A Guide to Dolby Atmos in the Home

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Steve Withers, Jul 2, 2014.

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    1. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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    2. Wookii

      Wookii
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      Excellent article Steve - do you have any more information on:

      "Dolby's Atmos technology to automatically adapt any channel-based signal to use the full capabilities of your new system"

      I take it this is an upmixing tech within Atmos, but I have not seen any other details on this so far?
       
    3. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Your assumption is correct but unfortunately I don't currently have any more information on how exactly the up mixing will work. I'm also very keen to find out exactly how the Atmos track is encoded with a Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus bitstream but Dolby haven't released any more details yet. When I found out more I'll report back here or, if someone else finds anything out, please add a link to this thread.
       
    4. HugoFJH

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      I appreciate these are the basics (and a very good article too), and due to ease of installation etc types of configurations are limited currently - however I was kind of expecting a full line of speakers on the roof connecting front speakers to back as per the cinema version of Atmos (unless Im thinking of the cinema based competitor to Atmos) - instead of the four on the roof (in the usual square/surround positions) above the main speakers.

      Practicality shouldnt be any different, and with dipoles they should fire to the left and right equally....(Im probably missing something significant however lol)

      edit - and has 6.1 gone slightly out of fashion (on a subnote)
       
    5. DarenD

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      Can just see my wife trying to blend 32 speakers into the room so nobody notices them. She kicked off when I got the 5.1 lol
       
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    6. Cliff

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      I am sure I am not the only one that tries to do AV upgrades while the wife is out.
      I remember putting in a motorised KEF centre speaker in the ceiling when she went out shopping. I calculated on finishing the job in two hours. But she came back early only to find power tools, wires, dust and a big hole in the ceiling!
      She said "so this is what you get up to while I'm out!"
      It was like being caught with another women!
       
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    7. pavloPL

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      Atmos sounds good but I am affraid it won't be popular because ceiling speakers are the most problematic to install and hide cables. I think it will find usage in dedicated cinema rooms but in living rooms probably won't. I personaly think about it but put decision away in time when I will plan redecoration.
       
    8. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      As I mention in the article, the initial configurations for AV receivers are limited to four overhead speakers but if you have the room and the money, you can go for something like the 32-channel Trinnov Audio Altitude 32, which allows for two rows of five speakers overhead and 22 speakers around the room. So I think Dolby is trying to cover all their bases with Atmos.
       
    9. Dans1210

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      I havent had chance to read the article yet but im creating a new theatre soon, is it best to use direct firing speakers on the side surrounds if going for atmos rather than dipoles?
       
    10. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Given that Atmos is more about moving objects around a three dimensional space and less about channels, I would definitely use direct firing speakers throughout the entire system.
       
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    11. Pecker

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      You know, I came into home cinema with Dolby Pro-Logic, then Dolby Digital/dts, then 6.1, 7.1, but I think this is where I tune out, barring a lottery win.

      I suspect the whole 'object' thing is a bit smoke & mirrors. We already have object-based sound. A sound mixer most certainly isn't limited to just using the position of 7 speakers in a 7.1 speaker set up. A sound played (for example) at equal volumes in both your centre and front left speakers should sound like it's coming from half way between the two.

      As for 'height' speakers, it's well documented that human's hearing accuracy is mainly on a lateral, horizontal plain, with far less sensitivity to vertical placement.

      I'm not saying there will be no upgrade. But it certainly looks like shelling out a lot of money for what will be a subtle improvement, at best.

      Buying a new amp (minimum £1,400) and at least two new speakers. We're genuinely looking at £2k just as a starting point.

      And come on, we all know what we're like. Anyone 'not happy' enough with 7.1 to crave an upgrade to Atmos is going to feel they have less than they could unless they buy at least 4 ceiling speakers and an extra sub.

      I've never sat in a film and thought 'blimey, this sound lacks height'.

      Finally, and this is just me being old I suppose, I'm enjoying fewer and fewer new films, and the ones I am enjoying are less likely to have a massive sonic impact.

      I'm sure I'll enjoy Gravity when I finally get round to seeing it, but I'm more of a Grand Budapest Hotel fan myself.

      Best soundtrack I've heard on an action film for years was Skyfall. Guess what - not even 7.1, just vanilla 5.1.

      I know, I know...

      [​IMG]

      Steve W
       
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    12. stevos

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      I could never get 7.1 to work in my UK homes, so far every time I have moved homes the couch has to be against the back wall, leaving no room for speakers behind the listening position.

      5.1.2 or 5.1.4 could in theory work in a UK home, even with sitting position against the wall, the question is will it really sound any better. Guess we will see.
       
    13. Pharmacy Mart

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      Loving the look of the new Pioneer Atmos enabled speaker system.

      Only problem as far as I can see, as I have a channelled in 7.1 system at the moment is I can't see if these new speakers would require extra cable runs to the front and rear speakers, as that would be a re plastering job.

      Can't see any other way it would work though?

      can anyone confirm?

      Thanks
       
    14. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Since the upward firing drivers would require additional amplification, you'll almost certainly have to run cables to them.
       
    15. stevos

      stevos
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      How do in ceiling speakers work, are they effectively a pair of standmounters pointing directly downwards, or can you angle them towards the listening position.

      If they are just producing sound directly downwards from above the fronts, I struggle to see how much an impact it would make. Height speakers i can semi understand but ceiling seem strange.
       
    16. Wookii

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      Personally I think having them firing straight at the MLP is going to be preferable:

      Something like this would be ideal!:

      C763L - LCR Specialty In-Ceiling Loudspeaker | Revel
       
    17. witchdrash

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      I'm out for the moment, I'm looking to replace my speakers, and adding a couple of extra speakers in with the set I'm looking at would be more than I could justify. I also have no real desire to replace my amp, but going forward this would definitely be interesting, as the room simply doesn't have the space for a 7.1 set up, 5.1 is the best I can work with, but I could easily add a couple of in ceiling speakers without it being too much of a chore, especially as the joists in the ceiling run in the right way, and the back wall, which all the equipment is on has cupboards I can route the cables up behind.
       
    18. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      I'm going to fire the front ceiling speakers towards the MLP and the rear ceiling speakers will be just behind and firing down at a slight angle.
       
    19. stevos

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      Do we have any hints on whether this is how they intend to work or not?

      I can't work out from the pictures of the Ravel's posted above, if you can adjust the angle once installed or not.
       
    20. Steve Withers

      Steve Withers
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      Before I install my overhead speakers I'll ask Dolby for guidance and let you know.
       
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    21. stevos

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      Thanks

      Lets hope we don't go through similar issues as we had at the start of home theatre, starting with upright front channel and directional surrounds, ending up with fronts effectively on their sides and bi/di-poles. Drilling holes in the ceiling for one set of speakers is probably doable, trying to cover up mistakes because the 'standard' changes could make some seriously interesting looking ceilings.
       
    22. Jules

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      As has already been mentioned, sound designers can place sounds far more precisely in a traditional 5.1/7.1 system than is being made out in the Atmos promotional speak.

      But more importantly, how many of us like to tweak our room layouts from time to time? Move speakers to suit a revised listening position, or simply experiment with speaker positions? That's not going to be feasible with speakers fixed in the ceiling, and the upward firing alternative is a daft compromise that most likely won't work well at all.

      For me, as a long time AV fan, high end system owner, and a casual sound designer/producer for both amateur film and my own music compositions...this sounds like a well planned and executed delivery medium, but nothing more.

      I just can't see it being adopted on any kind of scale in the UK.
      Happy to be proven wrong, but I think we're looking at the audio equivalent of 3D TV but less domestically acceptable.
       
    23. stevos

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      Room redesign was something that occurred to me also, but luckily I am too lazy for that and being single I don't get the constant pester not to be. Plus I have already got a ceiling mount for my projector, so I'm stuffed if I change the room anyway.

      I guess if you did 4 room speakers and if they could be angled post install, you should be ok, no matter how you setup the room other than on a 45degree angle from the original design. 8 speakers and your laughing, but ok now I am being silly :)

      The interesting part of upward firing is whether the medium/highend speaker companies will follow suit. I am not overly keen on replacing my GR10's but could be an option if MA did a new gold range with upwards firing speakers built in. However, I could see that causing some sonic issues within the cabinet.
       
      Last edited: Jul 4, 2014
    24. Pecker

      Pecker
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      Something struck me earlier this morning.

      Upward firing speakers to bounce the sound off the ceiling so it sounds like the speaker's above you?

      Doesn't that sound suspiciously like the concept behind the soundbar?

      Hardly the great leap forward, is it.

      That's maybe being picky, as it is admittedly not the ideal set up, but nonetheless I suspect we'll get some buying these who wouldn't be seen dead with a soundbar in their house.

      Steve W
       
    25. stevos

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      I am not expert in sound design, but my logic is it is an easier path to predict.

      Soundbars try to bounce the sound off the walls to try and get it behind you, but realistically furniture, windows and room design gets in the way and the sound ends up bouncing all over the place. In a perfect room my guess they would work well.

      The ceiling in most homes is flat or flat ish, and so you can bounce it up and down knowing for certain where the sound will land, as there should be nothing in the way, the only thing that could be would be the light fitting I guess. How you do the math to work out the angle to get it to land on top of the sitting position is a different question.

      I am not sure how that works with older UK homes with the pimple effect ceilings.
       
    26. Wookii

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      Personally I think the approach is flawed. Firstly sounds will not bounce of a plasterboard surface in a predictable and uniform way - some lower frequencies will be absorbed, others effectively amplified by the resonance of the panel, and some scattered by any texture or flaws on the ceiling making localisation of effects more difficult.

      Then there is the issue that a listener will hear the direct radiated signal from the speaker before the reflected signal, causing smearing of the intelligibility of the sound.

      Then there is the issue of EQ, which relies on measuring the direct signal from a speaker - but here the EQ system will have to disregard any direct radiated off axis signal (which will arrive at the mike first given its shorter path), and look for the reflected signal to apply the EQ filters to - I can't see that the like of Audyssey are going to get good results.

      I can see why Dolby have suggested this set-up, and it is much more likely to be acceptable to the masses than cutting holes in their lounge ceilings, but it is a severely compromised solution for sure. As for sound bars,I would anticipated upward firing Atmos drivers to be appearing in those also in the near future!

      All that said, I still suspect a system with Atmos speakers (reflected off the ceiling or not) is going to sound better and more immersive than a system without.

      Contrary to many of the opinions here, I am very excited by the prospect of the new 3D sound formats - I feel anything which increases the immersion and suspension of disbelief during a movie can only be a good thing. I have a dedicated room, which makes it all a lot easier to implement, but even if I had my old lounge set-up, I'd be happy to carve the ceiling up to get Atmos/Auro in - I suspect once film makers get used to using the new object based mixing systems people are going to be very surprised by how much better Atmos/Auro blu-ray tracks are going to be!
       
    27. stevos

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      I don't think Audyssey is an issue, since surely they need to completely redesign the system anyway to allow for sounds coming from above, not directly at the listening position, I am guessing through a multi-directional mic. If they are going to redesign it, sure they would consider both setups and design it to compensate for the 'bounces' that are arriving before the main sound, I can't see them only designing it for the perfect situation of in ceiling speakers. Then again maybe the current system works, not a clue.

      I haven't heard atmos or any of the other height channel options yet (none available in Italy :( ) but certainly will be interested to see how it sounds and if it really works.

      Will be interesting to hear what the early adopters like Steve, will say.
       
    28. Pecker

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      If I were building a new dedicated cinema room, buying everything from scratch, I'd go for it.

      In-ceiling speakers are small, easy to paint, and hardly obtrusive in a dedicated room.

      But (as has been noted) the concept of Atmos relies on accurate placement, which means bi/di-poles are a non-starter. As I've 4 bi-poles for rears I'd have to buy 4 new mono pole rears and 4 in-ceilings, as well as a new amp.

      It ain't happening.

      For that money I can (and am) invest(ing) in a better projector, which will have a far greater impact on my viewing pleasure.

      Steve W
       
    29. Wookii

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      No, EQ systems for speakers placed in the ceiling would not need to change - the principles of measuring and correcting the frequency and time response as a result if interaction with the room is exactly the same irrespective of speaker position. The mics also are fine as is, as almost all are omni-directional. Current EQ systems can handle ceiling speakers just fine - the problem comes when you are trying to measure the reflected sound, and disregard the direct sound.
       
    30. Wookii

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      Bipoles are fine Steve, di-poles not so much - but that can be easily overcome with a simple switching of the wires on the out of phase drivers.
       

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