The days of approaching cinema and television viewing as solely visual experiences are over. Nowadays, we crave something more profound; we crave something which will place us within the action, rather than simply leaving us to observe on a flat screen.

This is the ethos behind Dolby Atmos. Designed as a means of revolutionising and redefining the experience enjoyed by the audience, Dolby Atmos is ushering in a whole new era of high quality audio/visual viewing.

But how does this work in practice?

Well, audio has just become a whole lot more dynamic. With previous incarnations of surround sound systems - including those produced by Dolby or by other manufacturers - the sound was delivered via several channels, giving a limited illusion of immersion into the action, but falling somewhat short of a truly thrilling, multi-dimensional experience.

With Dolby Atmos, these channels are eliminated. Instead, the sound is moved all around you. A three dimensional envelope of sound is created, with you at the centre. As the action unfolds, the system places the audio in precise locations within this 3D envelope, including high overhead to give you an accurate perception of height and depth, and securing a truly enthralling viewing session for audience members of all ages.

But the Dolby Atmos effect is not limited to creating dynamic sound structures to augment the viewing experience. One of the key aspects of this innovative system is the clarity and definition of its sound rendering. From the crystalline fragility of snowflakes falling on a frozen landscape, to the scintillating thrills of a high octane car chase, Atmos is able to provide a satisfying array of sounds which do justice to the action on the screen.

This is the future of viewing; this is the beginning of a world in which as much care and attention is given to the detail and finesse of the audio as to the visuals on the screen. Dolby aim was to create an emotional connection between the viewer and the visual content they are engaged with, and the Dolby Atmos system accomplishes this with applomb.

How is All of this Achieved?

Such an immersive effect cannot come out of nothing. Even though, at times, the sound may feel as if it is borne on the very air which surrounds you in the room, your Dolby Atmos experience must be supported by the right hardware.

This can be delivered in several ways. A conventional home theatre system can be utilised to achieve the high levels of dynamism and clarity provided by Dolby Atmos, if the system is calibrated in the right way. We will discuss the optimal configuration and set up for your Dolby-compatible home theatre system later in this article.

Another method is to augment the performance of your surround sound system via a Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar. The advantage of this is that the dynamic programming of the Atmos system enables the precision placement and delivery of the sound around the three dimensional space without needing to rely on excessive numbers of individual speakers.

This results in a far more neat and tidy system, as the sound is delivered via a single sound bar placed beneath the screen of your home cinema system. A sleek and streamlined system is achieved with no compromise on sound quality.

Setting up your Dolby Atmos system

Soundbar Option

If you have selected the Dolby Atmos soundbar option, you will be able to achieve a high level of sound quality and dynamism using soundbar alone. Set up for this kind of system configuration is simple; just place the Dolby Atmos soundbar in a central location beneath your screen and unlock impressive, three dimensional sound.

This can be augmented, however, with the addition of two wireless speakers at the rear of your viewing room. To gain the optimal benefit from these wireless speakers, place each one just behind the back corners of your sofa or viewing chair, at a 45 degree angle to the back of the sofa and the screen. The speakers should be around head height if you are sitting down, and will create a more immersive and enthralling sonic atmosphere as you watch.

5.1.4 Hybrid Overhead / Dolby Atmos Option

When arranging a surround sound set-up, you will notice that each configuration carries a three digit number. The first of these numbers refers to the number of surround sound speakers which are included in the configuration (in this case five), the second refers to the number of powered subwoofers which can be connected (one in this case), and the third refers to the number of overhead or Dolby Atmos speakers which can be connected, which, of course, is four within this configuration.

In this configuration, place the centre speaker beneath the screen, and the surround sound speakers on each side of the screen, angled towards the centre of your seating position. Following this, place the overhead or Dolby Atmos enabled speakers on the ceiling, diagonally forward and left, and diagonally forward and right, of your seating position. The Dolby Atmos enabled speakers are positioned behind the right and left corners of your sofa or chair. The distance between them should be slightly greater than the distance between the two overhead speakers.

doby atmos 5.1.4

7.1.2 Dolby Atmos Enabled Speaker Option

If you decide on this option for your Dolby Atmos experience, you will be able to connect seven surround sound speakers, one powered subwoofer, and two Dolby Atmos enabled speakers. Place the centre speaker beneath the screen, directly opposite your seating position.

dolby atmos 7.1.2

Place surround sound speakers directly behind the right and left corners of your seating position, in line with the corners of the screen, then place speakers directly to the right and left of your seating position.

The Dolby Atmos enabled speakers should sit at the left and right edges of the screen, angled directly towards your seating position. This means that all the placed speakers should be facing you, ensuring that you remain at the convergence of several different dimensions of sound, making for an incredible visual and auditory experience for the audience.

For more information on the best Dolby Atmos set-up configuration for you, or to learn more about the how Atmos could transform your viewing experience, get in touch with our team today.