way to manipulate a similar effect at a fraction of the cost.

(Video) Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4: Where's the Next Step?

First attempt

Iwrote an article last yearI explained how I built a complicated system (jokingly called "Zatmos"), using a second A/V receiver to connect additional channels to my ceiling. I recommend that you read this article to understand the basic concept of how such a thing is possible.

Even then, I wasn't the only one experimenting with this, and I knew my Zatmos system wasn't as perfect as I'd like it to be.Forum ACP, a member named Scott Simonian took it even further by using a totalthree AV receiversin unison to create a 7.1.6 setup (affectionately known as "Scatmos"), which is more accurate to the intent of the original Dolby Atmos audio mixers.

(Video) Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4 - Where to next?

For a while I decided not to go that far. The complexity of installing, connecting and configuring three A/V receivers seemed excessive to me. I felt like the results I got with the Zatmos were good enough to get the most out of it, and I had a bit of selfish pride when I figured out a way to do it with just one extra receiver instead of two.

However, in recent months my attitude has changed and I've become less happy with the Zatmos setup. I finally knew that if I was going to do this, I had to do it right.

(Video) LG's New 7.1.4 Soundbar 770W with Dolby Atmos and DTS X - LG SoundBar SN11RG REVIEW

Go Full Scatmos

The silly nicknames Zatmos and Scatmos can be grouped more formally under the heading "Dolby Atmos Extended". I want to clarify here that I did not develop the Scatmos process. Credit for this goes to Scott Simonian and others on the AVSForum who helped him figure it out. With your permission I try to explain it here.

While ridiculously complicated to set up, one of the benefits of these experiments is that they are relatively inexpensive to put together. While your primary A/V receiver should be a Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) model capable of decoding 7.1.4 channels of audio from a Blu-ray or UHD surround sound track, additional receivers don't have to be as fancy to be. . Any receiver that has at least Dolby ProLogic II processing will work. (If you're using multiple secondary receivers, I recommend they be identical.)

With a little patience while checking the for sale ads on my local Craigslist, I was able to pick up a pair of used Marantz SR4400's for less than $100 each. This is a cheap entry level (or close to) 2003 Dolby Digital/DTS model. It's so simple it doesn't even have an on-screen menu system. I have to set it up with just the front panel display. The receiver does not have HDMI and does not support lossless Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio signals, but that is not necessary. All you need is a pair of stereo analog inputs (which every receiver has) and a ProLogic II.

Just finding room for another A/V receiver in my system turned out to be much more difficult than I wanted. Since I didn't have enough room for my main gear, I had to remove all my components, disassemble the rack, rearrange the levels, put most of the gear back in and plug it back in. Then I had to do the same for the second shelf to add a level. My Blu-ray and HD DVD players, which used to be on the main shelf, have been moved to the second so I can keep all my audio equipment together where the speaker wire goes. That in itself was a huge pain.

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With that done, here's the basic idea from Scatmos: You want to mount six ceiling speakers in the Top Front, Top Mid, and Top Rear positions. (The sketch below is not my personal speaker design, but I drew it like this to show how it works.)shoulddone.) Your main A/V receiver will be set to decode up to 7.1.4 channels, set to top front and top rear.

All four height channels should be routed to the analog preamp connections on the main AVR. Do not connect speaker cables to these channels on the main AVR. For all height channels, the speaker cable is connected only to the additional AVRs.

The preamp outputs for the top left and rear left channels connect to the AVR 2's stereo left and right inputs.

(Video) Trinnov Altitude Processors: Breaking the Envelope Barrier 7.1.4

The preamp outputs for the top right front and right rear channels are connected to the stereo left and right inputs (inverted from the AVR 2) on the AVR 3.

If that sounds confusing, trying to keep things tidy when connecting cables can be very daunting. I highly recommend drawing a chart that shows what should go where.

If they work properly, each of the AVR's subs in the downstream channel should take a stereo signal consisting of the front and rear channels and create a center channel between them, using the monaural information common to both (much like the ProLogic II would take the center channel). channel for dialogue). front of the room between the left and right speakers under normal conditions). This gives you six channels of height information from the four originals.

(Video) My 2021 7.1.4 Audiophile Stereo and Home Theater System!

This is theory, simplified to its most basic elements. To make it work properly after making the connections requires a few extra difficulty settings, which I'll cover in Part 2 soon.

Read part 2

1. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 i Amazon|Raalmak

2. 747 DOLBY ATMOS DEMO 7.1.4

3. Demo van Dolby Atmos Object op 7.1.4 speakers - Spatial Audio 360

4. Top 5 Dolby Atmos movie scenes to test your system

5. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4ch 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with 8 Wireless Subwoofers

6. New Heights in My Atmos Studio (Courtesy of Billie)


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Are Atmos modules worth it? ›

Dolby Atmos is worth it if you can afford it. If upgrading to Atmos from a 5.1 surround sound system, Atmos will sound fuller. And a jump from a relatively archaic audio setup to Atmos would be game-changing. Atmos's three-dimensional, 360-degree audio experience is akin to the audio you listen to in movie theaters.

How do I pass Dolby Atmos? ›

If you want to transmit Dolby Atmos from your TV to your AV receiver or soundbar, your TV must be equipped with at least HDMI ARC. As we mentioned above, HDMI ARC works with Dolby Atmos/Dolby Digital Plus, but if your TV is equipped with the newer HDMI eARC standard, it will also work with Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD.

Which is better Dolby 7.1 or Atmos enabled? ›

Expert-Verified Answer. 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.

How many speakers do you need to mix in Atmos? ›

4 speaker layout for Atmos music mixing, and some labels will insist on this as a minimum. This numbering convention denotes an array with seven speakers in the base or horizontal plane, at ear height, plus a subwoofer for the LFE channel, and four overhead 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.

Does Dolby Atmos actually sound better? ›

Does Dolby Atmos Really Make a Difference? Dolby Atmos really makes a difference as it brings a higher sound quality and makes it seem like the sound is coming from all directions. It is the benchmark for theaters, so it makes a huge difference to your home setup.

What is the best way to test Dolby Atmos sound? ›

But of course, the one sure fire way to confirm Dolby Atmos is working on your soundbar is to use the best tools you have — your ears. From a surround sound perspective, if you're getting Atmos you should be able to detect sounds as they appear to move from one area of the room to another.

Is eARC necessary 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.

Should I use PCM or passthrough? ›

In the discussion PCM vs Passthrough, we can determine that Passthrough technology is better than PCM regarding sound quality and ease of use and is preferred in home theater landscape arrangements. Nevertheless, PCM technology is better at handling multiple audio channels and converting analog sound to digital.

Do you need 7 speakers for Dolby Atmos? ›

While two Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, modules, or overhead speakers will deliver a compelling experience, we recommend using four if possible. This will deliver more precisely located and realistic overhead sounds.

Is there a Dolby Atmos app? ›

Enable Dolby Vision or Dolby Atmos by downloading the Dolby Access app and connecting an enabled TV, soundbar, home theater, or monitor to your platform device via HDMI.

Which is better Dolby Atmos or Laser Atmos? ›

IMAX with laser vs Dolby Cinema is just a difference between the screen size and audio plus visual quality. IMAX with laser has a much bigger screen compared to Dolby Cinema, but Dolby comes out on top with crisper images, higher resolution and more impressive audio.

What is the best setup for Dolby Atmos? ›

The overhead speakers should be at a height between two and three times the vertical position of the listener-level speakers. The angle of elevation from the listening position (to the front and rear) overhead speakers in a 7.1. 4 reference layout should be 45 degrees.

What is the best size room 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.

Can I use regular speakers for Dolby Atmos? ›

You can use any speaker for Dolby Atmos, provided you have a sufficient number of them for the full surround sound setup and a compatible AV receiver. Also, you will need elevated or ceiling speakers at an appropriate height and adequately aligned to experience the intended 3D effect of Dolby Atmos.

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.

What is the minimum speakers for Atmos? ›

We recommend installing four Dolby Atmos enabled speakers whenever possible. The use of four speakers will make the placement of overhead sounds more accurate, and you'll get more precise, realistic sounds when an object, such as a helicopter, passes overhead.

Can you tell a difference in Dolby 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.

Does Dolby Atmos sound better than stereo? ›

A standard stereo system will pan the sound from left to right as it passes the character, but can't emulate aerial sounds. Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, can do so. In fact, you don't even need multiple speaker outputs, many capable soundbars can recreate this overhead sound so long as its properly setup.

Can you get Dolby Atmos through ARC? ›

Most Dolby Atmos audio can be played through HDMI-ARC using the Dolby Digital Plus codec. HDMI-eARC is required to play lossless Dolby Atmos audio using the Dolby TrueHD codec.

Does HBO Max support Dolby Atmos? ›

Audio for shows and movies on Max is available in stereo, 5.1 surround sound, or Dolby Atmos. Max automatically plays the highest quality audio available for your device and subscription plan.

Which Netflix Dolby Atmos? ›

The Right Subscription Plan

Netflix hosts a few different subscription plans for its users. You'll need the Premium subscription plan which gives you access to Dolby Atmos and Ultra HD (4K) content.

Can you hear the difference between ARC and eARC? ›

If your TV is HDMI eARC enabled, but your AV amp or soundbar is only compatible with HDMI ARC, you'll likely get a sound – but the bandwidth restrictions of ARC will mean you won't be able to experience the high bitrate audio that eARC can provide. So no, it's not backwards-compatible.

Do I need a special HDMI cable 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.

Is Dolby Atmos license worth it? ›

Does Dolby Atmos make a difference on headphones? Yes, Dolby Atmos for Headphones makes a difference, even with only two speakers at its disposal. You get a more expansive soundstage that makes your audio sound dynamic and alive.

Is Atmos worth it for gaming? ›

Dolby Atmos allows sound to be projected precisely into a three-dimensional space, which means, in theory, you get a better experience when it comes to positional audio. This is great for games where audio makes all the difference, like first-person shooters for example.

Do Atmos enabled speakers really work? ›

In our listening tests of Atmos-enabled vs Discrete Speakers, we've noted the Atmos module does compromise the focus of its companion speaker slightly when comparing it to being off. This is particularly more noticeable for music listening. This isn't a problem when using discrete ceiling mounted speakers.

Is Arc Atmos worth it? ›

TechRadar Verdict

The Sonos Arc is an impressive and premium Dolby Atmos experience even without a subwoofer or extra speakers. New soundbars offer even better positional sound effects, but when it comes to dynamic audio that's perfectly clear from a single-box package, it's as good as you can get for the price.

Is Dolby Atmos a 1 time purchase? ›

Download the Dolby Access application from Microsoft Store and install it. Open the app. If you are using Headphones, you can either purchase the access (one time purchase) or start a free trial. For Home Theater the access is free.

Is Dolby Atmos a lifetime license? ›

Yes, it is a one time purchase, you don't have to pay monthly or annually.

What are the limitations of Dolby Atmos? ›

Dolby Atmos In a Nutshell
Dolby Atmos ProsDolby Atmos Cons
Expands surround sound to include overhead effects.Overhead sound cues need to be encoded in the content.
More precise placement of sound objects around the room.Not all content benefits from overhead sound effects.
3 more rows
Jul 1, 2020

How far away should Atmos enabled speakers be? ›

Avoid placing the Dolby Atmos enabled speakers higher than one-half the height of your wall. To avoid an unwanted proximity effect, make sure the speakers are at least 3 feet (0.9 meter) away from listening positions, ideally 5 feet (1.5 meters) or more.

Can a soundbar really do Atmos? ›

Many companies have tried making a compact, affordable soundbar that can also play Atmos, but arguably only one company has so far succeeded. The Bose Smart Soundbar 600 offers dedicated height speakers in a compact soundbar, and its sound quality is top notch.

How loud should Atmos speakers be? ›

In a properly calibrated room at 5.1/7.1, the surrounds are down 3dB, so they should be 82dB, not 85dB. When you're calibrating an Atmos room, everything is at 85dB, so you're already hearing the surround speakers 3dB louder than they should be (when listening to 5.1/7.1 content).

Do I need Arc or eARC for Dolby Atmos? ›

Most Dolby Atmos audio can be played through HDMI-ARC using the Dolby Digital Plus codec. HDMI-eARC is required to play lossless Dolby Atmos audio using the Dolby TrueHD codec.

Which is better Dolby Atmos beam or Arc? ›

The significant difference between them is that the Arc has physical upfiring units to create the sensation of Dolby Atmos sound, where the Beam Gen 2 achieves this through virtual processing. Both speakers sound very good and consistent with movie/music.

Can you get Dolby Atmos without Arc? ›

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.


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