If you’re in the market for a new home theater or upgrading your current one, you’re almost certainly planning on having surround sound. For years, before the incorporation of Atmos and other overhead speakers, surround sound setups were 5.1 and 7.1 systems. The first number would represent the number of full range speakers, and the second represented the subwoofer. Working alongside your surround speakers and subwoofer(s), Dolby Atmos adds an extra dimension to your audio experience. Operating from ceiling-based speakers, Atmos gives an overhead effect to your audio, enabling you to feel even completely immersed in the middle of the action playing out on screen. In some cases, your Atmos speakers may not operate from the ceiling. Instead, they may be Atmos-enabled speakers aimed towards the ceiling to reflect the sound.
In Atmos-equipped setups, the number format expands. For example, if you have a 5.1 system with four Atmos speakers, it would be classified as a 5.1.4 system, with the last number representing your number of overhead speakers.
Atmos made its debut in June 2012, at a premiere for the Pixar movie Brave. Since then, it’s become used in thousands of movie theaters and spread to home usage. While most media since then has been made with traditional surround sound in mind, the transition to Atmos has become more prevalent in Netflix and other streaming services in recent years.
Other formats using the same concept as Dolby Atmos include DTS-X and Auro 3-D, but as with most things audio, Dolby pioneered the technology. If DTS-X sounds familiar to you, it might be because it is the format used most often by Disney and Marvel films. Ultimately, there’s not a tangible difference between overhead formats. They all use the same audio channels and the sound produced is dependent on your speakers, not the format itself.
Because of its use in streaming and newer Blu-Rays, Atmos and the other overhead formats are here to stay for the foreseeable future. Most devices and smartphones since 2017 come with the capability to record and mix Atmos audio.
Installing in-ceiling speakers as seamlessly as you could ever hope for, Blue Grass Home Entertainment technicians can ensure your theater a top-notch, immersive listening experience without uglying up the ceiling. To see and hear the difference in immersion provided by overhead audio, swing by the BGHE showroom and ask for a demo on one of our in-store systems that incorporate Dolby Atmos.