5 Reasons Dolby Atmos May Be DOA

A

admin

Audioholics Robot
Staff member
Everyone in the AV and home theater world is buzzing about Dolby Atmos. This object-based processing for sound allows sound engineers to move sound around the room three dimensionally rather than just pans. From the content creator side, there is no doubt that Atmos is a useful tool. For the home user, however, it is clearly stillborn. Here are five reasons why.


Read 5 Reasons Dolby Atmos is DOA

Let us know if you agree or disagree with this opinion piece and if you will be upgrading your system to incorporate Dolby Atmos or waiting it out till the next generation of products.
 
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AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I agree 100%.

There will be people who want extra speakers. If you encourage people to hook 20 speakers to their amps, some people will do it. But I don't think there will be enough adopters to make ATMOS successful.
 
XEagleDriver

XEagleDriver

Senior Audioholic
A Paritally Opposing View

Partially agree, details below:

5) Cost - Disagree; most new tech (i.e. 5.1/7.1, BR, 3D, 4k, etc.) involves initial high cost which drops in price/becomes more mainstream over time--probably same story for Atmos.
4) Stupid Speakers - partially agree; up-shooting speakers are stupid, way too many variables; 2 or 4 ceiling mounted speakers, not necessarily so.
3) Height/Presence - Disagree; the difference is the advent of Atmos content which will directly support the new configuration (similar to acceptance of Actual 5.1 vs. software contrived SS modes).
2) Users Ignorant - Partially Agree; how many of us started with a HTiB and got interested/learned more over time?
1) Not Enough WoW - Jury still out until I've heard it.

My 2cents :p

Cheers,
XEagleDriver
 
M

metalmancpa

Audioholic Intern
Excellent read. I recently received a Crutchfield catalogue touting Atmos. After reading it, and just recently shelling out $1,500 for a receiver upgrade (replaced a decades old Yamaha RX-V2090/DDP-1 combo setup with a Yamaha RX-A3020), I just can't see myself jumping on anything for another decade or two, as my new setup sounds awesome. So sounds don't pass over my head - not enough for me to jump.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I think when people buy new receivers (replace outdated or malfunctioned AVR), chances are they will have ATMOS whether they want it or not. It will probably be like DTS HD and Dolby TrueHD. It will be there. Pretty much a non-factor.

So I think the key is, will people add more speakers or change their entire speaker systems? And I think most people are not willing to have 11 speakers in their 17' x 20' living rooms.
 
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F

FirstReflection

AV Rant Co-Host
I'm the one guy Tom knows with Front Wide speakers!


I'm not kidding. It really is me :D


I'll tell you the reason I'm a fan of Dolby Atmos, and it's what Tom wrote at the very beginning of this article: Dolby Atmos is a useful new tool for sound mixers.


Object-based mixing is easier than channel-based mixing - especially when we start getting into overhead sounds. 11, 13, or 22 channels just becomes an unweildy mess. I wouldn't want to try and keep all of those individual channels in mind, attempting to steer sounds and pan across that many channels. I seriously doubt most sound mixers want that either. Object-based mixing makes it so much easier.


Not only that, but once the object-based mix is completed, that soundtrack is done! That one mix can be used in any playback system. Still have just traditional 5.1 speaker placement? No problem, the object-based Atmos mix is backwards compatible with that. Have 5.1 plus two speakers somewhere overhead? Great! Go ahead and take advantage of some of those overhead sounds and pans. The mix doesn't need to change. Have 24 speakers all around you and 10 more overhead? Step on up. Yet again, the exact same mix can take advantage of ALL of those speakers. No channel-based mix can come close to that kind of flexibility, so that's the real advantage of Dolby Atmos, in my opinion. Dolby Atmos soundtracks and Blu-rays and streams with Dolby Atmos make all the sense in the world.


So if we end up agreeing that Dolby Atmos soundtracks make a lot of sense on the production and distribution side, it makes the whole effort to bring Dolby Atmos playback systems into our homes a lot easier to accept, in my view. Want to stick with the 5.1 speaker setup you already have? Go right ahead! Dolby Atmos Blu-rays, streams and downloads do not require you to change anything - they'll play just fine on your 5.1 setup. I think that's pretty cool.


But there's some extra information on that Blu-ray disc or in that audio/video stream now. Want to hear that extra info? Well, then you'll need at least 2 more speakers. And if you're willing and able, you could add up to 29 more speakers! But it's totally up to you.


So the issue, to me, isn't the value of Dolby Atmos - it's the way we're being told about it. It's being marketed as the new, better, "you must own this" feature. Of course it is; that's all marketing people know how to do. But I really wish they'd come at it differently.


"Here's a very cool, new tool for sound mixers. It let's them do things with sound that weren't possible before, and it let's them do things they were already doing, but quicker and more easily.


Once they've created their new mix, that one mix can be played back using almost any combination of speakers - from existing 5.1 setups to 34.1 speaker super systems.


And that one mix can be sent to you using existing Blu-ray players and internet streaming services, no updates needed!


You don't even have to buy a new decoder. Your existing Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus decoders will play back these new mixes just fine.


But if you'd like to hear some of the fancy new effects that have been made possible by these new tools for sound mixers, you'll need a new decoder and at least 2 new, overhead speaker positions.


Don't want to physically install speakers above you? No problem. We've created new speakers that can simulate having speakers overhead. Don't want to replace your existing speakers? No problem, we also have add-on Modules that simulate the overhead effect.


From there, the more speakers you add, the more precise the new effects can become, but it's all coming from one mix that can do it all.

Pretty cool, huh? :) "


So I get that we don't like feeling as though something new is being shoved down our throats. I happen to enjoy 3D movies, but the marketing was so overly aggressive that a lot of people pushed back and rejected it. I understand that. And I'm saddened to see the same thing happening with Atmos.


There's no need to force Atmos down consumers' throats. Sound mixers love it, and being able to have a single mix that can take full advantage of almost ANY number of speakers makes a tremendous amount of sense. That's efficient and smart.


Dolby Atmos Home Theater systems need to be offered, not shoved. That's where the negative push-back is coming from, as far as I can tell. Me? I just want to hear the stuff that's getting sound mixers excited. If I need to slightly modify my playback system in order to do that, I've got no problem with that. And I'm happy that Dolby is trying to give me as many methods of modifying my playback system with the lowest additional cost possible.


Dolby's efforts are good. The marketing is bad. There shouldn't be any reason for people to be getting mad about Dolby Atmos at Home. No one should be calling it stupid. But we are. So the marketing people REALLY need to look at that. Something is getting majorly lost and twisted in the messaging. And that's a shame.


- Rob H.
 
cpp

cpp

Audioholic Field Marshall
Can't see it lasting or being successful for the home user while going down the same rabbit hole as 3D. Sure if one has a lot of money and a nice HT room with all the cool electronics with all the bells and whistles sure ATMOS could work with a host of speakers. And then of course you will have those souls that will go out a spend the bucks on the receiver and these wize bang speakers and sure they will defend their investment till the bitter end, but they will know that their investment is not what they expected. And of course the marketing hoopla will say it's the best thing since surround sound and continue to defend their design and engineering strategies but they will know it works for the large cinema theaters and not the home user, but hey lets sell the speakers anyway. It's just my take on the subject and yes I have heard ATMOS in person at two quality theaters in Fla. I just can't see getting that same experience at home especially with gimmicky speakers that I got in a ATMOS theater regardless of the money spent. .
 
S

shadyJ

Speaker of the House
I totally agree with FirstReflection here. In fact I was going to write much the same stuff, but he beat me to it, and he said it better than I could have anyway. Atmos real benefits aren't in a plethora of other speakers or new weirdo speakers. The magic is in the mix. Like FirstReflection said, it is one sound mix to rule them all. Personally I am looking forward to Atmos soundtracks. I think FirstReflections reply is spot on, and serves as a great rebuttle to the article.
 
GranteedEV

GranteedEV

Audioholic Ninja
Great article by Tom and a great counter by First Reflection!
 
M

MidnightSensi2

Audioholic Chief
Dolby's efforts are good. The marketing is bad. There shouldn't be any reason for people to be getting mad about Dolby Atmos at Home. No one should be calling it stupid. But we are. So the marketing people REALLY need to look at that. Something is getting majorly lost and twisted in the messaging. And that's a shame.
First, thanks for such a great post. I agree about the advantages of object-oriented mixing as mentioned in the other atmos thread.

In terms of APPLICATION of a home atmos system, which is what they are showing, it IS STUPID. Are receivers going to have extra channels now that will go unused just to get a check on the box? I don't want to pay for that nor have poorer per channel performance because they spent money adding channels we don't need or want.
 
L

lesser evil

Enthusiast
sssshhh!

Sssshhh! I'm waiting to buy one of those 11.2 or 13.2 channel receivers on discontinued pricing so that I can use the digital processor capability to fully bi-amp a 5.1 active speaker system.
 
R

Reorx

Full Audioholic
I have vaulted ceilings. Guess I am out of luck.
no monies 4 u.

going to buy 2 new subs instead.
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
This is a great thread and I love the discussion. Man Tom's article is pissing off a few industry folks and manufacturers. I'm glad I didn't write this one but seriously it seems increasingly difficult to express an opinion these days without offending people. I even offered a particular industry person to author a counterpoint to this article as I would happily publish it. Let's get all viewpoints on the table. And I goddammit if the 3" little paper whizzer cone Atmos reflection speakers sound good when I evaluate them, I will EAT my hat on Youtube.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Backward compatibility is the key.

I know a lot of people who still fully enjoy DD & DTS, instead of Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD.

It's going to be the same way with Dolby ATMOS & DTS MDA. If you don't use Dolby ATMOS and DTS MDA, then you can still enjoy Dolby True HD, DD, DTS HD, and DTS.
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
I'm the one guy Tom knows with Front Wide speakers!

...I'll tell you the reason I'm a fan of Dolby Atmos, and it's what Tom wrote at the very beginning of this article: Dolby Atmos is a useful new tool for sound mixers.


Object-based mixing is easier than channel-based mixing - especially when we start getting into overhead sounds. 11, 13, or 22 channels just becomes an unweildy mess. I wouldn't want to try and keep all of those individual channels in mind, attempting to steer sounds and pan across that many channels. I seriously doubt most sound mixers want that either. Object-based mixing makes it so much easier.


Not only that, but once the object-based mix is completed, that soundtrack is done! That one mix can be used in any playback system. Still have just traditional 5.1 speaker placement? No problem, the object-based Atmos mix is backwards compatible with that. Have 5.1 plus two speakers somewhere overhead? Great! Go ahead and take advantage of some of those overhead sounds and pans. The mix doesn't need to change. Have 24 speakers all around you and 10 more overhead? Step on up. Yet again, the exact same mix can take advantage of ALL of those speakers. No channel-based mix can come close to that kind of flexibility, so that's the real advantage of Dolby Atmos, in my opinion. Dolby Atmos soundtracks and Blu-rays and streams with Dolby Atmos make all the sense in the world.
If this statement was true for home Atmos, I would completely agree.
But from what I have read, Atmos is based a fixed bed 5.1 or 7.1 mix where a channel is now called an fixed object.
This appears to be a marketing attempt to claim that it is fully object based. :rolleyes:

The mix includes some objects placed within the bed that are extracted by the Atmos enabled processor, removed from the bed, moved in a 3D space with the aid of ceiling channels.

It seems that a smart down-mix is still required. Maybe that's not hard with the proper tools but it is not just one mix.

If Atmos were truly object based then it would map to the existing speakers with knowledge of their positions.

Even then, it might not be significantly better than a channel-based mix, but it would be "one mix to rule them all" :D

How many people will purchase the Atmos processor for use in the 5.1 or 7.1 system and expect an improvement and how many sale people will be happy to make that claim when they failed to sell them the new Atmos speakers or modules? ;)

- Rich
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
Backward compatibility is the key.

I know a lot of people who still fully enjoy DD & DTS, instead of Dolby TrueHD & DTS-HD.

It's going to be the same way with Dolby ATMOS & DTS MDA. If you don't use Dolby ATMOS and DTS MDA, then you can still enjoy Dolby True HD, DD, DTS HD, and DTS.
I know I do. Especially, when I rent Lionsgate BD's form Redbox that only have DD 5.1 sound tracks :D

- Rich
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
This is a great thread and I love the discussion. Man Tom's article is pissing off a few industry folks and manufacturers. I'm glad I didn't write this one but seriously it seems increasingly difficult to express an opinion these days without offending people. I even offered a particular industry person to author a counterpoint to this article as I would happily publish it. Let's get all viewpoints on the table. And I goddammit if the 3" little paper whizzer cone Atmos reflection speakers sound good when I evaluate them, I will EAT my hat on Youtube.
Here is the AVS thread.

Why dolby atmos is doa!! - AVS Forum

One post announced the AH has gone fully anti-atmos, so you'll get the blame anyway :p

This thread and its AVS counterpart have already provided a wider range of opinion.

There are handful of posters who have been given the Atmos demo at Dolby and are full-on boosters. It's nice to have the regular folk weigh in:D

- Rich
 
gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
If this statement was true for home Atmos, I would completely agree.
But from what I have read, Atmos is based a fixed bed 5.1 or 7.1 mix where a channel is now called an fixed object.
This appears to be a marketing attempt to claim that it is fully object based. :rolleyes:

The mix includes some objects placed within the bed that are extracted by the Atmos enabled processor, removed from the bed, moved in a 3D space with the aid of ceiling channels.

It seems that a smart down-mix is still required. Maybe that's not hard with the proper tools but it is not just one mix.

If Atmos were truly object based then it would map to the existing speakers with knowledge of their positions.

Even then, it might not be significantly better than a channel-based mix, but it would be "one mix to rule them all" :D

How many people will purchase the Atmos processor for use in the 5.1 or 7.1 system and expect an improvement and how many sale people will be happy to make that claim when they failed to sell them the new Atmos speakers or modules? ;)

- Rich

I think you will all find this interesting.

I proposed the following questions to a trusted source in the industry and here are the responses.


<!--[if gte mso 9]><![endif]--> Q: Can you please give me one reason Atmos will benefit the end user only implementing a traditional 5.1 or 7.1 speaker system? Will the standard Atmos 5.1/7.1 mix sound ANY different than the TrueHD mix or are they one in the same since those are the bed channels?

A: I don't know the definitive answer to this, but I assume there is no benefit to the Atmos mix on standard 5.1/7.1 system.




Q: Can I place my surround speakers on a wall and add an Atmos speaker on top of it?

A: Theoretically you could, but Atmos spec for their module is ear height, so performance would be compromised.



Q: If I have in-ceiling speakers I’m currently using as surround back channels, can I remap them to Atmos or do I have to move them to the middle of the room?

A: If you have an existing 5 or 7 channel system, the path of least resistance is to add one pair of top middle in ceilings or middle up firing modules. For best performance, if you have the capability you would add top front and top rear in ceilings.




Don’t you see the irony here? Atmos has no real benefit for legacy 5.1/7.1 systems despite Dolby claims object based audio decoders are superior. They forgot to mention that the standard 7.1 or less speaker layout is still using TrueHD which is NOT object based.

Anyone that is limited to a 7.1 layout cannot easily retrofit their existing system to Atmos unless they are willing to: relocate speakers or replace their perfectly good ones with Cybetronian ones.

God I’m glad there is at least ONE website that brings up this VERY valid viewpoint instead of regurgitating the same bullshit.


I'm wondering if there is an Atmos article here?

<!--[if gte mso 9]><![endif]--><!--[if gte mso 10]> <![endif]-->
 
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gene

gene

Audioholics Master Chief
Administrator
Here is the AVS thread.

Why dolby atmos is doa!! - AVS Forum

One post announced the AH has gone fully anti-atmos, so you'll get the blame anyway :p

This thread and its AVS counterpart have already provided a wider range of opinion.

There are handful of posters who have been given the Atmos demo at Dolby and are full-on boosters. It's nice to have the regular folk weigh in:D

- Rich
Yes we are going downhill fast b/c of our skeptical nature. I think they may all be in for a shocker when we start reviewing the Atmos gear and if it pans out well, watching me eat my own hat on Youtube :) I'm fully prepared to change my viewpoints if I have a positive demo experience in my own theater room but Tom Andry is sticking to his prediction regardless if the tech is good or not ;)
 
rojo

rojo

Audioholic Samurai
Follow-up article: how to make a hat out of fruit roll ups and twizzlers
 

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