A little over a year ago, I began experimenting with ways to expand my Dolby Atmos surround sound system to beyond the 7.1.4 limitation of current consumer hardware. My continued quest to achieve the best Atmos experience at home has recently driven me to make additional upgrades. These days, my home theater is so crazily complicated that I actually need to run three A/V receivers simultaneously to manage all my speakers.
In most home theaters, 7.1.4 channels of sound should be plenty enough. Even though the Atmos format (as well as its competitor, DTS:X) can support additional speakers, there hasn’t been much demand for that from consumers or much push from manufacturers to do it. Currently, only boutique high-end products such as the $37,000Trinnov Altitude 32will decode more than 11 channels at once.
Nonetheless, for some of us, a limit of four height channels isn’t enough to fill the top of the room with sound. My own home theater is a long room with a lot of space behind my seats. That, combined with a low ceiling, makes it difficult for just four speakers (two in the front of the room and two in the back) to image a sound above my head convincingly. This issue is compounded by the fact that the locations where I had installed speakers when I built the home theater (before immersive audio was a concern I gave any thought to) were less than ideal for Atmos. Those speakers are now fixed in place with wiring through the walls and ceiling, and I can’t move them without remodeling the room. That simply isn’t an option.
The better solution is to install additional speakers in the center between the other height channels (Top Middle position). Unfortunately, the asking price for that Trinnov processor is absurdly beyond my budget. I needed to find a way to jury-rig a similar effect for a fraction of the cost.
(Video) Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4 - Where to next?
The First Attempt
Iwrote an article last yearexplaining how I had cobbled together a convoluted system (jokingly dubbed “Zatmos”) utilizing a second A/V receiver to derive extra channels on my ceiling. I advise reading that piece to understand the basic concept of how such a thing is possible.
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Even at the time, I was not the only person experimenting with this, and I knew that my Zatmos system was not as ideal as I would have liked it.Over at AVSForum, a member named Scott Simonian had gone even further to use a total ofthree A/V receiversin unison to create a 7.1.6 configuration (affectionately known as “Scatmos”) more accurate to the intentions of the original Dolby Atmos sound mixers.
For a while, I decided not to go that far. The complexity of installing, connecting and configuring three A/V receivers seemed like overkill to me. I felt that the results I had with Zatmos were good enough to get me most of the way there, and I had a certain amount of egotistical pride that I’d figured out a way to do it with just one extra receiver rather than two.
However, in recent months, my attitude changed and I grew less satisfied with the Zatmos configuration. Eventually, I knew that if I was going to do this, I needed to do it right.
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Going Full Scatmos
The silly Zatmos and Scatmos nicknames can be more formally grouped under the heading of “Dolby Atmos Extended.” I want to be clear here that I did not develop the Scatmos process. Credit for that goes to Scott Simonian and others at AVSForum who helped him work it out. With his permission, I’m just trying to explain it here.
For as perhaps ridiculously complicated as they may be to install, one of the saving graces of these experiments is that they can be assembled relatively inexpensively. Although your primary A/V receiver must be a Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) model capable of decoding 7.1.4 channels of sound from a Blu-ray or UHD immersive audio soundtrack, the secondary receivers don’t need to be nearly as fancy. Any receiver that has, at a minimum, Dolby ProLogic II processing will do. (If using multiple secondary receivers, I recommend that they be identical to each other.)
With a little patience while monitoring For Sale ads on my local Craigslist, I managed to pick up a pair of used Marantz SR4400s for well below $100 each. This is a no-frills, entry-level (or close to it) Dolby Digital/DTS model from 2003. It’s so basic that it doesn’t even have an on-screen menu system. I have to set it up using only the front panel display. The receiver doesn’t have HDMI and cannot handle lossless Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio signals, but it doesn’t need to. All it needs is a pair of analog stereo inputs (which any receiver will have) and ProLogic II.
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The simple act of finding a place to put another A/V receiver in my system proved to be far more of an ordeal than I wanted. Because I didn’t have enough space for it on my main equipment shelf, I had to remove all my components, take the shelf apart, rearrange the levels, put most of the equipment back, and hook it up again. Then I had to do the same thing with the second shelf in order to add a level. My Blu-ray and HD DVD players, which had previously been on the main shelf, moved over to the second so that I could keep all the audio equipment together where the speaker wire will reach it. This, in itself, was a tremendous pain to do.
(Video) 4K Home Theater Tour! 7.1.4 ATMOS PLEX UNRAID!
With that finished, here’s the basic idea behind Scatmos: You want to mount six ceiling speakers – in the Top Front, Top Middle and Top Rear positions. (The following sketch does not represent my personal speaker layout, but I’ve drawn it this way to show how itshouldbe done.) Your primary A/V receiver will be set to decode its maximum of 7.1.4 channels, configured as Top Front and Top Rear.
All four of the height channels should be routed to the analog pre-out connections on the primary AVR. You should not attach any speaker wire to those channels on the primary AVR. For all of the height channels, speaker wire will be attached only to the secondary AVRs.
The pre-outs for the Top Front Left and Top Rear Left channels will go into the Right and Left stereo inputs on AVR 2.
(Video) Trinnov Altitude Processors: Breaking the 7.1.4 Surround Barrier
The pre-outs for the Top Front Right and Top Rear Right channels will go into the Left and Right (reversed from AVR 2) stereo inputs on AVR 3.
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If that sounds confusing already, trying to keep it straight while actually connecting the cables and wires can be truly daunting. I strongly recommend drawing a chart that shows what should go where.
When working properly, each of the secondary downstream AVRs should take a stereo signal consisting of part Front and part Rear, and matrix a Middle channel between them using any mono information in common to both (much as ProLogic II would extract a center channel for dialogue in the front of your room between your left and right speakers under normal circumstances). Thus you get six channels of height information from an original four.
(Video) My 2021 7.1.4 Home Theater & Audiophile Stereo System!
That’s the theory, simplified to its most basic elements. Actually getting it to work properly after your connections are made has some added levels of difficulty that I’ll cover soon in Part 2.
Read Part 2
1. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 on Amazon|Raalmak
2. 747 DOLBY ATMOS DEMO 7.1.4
3. Dolby Atmos Object Demo on 7.1.4 Speakers - 360 Spatial Audio
4. The 5 best Dolby Atmos Movie Scenes to Test your System
5. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with 8 Wireless Subwoofer
6. New Heights in my Atmos Studio (Thanks Billie)
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The sound is deeper and more precise with Dolby Atmos than with conventional Surround 7.1 systems due to the addition of overhead sound and superior calibration software.Is Dolby Atmos on Apple music good? ›
For movies and TV shows, it is absolutely superb. Whenever I use my AirPods Pro or AirPods Max in conjunction with my Apple TV, the head tracking and completely un-headphone-like sound reproduction never fail to amaze me.Is Atmos music the future? ›
The Future of Dolby Atmos
And even more immersive and engaging experience for music fans. Dolby Atmos is the future of music and sound. It's providing an immersive and engaging experience for music listeners and musicians alike.
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Both DTS and Dolby Atmos are top of the line sound systems that are made to get the most out of your home theater with surround sound. DTS does offer a higher sound bitrate, but the two are identical.Is Dolby Atmos the best sound quality? ›
Dolby Atmos is an improvement on what came before and a leap forward from surround sound. It's ultimately designed to put you in the center of it all when watching movies or listening to music to give you the most immersive sound possible.How do I know if Dolby Atmos is working on Apple music? ›
How can I see if a song is available in Dolby Atmos? Play the song, then check for the Dolby Atmos badge in Now Playing. If every song on an album is available in Dolby Atmos, you'll see the Dolby Atmos badge on the album's detail page. Some songs are available in Dolby Atmos only on a particular version of an album.Why does Dolby Atmos sound muffled? ›
With Dolby Atmos Music, however, this is also the case although it shouldn't be. The sound gets is filtered to add the threedimensional effect, making the singer sound further away than he or she actually is. That's exactly what you can read in many comments: The vocals sound somehow muffled and far away.What's better lossless or Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology, while lossless means that track was compressed without any data loss - tracks have higher bitrate, so they should sound better on supported devices than standard AAC, MP3 or any other tracks with lossy compression I guess.Should I listen to music with Dolby Atmos? ›
With Dolby Atmos Music, the experience is better. Artists can create soundscapes that are much more seamless and compelling. They can precisely place sound “objects” in your listening space and engage your imagination by moving the objects around. Immersive music is now more affordable, too.
You can currently experience Dolby Atmos with select Blu-rays and through an array of streaming platforms ... and that includes Netflix.How many speakers does Dolby Atmos need? ›
We recommend installing four Dolby Atmos enabled speakers whenever possible. The use of four speakers will make the placement of overhead sounds more accurate, and you'll get more precise, realistic sounds when an object, such as a helicopter, passes overhead.What is the difference between true Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec with support for up to 7.1 audio channels and is used with Blu-ray Discs. No major streaming platforms use it. Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology that allows sounds to be placed anywhere in a 3D environment.How do I get the best out of Dolby Atmos? ›
To get the best Atmos experience with your TV, you should send the audio output to a soundbar or AV receiver. For this, you will need an HDMI ARC connection and Dolby Digital Plus audio support. Most newer TVs will be fine, but anything before 2018 may have problems.What is the maximum Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos technology allows up to 128 audio tracks plus associated spatial audio description metadata (location or pan automation data, data about the sound's movement, type, intensity, speed and volume) to be distributed to theaters for rendering to loudspeakers based on the theater capabilities.What is the highest Dolby sound quality? ›
True to the artist's vision, Dolby True HD delivers the best sound possible for movies, music, and TV shows with lossless audio.
Dolby Atmos captures the director's intent and brings it intact to any theatre of any size and configuration, from 5.1 and 7.1 up to 64 channels. It ensures that the audience experience is always the best possible for your specific playback environment.Which is better DTS or Dolby? ›
Which is better: DTS or Dolby Digital? Based on the specs alone, DTS beats its rival with higher bit-rates that promise a more realistic movie experience. That said, other factors such as signal-to-noise ratio and speaker calibration mean that plenty of audiophiles would rate Dolby above DTS.How do you know if you're actually getting Dolby Atmos sound? ›
The one surefire way to confirm Dolby Atmos is working is to check the information panel on the front of your AV receiver or your soundbar (if it has one, or perhaps an on-screen display). It should display the kind of audio signal it's currently working with.Why do songs sound different on Dolby Atmos? ›
Without Atmos-enabled headphones, Dolby Atmos tracks have an artificial wideness to them, unfamiliar placement of vocals and instrumentation, and just sounds weird and “echoey”. Typically, you'll need either a 5.1 speaker setup, a 7.1 speaker setup, or a soundbar.
Like, it's a night/day difference in terms of max volume compared to standard. As soon as I enable Atmos, songs get so much quieter. Switch it off, and you can hear “real” full volume again. is a perfect example of this.What is Dolby Atmos supposed to sound like? ›
Dolby Atmos takes surround sound to the next level by delivering a true 3D audio experience. Think of it as 4K for your ears. Available in the best soundbars, game consoles, TVs, as well as smaller devices like laptops, phones and headphones, Dolby Atmos is becoming a must-have feature for serious movie fans.Is Dolby Atmos lossless audio? ›
Dolby Atmos averages around 6,000 kbps when a 48kHz sampling rate is used. But Atmos can be encoded losslessly at up to 24-bit/192kHz, which results in bit rates that can soar as high as 18,000 kbps.Is there a big difference between Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology built on the codec of Dolby Digital Plus (Dolby Digital Plus is also known as Enhanced AC-3). In addition to the multi-channel surround sound capabilities of Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby Atmos adds additional height-based audio channels.Can you AirPlay Dolby Atmos? ›
You can stream Apple Originals in Dolby Atmos with the Apple TV app using supported streaming devices like Apple TV 4K, smart TVs, and gaming consoles. Be sure to use high-quality HDMI cables to connect your devices. You can also stream wirelessly from your laptop or mobile device using AirPlay or Chromecast.Do Netflix movies have Dolby Atmos? ›
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.Who is Google Dolby Atmos competitor? ›
One of Atmos's prominent competitors is Sony's 360 Reality Audio, but another may be on the way… from Google. Tech site Protocol reported that Google is developing two new 'open media' formats for 3D audio and HDR video under the working title of 'Project Caviar'.What is the bitrate of Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos audio in Dolby Digital Plus is typically encoded at bitrates between 384 and 768 kbps.How much does Dolby Atmos mixing cost? ›
Dolby Atmos Up-Mixes
The average price for a Dolby Atmos up-mix of an existing stereo mix is $150. Atmos up-mixes are mastered and ready for release.
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Dolby Atmos for Headphones will work with any headphones, since the software still outputs to just two channels to simulate sound from all directions.Is Dolby Atmos worth turning on? ›
Yes! Movie streaming platforms with Dolby Atmos (From: Dolby). The quality Dolby Atmos lends to movies is unreal, even without a massive home theater setup. So it'll be worth the investment if you're a movie buff and really into immersive audio.Does Amazon Prime have Dolby Atmos? ›
Amazon Prime Video offers Dolby Atmos as part of its standard subscription. To fully experience Dolby Atmos, you need to first make sure you are watching a series created in the audio format. Be sure to look for the Dolby Atmos badge on the title pages of your favourite series.Does Disney plus have Atmos? ›
Disney+ offers a growing library of content in 5.1 surround sound and Dolby Atmos. You can find which audio formats are supported by clicking on the title you want to watch then navigating to the Details tab.How do you tell if a movie is Dolby Atmos on Netflix? ›
Netflix titles that support Dolby Atmos have a small speaker icon with the word "Atmos" next to it. Watch for this logo, and you'll know that you'll get the Atmos sound experience.... If a movie or show supports Dolby Atmos a small logo (pictured above) will appear under the title.Do I need eARC for Dolby Atmos? ›
Is eARC Required for Dolby Atmos? No, eARC is not required for Dolby Atmos to work. Dolby Atmos can work with regular HDMI ARC through the Dolby Digital Plus audio codec.How big of a room do you need for Dolby Atmos? ›
Experts estimate the optimal Atmos mix room is about 18 x 21-feet with a ten-foot-high ceiling. The absolute smallest is 10 x 11.5-feet with at least an eight-foot-high ceiling. These space specifications are estimated for optimal speaker configuration and sound dispersion.Should subwoofer be in front or back of room? ›
If you're in doubt, put the subwoofer in front of the room. Some audiophiles feel, if a subwoofer is a few feet away from the wall you'll have improved sound quality. It reduces the risk for standing waves and nulls helping to ensure great quality bass.Which is better Dolby 7.1 or 4k Atmos? ›
The sound is deeper and more precise with Dolby Atmos than with conventional Surround 7.1 systems due to the addition of overhead sound and superior calibration software.Why does Dolby Atmos sound so good? ›
The defining feature of Dolby Atmos is its configuration of audio objects. Sounds are no longer limited to their respective channels. Since Atmos' introduction, audio is interpreted and recreated as objects. Think of each sound as a floating orb in space: it's not limited to vertical or horizontal movement.
The Dolby Atmos sound system is the best in the business and is the most commonly utilized in movie theaters. IMAX can't match the reclining seats with transducers that enhance the entire experience.Which Dolby Atmos mode is best? ›
Dolby Atmos - use Music mode at all times
Auto sometimes made my music / movies sound honky, with a slight bump in the mids. Movie and Voice modes have a weird mid scoop, which makes audio sound a bit "hollow" to me. Music seemed to be the best out of the bunch — and for every type of media, too.
Place the soundbar in a position that will not block the Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers's audio path to the ceiling. To deliver the best height effects, the soundbar should be placed no higher than halfway up the wall from floor to ceiling.Which is better Atmos or Dolby? ›
Dolby Atmos is an upgraded version of Dolby Digital 5.1, which means Atmos is way better than the 5.1 version. They can offer different sound qualities and surround sound.Which sound system is better Dolby or Atmos? ›
Essentially, Atmos makes it sound like you're in a movie or at a concert — and it's incredible. However, Dolby makes a lot of digital technologies and that has the potential to confuse some consumers.Is Dolby 7.1 better? ›
Better sound for all seats
Dolby Surround 7.1 increases the impact of surround sound by adding two audio channels. In the process, it improves the spatial dimension of movie audio and enhances overall audio definition for movie soundtracks.
A 7.1 system is a great choice for larger rooms where sound may get lost in the space. It provides a deeper surround sound listening experience. Theater quality media designed for a 7.1 system will come through clearer than it would on a 5.1 system.Do you need HDMI 2.1 for Dolby Atmos? ›
You're in luck — all you need is a single HDMI cable to connect your TV and soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos (HDMI 2.0 for ARC should do the trick while HDMI 2.1 is necessary for eARC setups). This is the simplest option and will send audio directly from your TV to your soundbar.Does Netflix support Dolby Atmos? ›
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.Does Dolby Atmos affect sound quality? ›
It is important to note that Dolby Atmos is an object-specific audio system. This means it enhances the sound of objects more vividly instead of improving the overall sound quality.
We recommend installing four Dolby Atmos enabled speakers whenever possible. The use of four speakers will make the placement of overhead sounds more accurate, and you'll get more precise, realistic sounds when an object, such as a helicopter, passes overhead.Is Dolby Atmos a one time purchase? ›
You can also activate Dolby Atmos for Headphones with a one-time purchase in the Dolby Access app, or purchase select partner headsets that include Dolby Atmos for Headphones activation.What size room is good for 7.1 surround sound? ›
How big is your room? If it's larger than around 350 square feet, consider a 7.1 speaker setup. If it's smaller, a 5.1 may be more appropriate.Which is better Dolby or DTS? ›
Which is better: DTS or Dolby Digital? Based on the specs alone, DTS beats its rival with higher bit-rates that promise a more realistic movie experience. That said, other factors such as signal-to-noise ratio and speaker calibration mean that plenty of audiophiles would rate Dolby above DTS.Can a 7.1 receiver play Dolby Atmos? ›
A Dolby Atmos home theater can play any stereo, 5.1, or 7.1 content.How many speakers does Dolby 7.1 need? ›
2 system uses two ceiling speakers, or two Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers or modules. A 5.1. 4 or 7.1. 4 system uses four ceiling speakers, or four Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers or modules.Should I use 7.1 surround sound for music? ›
The major reason to purchase a 7.1 surround sound system is multiple channels. EKSA E900 Pro includes eight channels that offer music producers and sound engineers' immersive sound quality. As a result, they can enhance their mix and produce wide-sounding songs.
So 7.1 surround sound is better, then? In most cases, yes: 7.1 surround systems offer richer, and more immersive audio.