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Atmos upgrade

Technot

Established Member
Hi everyone, I have a Yamaha AX1 amp and is getting a little beard but is in perfect condition, I'm interested in the new format Dolby atmos/Dtsx, However I'm not sure wether the step up is worthwhile ? There's probably quite a few of you now experienced the new sound and tell me what you think. I have had a demo but I want to hear from people who actually have it in their homes, thanks for any opinions
 
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Deleted member 24354

Guest
I have a 5.1.2 setup and personally feel that Atmos is over-rated. The source material is limited mostly to 4k BluRays and when it is present, it is OK but adds nowhere near as much dimension as a decent 5.1 setup. Others with a more expansive set-up may have different views, but for me, it was not an acoustic revolution.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
Is it an essential upgrade? No, but Atmos does add additional atmosphere and does better envelop you in the soundtrack when compared to straight 5.1 and 7.1 soundtracks. Not all Atmos soundtracks will however fully exploit what is possible and some titles could have been just as immersive if released without the Atmos option. There are both good and bad examples of Atmos out there, but the good ones do add something extra.

As already noted, if truly wanting to gain access to Atmos then you would need to seriously look into using 4K UHD. If not a display or PJ then at least a UHD player with which to access Atmos soundtracks which are more often only available on the 4K disc release of a title and not always included on the HD Blu-ray disc releases.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I thoroughly enjoy my 5.1.2 and would not revert to a standard 5.1. It has increased the soundstage, especially height at the front and has made movement between front and surround speakers smoother.

It's not so much the Atmos titles, some of them are very lacking in overhead effects but it's the way that the upmixing modes, especially Neural:X, breathes new life into old soundtracks. As long as you don't expect the ceiling to suddenly spring to life and appreciate what Atmos speakers can bring to the party then it is a very worthwhile investment.
 

Steve356

Distinguished Member
I tried front upfiring KEF R50 speakers in my system last year. They did nothing for me at all. In fact, I thought my system sounded worse with them in. I put it down to really needing 4 x in-ceiling speakers to get the benefit. I sold them about 2 weeks after I bought them.

I've seen/heard numerous Atmos and DTS-X demos, some of which have brought about audio immersion benefits and have sometimes been quite impressive. Equally, I've been to some demos where I got the same impression as I heard in my room, i.e. no benefit. Each to their own, but I've still not heard anything that would make me want to bore 4 holes in my ceiling to accommodate Atmos speakers or mount them high up on wall in my lounge.

In our local cinema, I really enjoy Atmos based movie soundtracks, so I can hear the benefits. I just don't think it's all that beneficial in most home environments.

Just my thoughts.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
It should be said that the best way to experience Atmos is via ceiling speakers as opposed to using upward firing or wall mounted height speakers. You can establish an Atmos setup using any of these three options, but ceiling speakers are always the preferrred and preferable option if you can accomodate them.
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
The jury is out on whether in ceiling speakers are better than upfiring speakers for atmos. It depends on the shape and acoustic properties of the room.

Don't tell the Dolby police, but I use some upfiring speakers as my back surrounds, and also some upfiring speakers as my front atmos speakers. Having tested both a 5.1.4 and a 7.1.2 layout with them. I find that I get more exciting audio from the rear upfirers when set as back surrounds than when set as rear dolby atmos.

Native atmos and DTS:X content sounds best, where there are discrete audio mixes for the atmos speakers. But even when using the Dolby Surround and DTS Neural X upmixers, it does add an extra dimension to the audio that is nice to have. I can hear the difference if I switch the upmixing on and off, or switch the power amp on and off that is powering the front atmos speakers. I would miss it if I didn't have it now.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
There are some major issues associated with Atmos Dolby endorsed (enabled) upward firing speakers and their inclusion of HRTF crossover filters. Many audio engineers regard the inclusion of such filters to be detrimental to the audio and it is often said that the only reason for their inclusion is in order to allow Dolby to stick a patent on the tech and create a new revenue stream?


Editorial Note on Dolby Atmos Elevation Speaker Patent
It’s important to note that Dolby has applied for at least six patents relating to the Atmos Elevation speaker technology though none of them have been granted at the time this review has published. There is plenty of prior art for upward firing speakers which makes that portion of their patent rather weak. However, they do have a good case for getting the patent on the associated circuitry and firmware for Atmos.

Are HRTF’s Necessary in Dolby Atmos Elevation Speakers?

Dolby makes some claims about Atmos Elevation speakers being equivalent in performance to discrete ceiling mounted speakers as can be seen in the following pull quotes from their website.

"Dolby Atmos enabled speakers produce slightly diffuse overhead audio that is quite lifelike and, in some cases, preferable to the sound that comes from overhead speakers."

"You’ll hear the same overhead sounds whether you’re using overhead speakers, Dolby Atmos enabled speakers, or a combination."

While this certainly hasn't been our experience via direct comparative listening tests between discrete overhead vs up-firing reflective speakers thus far, it's prudent to do a little objective analysis on the technology behind Atmos Elevation speakers to better understand if equivalency is really possible.

Conclusion
It seems very apparent that the deployment of a HRTF in a loudspeaker crossover is not only problematic but likely not necessary as well. While they are useful in applications like headphones, and sound bars, adding them to an actual discrete external sound source like a loudspeaker playing in a room, and specifically in this case, a Dolby Atmos Elevation speaker module, can in fact impact performance in a negative way. Moreover, this also unnecessarily drives up the complexity of the speaker’s crossover and thus its associated cost. The human ear already has the benefit of its own HRTF customized to each listener. Simply selecting a loudspeaker with narrow and controlled dispersion, along with careful placement relative to the seated area can create the illusion of elevated sound for a narrow listening area, though not as precisely or as consistently as having a discrete sound source located in the position of origination it was intended to mimic.
 
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Slinkywizard

Distinguished Member
I run 7.2.6. Even with 5.1 soundtracks that are 'upmixed' to include all the speakers (DTS: Neural X or Auro 3D) the difference is night and day. Having all those height channels creates a truly cinematic sound that's so incredibly spacious that at times you forget you're in a room at all. My set-up's pretty extreme, though, so can't comment on 5.1.2 – with 7.2.6 you truly get things whooshing past overhead from front to back, diagonally, whatever. More than overhead effects it really opens up the sound-field, though, as I said. I could never go back. But of course I would say that – no one's immune to post-purchase rationalisation.

EDIT: All my Atmos speakers are ceiling mounted, down-firing, and toed toward the main listening positions.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Upfirers are probably a popular option because of circumstance and room design. Many people now live in rented accommodation and drilling holes in the ceiling is not an option, neither maybe drilling into a wall to put them in the height position pointing down. That leaves the upfiring option. The reason I have upfirers is really because the wife didn't want me to put holes in the ceiling, she has, over the last 40 years, witnessed my complete lack of DIY skills. Apart from that because of disability I couldn't even attempt it.

Now you come down to the option of what speakers can be used. I had spare KEF Eggs and tried them on top of my fronts. The tone of the question ''are they staying there?'' was enough to suggest that was another really bad idea.

It was just after the launch of the R50s that I decided to buy a pair. They certainly sounded better than the Eggs as well as looking a damn sight better. They just about passed the wife test.

I now think that the R50s were the right decision for me as well as the room. With the ceiling being just over eight feet I felt it was a tad too low for good dispersion of sound, especially as even then I would be restricted to a 5.1.2.
 

Slinkywizard

Distinguished Member
Upfirers are probably a popular option because of circumstance and room design. Many people now live in rented accommodation and drilling holes in the ceiling is not an option, neither maybe drilling into a wall to put them in the height position pointing down. That leaves the upfiring option. The reason I have upfirers is really because the wife didn't want me to put holes in the ceiling, she has, over the last 40 years, witnessed my complete lack of DIY skills. Apart from that because of disability I couldn't even attempt it.

Now you come down to the option of what speakers can be used. I had spare KEF Eggs and tried them on top of my fronts. The tone of the question ''are they staying there?'' was enough to suggest that was another really bad idea.

It was just after the launch of the R50s that I decided to buy a pair. They certainly sounded better than the Eggs as well as looking a damn sight better. They just about passed the wife test.

I now think that the R50s were the right decision for me as well as the room. With the ceiling being just over eight feet I felt it was a tad too low for good dispersion of sound, especially as even then I would be restricted to a 5.1.2.

This is an expertly crafted post that articulates in clear, unambiguous language why I'm not married.
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
As I said, it depends on the room, as well as the opportunity for invasive drilling interventions.

Very low and totally flat ceilings here, so upfiring are working well for me. For those with higher or vaulted ceilings, they probably wouldn't work so well.
 

Zigourney

Prominent Member
it is worth it...and yes it depends on how the sound engineer has used the height channels for the effects, but even on non atmos movies, I use the dolby and dts neural upmixers to make use of the two ceiling speakers in my lounge, and if I toggle on/off of the ceiling speakers I can tell the difference, for me it is way better in every way with the ceiling speakers on than off. That's my experience of it anyway coming from a satellite speaker set up...I could imagine how good it must sound from better systems and from a properly spaced out 5.1.4 plus atmos set up.
 

andym81

Established Member
I was thinking of adding atmos upfireing speakers, is there a recomended distance from speaker to MLP. I'm sat around 11ft from my fronts and ceiling is 8ft
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I was thinking of adding atmos upfireing speakers, is there a recomended distance from speaker to MLP. I'm sat around 11ft from my fronts and ceiling is 8ft
That more or less depends on the actual speaker and how the sound is dispersed from it. I sit roughly nine feet away from my KEF R50s with an eight foot ceiling at that works for me. If the current position doesn't feel right, you can move forward and perhaps find the sweet spot, then make more of an angle on the module by raising the back slightly to bring it in line with your MLP.
 

navarro67

Established Member
I was thinking of adding atmos upfireing speakers, is there a recomended distance from speaker to MLP. I'm sat around 11ft from my fronts and ceiling is 8ft
I sit 12ft from fronts with a 9ft ceiling, and my upfiring speakers work well, very pleased (as gibbsy I have a pretty amenable ceiling). Doesn't seem to be much content that really stretches to the full potential of atmos but very impressive with dolby demo material. One thing I did do given my seating distance was to play with the angle of the upfiring speakers using the Dolby helicopter demo. For me a slight forward angle worked best (though it has to be said very much a 'fine tuning' than a significant change from flat). I have PSB Imagine XAs.
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
The guidelines offered up by Dolby warn more about not having the upward firing speakers too close to the listener or listeners as opposed to mentioning the distance you should be located away from them. The location of you front left and right and your surrounds determine where you place the upward firing speakers so if they are correctly located then the upward firing speakers would be likewise coorrectly placed. TRy not to locate them less than a metre from your listening position.
 

Slinkywizard

Distinguished Member
Doesn't seem to be much content that really stretches to the full potential of atmos but very impressive with dolby demo material

Hmm. There are literally hundreds of programmes and movies in Atmos between Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and blu-ray/4K blu-ray discs. And for me, most of them offer impressive use of the format. Could it be that with a sound-bouncing set-up, the more subtle aspects of these mixes – the aspects which open up a more spacious sound field, are more subsumed (than they would be with speakers in/on the ceiling), and that the direct overhead effects (helicopters and so on) are the only ones that are really coming through as 'obviously Atmos'?

I only suggest this as my experience is very different to yours, and the obvious culprit is we're doing Atmos two different ways.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Hmm. There are literally hundreds of programmes and movies in Atmos between Netflix, Amazon, iTunes and blu-ray/4K blu-ray discs. And for me, most of them offer impressive use of the format. Could it be that with a sound-bouncing set-up, the more subtle aspects of these mixes – the aspects which open up a more spacious sound field, are more subsumed (than they would be with speakers in/on the ceiling), and that the direct overhead effects (helicopters and so on) are the only ones that are really coming through as 'obviously Atmos'?

I only suggest this as my experience is very different to yours, and the obvious culprit is we're doing Atmos two different ways.
Good point and I agree with your statement. The sound does seem more diffused, perhaps more ambient than ceiling speakers and I really think that upfiring modules are far more suited to Neural:X for upmixing than they are for Dolby Surround.

With Neural I do find that DTS MA 5.1 tracks do get a lot more 'information' in them. The soundfield is really expanded. I often refer to the TV series Black Sails, which already has an really good DTS MA 5.1. The onboard scenes on the pirates' galleons are really enhanced by Neural with sounds coming from all directions including noticeably above. It's the real bubble of sound.

Being a poor pensioner (I'll be around with a begging bowl later) I don't have the luxury of 4K so have to rely on the upmixers for most of my Atmos pleasure.
 

navarro67

Established Member
Hmm. There are literally hundreds of programmes and movies in Atmos
Undoubtedly, though not in question here. My observation was regarding volume of content stretching the full potential of Atmos. You may be correct re: the difference in reception between ceiling or 'bounced', though I've seen plenty of others with ceiling setups observing the same variation in quantity of 'height' content between sources
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
As I interated earlier, there are both good and bad examples of the use of Atmos, but the better ones do add something that you'd not get via a more conventional 5.1 or 7.1 soundtrack. Those mixing the soundtracks do seem to be now getting the hang of Atmos and its intricacies so things can only get better.

The main issue with upward firing as opposed to ceiling mounted speakers are the number of factors that effect the audio and how it is portrayed within your listening space. All audio irrespective of the type of speaker is influenced by the room, but upward firing speakers more so due to the nature of how they work in relation to your ceiling and the ceilings proximity to you and other walls and or objects.
 

Slinkywizard

Distinguished Member
Undoubtedly, though not in question here. My observation was regarding volume of content stretching the full potential of Atmos. You may be correct re: the difference in reception between ceiling or 'bounced', though I've seen plenty of others with ceiling setups observing the same variation in quantity of 'height' content between sources

That was my point: That perception of Atmos content (and whether it stretches the format) correlates to how we experience it. As I said, my experience is very different, with the majority of Atmos content delivering in spades. As you know, Atmos is not a format defined by 'overhead effects', but by three-dimensional presence.
 

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