Has Dolby Home Atmos Been a Step Forward for Home Audio?

Do you think Dolby's Home Atmos hasbeen a positive move on the whole for home audio?

  • Yes, Home Atmos has been a move in the right direction.

    Votes: 21 46.7%
  • Dolby's Home Atmos has overall been good for home audio but has some flaws.

    Votes: 19 42.2%
  • Home Atmos has become a misbegotten mess for home audio.

    Votes: 4 8.9%
  • I don't know what a Dolby Home Atmos is. Help, I am lost and scared!

    Votes: 1 2.2%

  • Total voters
    45
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
The living room is acoustically sub-optimal with tile floors, large windows on one wall and two sliding glass doors on the other. The Sony STR-DN1080 Calibration software/process made a noticeable improvement.
You have a large area rug for your living room, right? :D
 
rabidsquirrel

rabidsquirrel

Audiophyte
You have a large area rug for your living room, right? :D
No. Rugs are more trouble than they are worth in our household as we have a bunch of animals in the house. Rugs tend to get destroyed quickly when our varmints are involved...

I know it would help a bunch, but that isn't really in the cards for us.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
If low frequencies are too powerful on recent soundtracks, they're too powerful with or without Atmos as the LFE channel has nothing to do with Atmos in the sense it's present with or without it. It's a Hollywood decision how much bass goes into a given soundtrack.
 
bsas

bsas

Enthusiast
I know that it's almost kind of a consensus that the "bouncy speakers" (up firing speakers) are not great compared to installing speakers directly into the ceiling, but, from experience I can tell that even if they are not "as good", I think they do some of the effect and they are better than no Atmos speakers at all.

For the longest time I had my 5.2 system that I loved dearly and I never saw the reason to upgrade. Recently I've got a new receiver (the amazing Denon AVR-X3600H) and after I configured my 5.2 system on it I was super happy with the sound (a little improvement over my old/simpler Sony receiver).

Then, I've got curious and I found 4x (2 pairs) of those bouncy Pioneer speakers (the SP-T22A-LR) very cheap (like $180 for all 4x) and I've thought to myself "whatever, it is worth the try". And I loved it.

Setting them to 200hz crossover so they are easily drived and don't "compete" with my main speakers actually gave me a very good effect. And I think the Denon Audissey did a great job blending them properly.

In summary, I am happy with the bouncy guys. I was happy with my 5.2 before, so, the "new" 5.2.4 is basically just one extra "detail" in the movies that just works for me as is. No drilling ceilings or doing complex cable installations. That is a huge plus.

Also, I have some extra speakers to do a 7.2 system, and I tested that, and I honestly don't think 5->7 was an improvement at all. So, at least in my case, 5.2.4 was better then 5.2.0 but 7.2.0 wasn't any as big of a change compared to my 5.2.0.
 
Auditor55

Auditor55

Audioholic Chief
But still require one overhead VOG ceiling speaker.

So if people can install one ceiling speaker, installing a 2nd speaker should not be a big deal. :D
Auro 3D doesn't require the VOG speaker, it's more or less optional, since from Auro's perspective, and rightly so, humans don't perceive that much sound coming from directly above them. As the above poster stated, you have the bed and a second layer of height information.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Auro 3D doesn't require the VOG speaker, it's more or less optional, since from Auro's perspective, and rightly so, humans don't perceive that much sound coming from directly above them. As the above poster stated, you have the bed and a second layer of height information.
If there is very little sound above you, then it’s the same as DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD. There is no reason for Auro3D, Atmos, DTSX.

IOW, if you don’t use at least the HEIGHT speakers above ear level with Auro3D, Atmos, DTSX, then you won’t hear sounds above you effectively.
 
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Jon AA

Jon AA

Audioholic
Please, listen to a good demo before making silly comments like that.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
If there is very little sound above you, then it’s the same as DTS-HD MA and Dolby TrueHD. There is no reason for Auro3D.
Please, listen to a good demo before making silly comments like that.
Fair enough. :D

I do wish Auro3D were ubiquitous like Atmos so that Yamaha would add the feature. But it seems Auro3D is still nonexistent in the US so Yamaha has no reason to add it.

Based on what others have said about Auro3D (mainly @VonMagnum), there is zero chance I would go out of my way to get a new AVP just for Auro3D.

But you are correct, I have not experienced HOME Auro3D. I have seen some movies at Cinemark theaters with Auro3D, but that’s not a fair comparison since I think commercial Atmos also sucks.

My preliminary thoughts about Auro3D (also Atmos/DTSX) is that if you use at least use the Height speakers, then you will get more 3D sound than DTS-HD and TrueHD.

But if you only use the standard 5.1 Bed speakers (not use at least Height) with Auro3D, Atmos and DTSX, then you won’t get any more 3D sound than DTS-HD MA and TrueHD.

So my statement isn’t just about Auro3D, but the same with Atmos and DTSX.

But are you saying that with Auro3D, even if you just use the 5.1 bed speakers and don’t use any Height or Ceiling speakers, you will hear sounds from ABOVE ?
 
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S

sterling shoote

Audioholic General
Auro 3D doesn't require the VOG speaker, it's more or less optional, since from Auro's perspective, and rightly so, humans don't perceive that much sound coming from directly above them. As the above poster stated, you have the bed and a second layer of height information.
Interestingly enough, one of my hobbies today is producing thunder shower relaxation CD's so when I recently heard an Atmos demonstration, which began with rain shower sound effects, I was impressed. The sound of rain "coming down", as made possible via Atmos, made me crave the technology, since it just sounded real. I suppose there are other things which usually sound like they are above us, like helicopters, planes, rockets, fireworks, bursting balloons, and tree limbs swaying in the wind; therefore, Atmos is something I'd like to have; and thus, I will likely buy the 2nd tier Marantz Pre-Pro along with an additional two channel amp and pair of up firing speakers to get the effect.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
Maybe if Auro would release the software to people for free so they can update their equipment to be Auro capable, it would become more utilized in the US. For me, Marantz wants 200 dollars for the firmware upgrade to play something that's hardly even available is ridiculous. Something that they started including for free on the newer models. Don't know who is responsible for the 200 dollar gouging, but one or both of them is definitely screwing people over with this ridiculous charge.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Audioholic
My preliminary thoughts about Auro3D (also Atmos/DTSX) is that if you use at least use the Height speakers, then you will get more 3D sound than DTS-HD and TrueHD.
Ya think?
But are you saying that with Auro3D, even if you just use the 5.1 bed speakers and don’t use any Height or Ceiling speakers, you will hear sounds from ABOVE ?
Of course not. What are you talking about? That would be Auro2D. That's not what we're talking about here. It's not without value though as I find it the best 2D upmixer for 2 channel music (live recorded, classical, etc). But 3D using height speakers adds a lot more.

My actual experience leads to the following simplification (all my opinion, of course):

Movies:
Auro = Dud. Forgetaboutit. Can sound fantastic, but no new movie you want to see will be available in it. Height speakers (without a VOG) not as good as ceiling speakers for movie effects. Upmixer not as good for movies. (One caveat, my unit only has the lower level version of Auro, the Denon 8500, Arcam, etc have a better version of Auro that has a "Movie Mode" for upmixing. I've never tried that, it may be really good for movies but I haven't been able to test it.)

Atmos = Potentially Awesome. Up to the mixers doing the soundtrack for each specific movie. Ceiling speakers are the right choice for movie effects. They've won the format war so basically all new movies are available in it. DSU works well for movies but not as well as Neural:X if you like a lot of height action.

Music:
Auro = Fantastic. Much music available--the most immersive, realistic performances you'll ever hear in a home are native Auro3D. Upmixer works really well for live recorded music. Height speakers are better than ceiling speakers for music.

Atmos = Dud. Ceiling speakers are not very useful for music reproduction. Thus even well done (the ones I've experienced so far) native Atmos music recordings aren't as good as Auro3D. Typically (orchestral type music) sound much better played with the 5.1 track upmixed with Auromatic and height speakers than the native Atmos track. DSU not as good for music upmixing (in my opinion) as it messes with the front soundstage, can "wrap it around you" in ways not intended by the recording, won't utilize front height speakers for orchestral type music very well and is not adjustable.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ya think?

Of course not. What are you talking about? That would be Auro2D. That's not what we're talking about here. It's not without value though as I find it the best 2D upmixer for 2 channel music (live recorded, classical, etc). But 3D using height speakers adds a lot more.

My actual experience leads to the following simplification (all my opinion, of course):

Movies:
Auro = Dud. Forgetaboutit. Can sound fantastic, but no new movie you want to see will be available in it. Height speakers (without a VOG) not as good as ceiling speakers for movie effects. Upmixer not as good for movies. (One caveat, my unit only has the lower level version of Auro, the Denon 8500, Arcam, etc have a better version of Auro that has a "Movie Mode" for upmixing. I've never tried that, it may be really good for movies but I haven't been able to test it.)

Atmos = Potentially Awesome. Up to the mixers doing the soundtrack for each specific movie. Ceiling speakers are the right choice for movie effects. They've won the format war so basically all new movies are available in it. DSU works well for movies but not as well as Neural:X if you like a lot of height action.

Music:
Auro = Fantastic. Much music available--the most immersive, realistic performances you'll ever hear in a home are native Auro3D. Upmixer works really well for live recorded music. Height speakers are better than ceiling speakers for music.

Atmos = Dud. Ceiling speakers are not very useful for music reproduction. Thus even well done (the ones I've experienced so far) native Atmos music recordings aren't as good as Auro3D. Typically (orchestral type music) sound much better played with the 5.1 track upmixed with Auromatic and height speakers than the native Atmos track. DSU not as good for music upmixing (in my opinion) as it messes with the front soundstage, can "wrap it around you" in ways not intended by the recording, won't utilize front height speakers for orchestral type music very well and is not adjustable.
Unless I misunderstood him, I think Auditor55 was implying that Auro3D-without-ceiling-speakers is as effective as Atmos-with-ceiling-speakers for movies.

But you just confirmed (along with what Von said in previous posts) that with Auro3D you won’t get the full effects of movie overhead sounds unless you install overhead speakers, which I think most of us already believe.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
Still slow site response, but I have to respond (having Auro-3D with 11.1.6)

I've played with numerous configurations with or without "top middle" (acting like a dual VOG "middle" in some respects) and also shrinking the room down to effectively half size (moving rear height to "top middle" instead with only side surrounds). Let's call that "small room" with Auro-3D and Atmos and X.

Small room with heights.... Works fine. FULL overhead sound on ceiling. Think of it this way. It will pan between the front/rear heights at whatever height level they're at. If that height level is essentially on the ceiling (even if at 30/150 angles), it still PANS in a straight line across that height "plane" (an inch or two from the ceiling). There is effectively NO DIFFERENCE from "tops" speakers in this size room except that the sounds start next to the screen instead of 1/4 the way out into the room.

Longer room with heights. Once you get past a 120 degree angle (perhaps slightly less or more depending on how tall you are and other factors), the "directly overhead" (90 degree elevation straght up) starts to come apart like you're sitting in a gazebo blocking sound above you. This is what people who think "heights suck" are probably experiencing. Their rooms are too large for height speakers without option #3. the same thing would eventually happen with tops speakers also if you lengthen the room even further (say a 40 foot long room). It's just the angle between the two sets of speakers relative to your ears that limits the phantom imaging directly overhead.

OPTION: Add "Top Middle" speakers. This bridges the distance in either case. It's MORE effective, IMO with heights than tops in most home rooms simply because they need them more. Note that if you mount tops at 45 degrees relative to ONE row of seats, it will always pan fine overhead because the distance apart between the two is small enough to work fine. But you can't cover 4 rows of seats with two sets of ceiling speakers 45 degrees apart. It just won't work. Thus, it's the same problem as the room gets larger. This is why cinema Atmos has many many overhead speakers and why home Atmos has up to TEN speakers overhead (that's enough to cover like 6-12 rows depending on the spacing. You can go further by adding matrixed pairs (20 sets of overheads). That could get you up to 24 rows I think or 10 rows of really comfy recliners).

In any case, heights + top middle (or VOG) = direct overhead sounds work fine. For longer rooms, you will want surround and rear heights (copied) for Auro-3D to give full coverage (same for rear bed surrounds if you don't have a 13.1 Auro capable system). I use my surround heights PLUS the rear heights by extracting the surround heights as a "middle" point (like top middle) instead and that stretches it across the entire room (24 ceiling). Copying the rear height to surround height also works fine for all three rows (sounds pretty good, IMO).

Auro-3D movies handled like THAT are great sounding. Atmos is only slightly better in my room with 11.1.6 (Auro uses 9.1.6 here). With 13.1 Auro, it would sound as good or better than Atmos 7.1.6 up to 9.1.6 as it pretty much covers the same range (plus the options of center height and VOG to "lock" the sound into place for off-axis rows (something Atmos CANNOT do!)

Auro-3D music doesn't use direct overhead much (most music albums don't employ the VOG channel) and even with an extracted top middle, little goes up there. They're just not mixed (or recorded in the case of dual-quad miked recordings) that way. I mean how many instruments are on the ceiling in a concert hall?

Even some true Auro-3D movie mixes (like Death Machine) have a more "wall of sound" type mix (thunder was directly overhead in that movie, most most other scenes were wall to wall sound instead). Other movies like Flatliners sound JUST LIKE the Atmos version with voices wandering all over the ceiling in pretty much the exact same places!

The other thing I would address is Atmos not being good for music with ceiling speakers. I think this is because some home Atmos systems have "too much separation" between bed and overhead speakers. You get the same kind of gap mid-wall as you get with heights directly overhead if there's too much distance to the ceiling (e.g. a 10 foot ceiling might have issues with ear level speakers at 3.5 feet or something; I can't be sure of the exact numbers needed since I haven't heard them in person, but at some distance it will do that. You'll have ear level and overhead and little in-between. With heights and ear level, you typically have a nice smooth transition between the layers to the point where you can't tell where one ends and the other begins assuming the speakers match well. But then you might have the direct overhead issue without top middle added so....

The bottom line is that "perfect" Atmos needs more than 11-speakers in a larger room. For small rooms, 11 is probably enough for a nice ear to ceiling bubble, but then in that sized room heights and tops will both work. As the room gets larger, you have to pick between priority with that many speakers (strong overhead or smooth transition with full ceiling coverage). Add more speakers and you don't have to compromise.

The full ceiling is another matter. If you go with tops in a 24' long room like mine, you end up using only 12' of the ceiling! (25% to 75%). That's only HALF the ceiling! (compared to the entire length of the floor). Think about it. You've got front, side and rear speakers in 7.1 beds (and front wides in 9.1 plus an extra side surround in 11.1) to cover that entire 24' length. Now you want to cover the entire ceiling with only 4 speakers? It won't work! So to get the strong overhead, you cut out half the ceiling to get around it! But add top middle with front heights and you get the FULL 24' length with smooth imaging (not counting the "special" center speaker case, it's then even again! 6 bed and 6 overhead! You now have a helicopter that can circle high or low or anywhere in-between without limits. Using only tops, it can only fly 1/2 the ceiling! That's why I went with 6 overhead. The helicopter sounds pretty much identical at bed level (you can do this shutting off overheads and playing the same demo) and ceiling level here. It circles the ENTIRE 24' room length! That's the way to go, IMO.

We need more AVR/AVPs to support it (unfortunately locked Atmos is a problem; DTS:X Pro will soon solve it for everything else on models supporting 13+ channels).
 
B

Bjornutgard

Audiophyte
Interesting opinion piece! I recently added surround and center speakers, along with a subwoofer, to my stereo music setup and couldn't find any AV receiver combining 4K and the latest video processing with 5.1 capability. 5.1 is sufficient for my needs and neither upfiring nor ceiling mounted speakers would get approved by my dear boss.. ;-) would rather have had better components for 5 than 7 channels amplified, all else equal.
 
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