So what's the deal with Dolby Atmos? Why is it so difficult to get a proper set up that works?

SANAFABICH

Standard Member
So I just got a brand new Samsung 5.1 soundbar that's suppposed to support Dolby Atmos. I did some research before buying, and learned that only TVs supporting eARC are able to passthrough Dolby Atmos or any sort of 5.1 track, so you can only get 2.0 regular PCM. My TV is a 2019 LG, not 4K just 1080p, and it only supports ARC.

Anyway, right out of the box I got 5.1 sound from my TV using ARC (with the Fire TV Stick 4K). So I guess you CAN passthrough 5.1 track using only ARC after all. But I knew it wasn't Dolby Atmos since the display in the soundbar didn't show anything. I knew that was asking too much, plus the sound was already great and 5.1 and I was happy with that.

But the itch was already there, I had to know and see Dolby Atmos on the display. So I connected the Fire TV Stick directly to the soundbar. Still no Atmos. Weird. I do some more research, it turns out Netflix on the Fire TV Stick 4K doesn't support Dolby Atmos. WTF. I fire up Prime Video. No Atmos. Some more research later, turns out Prime Video only does Dolby Atmos if your display is 4K. WTF again.

Tried the Netflix app on my TV: no luck. At this point I just wanted to see the Dolby Atmos logo appear on the soundbar display. I tried mkv demos using my Blu-Ray and TV ports. Audio codec not supported. I kindda expected that one TBH.

Then, I installed the Plex Server on my computer and the Plex app on my TV, and tried playing the MKV demos and FINALLY THE GOD DAMNED DOLBY ATMOS LOGO appeared on the soundbar display. So it appears you CAN get Dolby Atmos only using HDMI ARC, you don't need eARC.

So what exactly is it that makes it so hard for apps or devices to support Dolby Atmos? It seems like all planets have to align for you to get the damn thing right. For now, I'm happy just getting 5.1 sound from the Fire TV Stick and I suppose when I get a 4K display, God willing I'll be able to get Dolby Atmos on Prime Video, but not Netflix. It seems silly really, with a capable device like the Fire TV Stick 4K.
 

-gonzo-

Distinguished Member
What Netflix plan are you on?
For Atmos you need to be on the Premium Ultra HD plan.

 

SANAFABICH

Standard Member
What Netflix plan are you on?
For Atmos you need to be on the Premium Ultra HD plan.
I'm on the UHD plan, but apparently that doesn't make a difference since I'm using the Fire TV Stick 4K. I also have a Roku Stick+, but guess what... Netflix doesn't support DA on that platform either.
 

chopples

Distinguished Member
Hi mate

appreciate there is some frustration here, and I agree its annoying that politics and licensing prevents certain feature being available on certain devices even though technically the hardware is capable. Beyond that issue its not really that confusing though:-

Lossy atmos typically used by streaming services, the metadata is contained within a Dolby Digital+ container, only requires ARC, As long as the TV can pass Dolby Digital+ it will work. Caveat being most service providers limit the atmos soundtrack to their premium/4k streams

Lossless atmos, Used by UHD/Bluray releases, metadata held within TrueHD container, requires EARC

Dolby MAT, Multichannel PCM with atmos metadata, Some devices choose to decode atmos on Device and send in this format, ATV4K and the xbox being the obvious ones, also needs EARC.


I suppose when I get a 4K display, God willing I'll be able to get Dolby Atmos on Prime Video, but not Netflix.

If you buy a 4K display from one of the main vendors such as LG,Sony,Samsung etc.... you will probably have access to atmos from Netflix via the onboard app anyway.

Hope this helps

cheers
 

arthurke

Standard Member
So I just got a brand new Samsung 5.1 soundbar that's suppposed to support Dolby Atmos. I did some research before buying, and learned that only TVs supporting eARC are able to passthrough Dolby Atmos or any sort of 5.1 track, so you can only get 2.0 regular PCM. My TV is a 2019 LG, not 4K just 1080p, and it only supports ARC.

Anyway, right out of the box I got 5.1 sound from my TV using ARC (with the Fire TV Stick 4K). So I guess you CAN passthrough 5.1 track using only ARC after all. But I knew it wasn't Dolby Atmos since the display in the soundbar didn't show anything. I knew that was asking too much, plus the sound was already great and 5.1 and I was happy with that.

But the itch was already there, I had to know and see Dolby Atmos on the display. So I connected the Fire TV Stick directly to the soundbar. Still no Atmos. Weird. I do some more research, it turns out Netflix on the Fire TV Stick 4K doesn't support Dolby Atmos. WTF. I fire up Prime Video. No Atmos. Some more research later, turns out Prime Video only does Dolby Atmos if your display is 4K. WTF again.

Tried the Netflix app on my TV: no luck. At this point I just wanted to see the Dolby Atmos logo appear on the soundbar display. I tried mkv demos using my Blu-Ray and TV ports. Audio codec not supported. I kindda expected that one TBH.

Then, I installed the Plex Server on my computer and the Plex app on my TV, and tried playing the MKV demos and FINALLY THE GOD DAMNED DOLBY ATMOS LOGO appeared on the soundbar display. So it appears you CAN get Dolby Atmos only using HDMI ARC, you don't need eARC.

So what exactly is it that makes it so hard for apps or devices to support Dolby Atmos? It seems like all planets have to align for you to get the damn thing right. For now, I'm happy just getting 5.1 sound from the Fire TV Stick and I suppose when I get a 4K display, God willing I'll be able to get Dolby Atmos on Prime Video, but not Netflix. It seems silly really, with a capable device like the Fire TV Stick 4K.
Totally with you on this. I recently splashed out on a Sonos Arc with the promise of Dolby Atmos a big part of the decision.

Even after a few weeks, I am now becoming disillusioned with Dolby Atmos. It has become a major selling point for newer soundbars and TVs. But my feeling is that it is simply too much hassle in a consumer setting where there is such a vast array of content players, content services, actual content and audio systems (i.e integral to TV or soundbar) where each combination can have different results. And there is no logic to what works and doesn't work. I have a LG TV that supports Dolby Atmos. Using the native apps, Disney+ and Prime works in DA but Netflix doesn't. A Firestick 4k plugged into the same TV only supports DA for Prime Video (with virtually no content). A Fire TV Cube plugged into the same TV supports DA on Prime and Netflix but not Disney+. My (recent) Panasonic TV has a Netflix app that does not support DA and does not even have a Disney+ app. Amazon Prime Video app supports Dolby Atmos but basically has almost zero content using it. Same issues as with LG TV apply to Firestick/Fire TV. The whole thing is a real mess.

My advice to anyone in my position a few weeks ago would be
a) don't make Dolby Atmos support front and centre (no pun intended!) in your buying decision
b) lower your expectations to assume you won't get Dolby Atmos where you expect it and be pleasantly surprised when you do
c) if you spend money in pursuit of Dolby Atmos then make sure you can send stuff back and cancel subscriptions
 

RobGale

Active Member
Totally with you on this. I recently splashed out on a Sonos Arc with the promise of Dolby Atmos a big part of the decision.

Even after a few weeks, I am now becoming disillusioned with Dolby Atmos. It has become a major selling point for newer soundbars and TVs. But my feeling is that it is simply too much hassle in a consumer setting where there is such a vast array of content players, content services, actual content and audio systems (i.e integral to TV or soundbar) where each combination can have different results. And there is no logic to what works and doesn't work. I have a LG TV that supports Dolby Atmos. Using the native apps, Disney+ and Prime works in DA but Netflix doesn't. A Firestick 4k plugged into the same TV only supports DA for Prime Video (with virtually no content). A Fire TV Cube plugged into the same TV supports DA on Prime and Netflix but not Disney+. My (recent) Panasonic TV has a Netflix app that does not support DA and does not even have a Disney+ app. Amazon Prime Video app supports Dolby Atmos but basically has almost zero content using it. Same issues as with LG TV apply to Firestick/Fire TV. The whole thing is a real mess.

My advice to anyone in my position a few weeks ago would be
a) don't make Dolby Atmos support front and centre (no pun intended!) in your buying decision
b) lower your expectations to assume you won't get Dolby Atmos where you expect it and be pleasantly surprised when you do
c) if you spend money in pursuit of Dolby Atmos then make sure you can send stuff back and cancel subscriptions
This is why I went with the Apple TV. It has the most Atmos support but needs to be connected directly to your soundbar/amp or have a tv that has eARC. I love my setup except for my Xbox which I have to chose between 60hrz and atmos via the soundbar or 120hrz and no atmos via the TV (as Samsung lied about adding eARC to their 2019 TVs)
 

dion 6

Well-known Member
Totally agree getting dolby atmos is very confusing different tvs and devices support atmos on different apps. The first thing to understand is you don't need eARC to get atmos from any of the streaming apps. They use lossy atmos which is DD+ with an atmos metadata which can be sent through arc. The 4K firestick supports atmos on prime and Disney plus but not netflix. My Panasonic GZ950's netflix app supports atmos but the amazon prime app doesn't so I use the tv app for Netflix and the 4K firestick for prime and Disney plus. Once you understand what works and what doesn't its quite easy
 

arthurke

Standard Member
Totally agree getting dolby atmos is very confusing different tvs and devices support atmos on different apps. The first thing to understand is you don't need eARC to get atmos from any of the streaming apps. They use lossy atmos which is DD+ with an atmos metadata which can be sent through arc. The 4K firestick supports atmos on prime and Disney plus but not netflix. My Panasonic GZ950's netflix app supports atmos but the amazon prime app doesn't so I use the tv app for Netflix and the 4K firestick for prime and Disney plus. Once you understand what works and what doesn't its quite easy
It is just the inconsistent information and inconsistent results until you can get to a steady state. I read numerous sources telling me the Firestick 4k would not do Dolby Atmos other than maybe Amazon Prime that has virtually no Atmos content. So I bought an Amazon Fire TV Cube. I got Dolby Atmos on Netflix but not Disney+.

I posted a question on the Fire TV Cube forum, I was told by a response from an Amazon person that it wouldn't deliver Atmos on Disney+. Turns out, like you say, it does work - I have tried on both Firestick 4k and Fire TV Cube 2nd gen. The problem was clearly a temporary glitch with Disney+ (that sadly Disney had not informed its tech support personnel about).

So if Disney can get Atmos on a Firestick 4k then why can't Netflix?

And totally agree that eARC is a bit of an irrelevance. It makes no difference to streaming apps and only comes into play with something like a 4k Blu-Ray player. I only have an ARC TV and the lack of eARC has not caused me a problem. OK, maybe if I had a 4k Blu-Ray player and a new TV with eARC then I would know the difference. But that is not going to happen any time soon.

So for me the combination of Fire TV Cube (for Netflix, Disney+ and Prime) and Sky Q (for some movies and sports in UHD) seems to be the way forward if I want Atmos. Even with an Atmos capable soundbar then I remain to be convinced that Atmos content will sound much better. My soundbar does a good job of DD5.1.
 

arthurke

Standard Member
Hi mate

appreciate there is some frustration here, and I agree its annoying that politics and licensing prevents certain feature being available on certain devices even though technically the hardware is capable. Beyond that issue its not really that confusing though:-

Lossy atmos typically used by streaming services, the metadata is contained within a Dolby Digital+ container, only requires ARC, As long as the TV can pass Dolby Digital+ it will work. Caveat being most service providers limit the atmos soundtrack to their premium/4k streams

Lossless atmos, Used by UHD/Bluray releases, metadata held within TrueHD container, requires EARC

Dolby MAT, Multichannel PCM with atmos metadata, Some devices choose to decode atmos on Device and send in this format, ATV4K and the xbox being the obvious ones, also needs EARC.




If you buy a 4K display from one of the main vendors such as LG,Sony,Samsung etc.... you will probably have access to atmos from Netflix via the onboard app anyway.

Hope this helps

cheers
I don't get Atmos using Netflix app on recent LG and Panasonic 4k TVs. The LG TV even supports Atmos and the Netflix app still does not support Atmos. Only way I get Atmos with Netflix is an Amazon Fire TV Cube. Not saying that other external devices can't do the same (I would be fairly confident of Apple TV 4k) but it should not be for me as the consumer to be the validator for this.

Wish some testing/review site would do some form of what works and what doesn't matrix.
 

chopples

Distinguished Member
I don't get Atmos using Netflix app on recent LG and Panasonic 4k TVs. The LG TV even supports Atmos and the Netflix app still does not support Atmos. Only way I get Atmos with Netflix is an Amazon Fire TV Cube. Not saying that other external devices can't do the same (I would be fairly confident of Apple TV 4k) but it should not be for me as the consumer to be the validator for this.

Wish some testing/review site would do some form of what works and what doesn't matrix.

No idea on Panasonic but atmos over ARC from Netflix on LG sets has been shown to work, my Sony set also works with atmos from Netflix using a 2018 Samsung soundbar.

going back to the LG, due to having an onboard MAT decoder the audio processing can be set a few ways so perhaps that is where the issue lies, the set can output both as DD+ Or as MAT and if it was set to MAT then everything in the chain needs to support both earc and multichannel pcm (which is known to be an issue on some configs)
 

SANAFABICH

Standard Member
And totally agree that eARC is a bit of an irrelevance. It makes no difference to streaming apps and only comes into play with something like a 4k Blu-Ray player.
It does make a difference with lossless content though. ARC does not support Dolby True HD or DTS HD Master audio. That's why I have my blu-ray player (not 4K) hooked up directly to my sound system, and the difference is quite noticeable.
 

THX1138UK

Well-known Member
All the streaming services use Dolby Digital+ as the carrier for Dolby Atmos, and it's fully compatible with ARC (you do not need eARC).

Regards,
James.
 

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