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: 27 50.9%
  • Dolby's Home Atmos has overall been good for home audio but has some flaws.

    Votes: 19 35.8%
  • Home Atmos has become a misbegotten mess for home audio.

    Votes: 6 11.3%
  • I don't know what a Dolby Home Atmos is. Help, I am lost and scared!

    Votes: 1 1.9%

  • Total voters
    53
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
That's why after everything is done I bust out the old trusty SPL meter to see where the levels are set. MOST of the time it's spot on, but I've had to make some adjustments here and there to make sure nothing weird happens.
I double check it that way also, and as I say Audysssey seems to get that much right.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
I too have always felt that Audyssey tweaks my surrounds' volumes too low. This is especially noticeable to me when watching the hotel lobby and helicopter rescue scenes in the Matrix where you can hear the bullets whizzing past you and hitting objects behind you.
That is probably the mix rather than your speaker settings.

I have a recording of Laplander Circular drumming and the power from behind equals the front. I would not try that disc unless all speakers are robust and powerful. That disc is a real work out.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Spartan
So all this talk of different mics. Can’t believe nobody at audyssey thought about how to accurately capture what it needs to. It’s not perfect, but I’ve always found spl levels to match very closely. I have bumped them in the past but didn’t keep them that way long, and I hate what Deq does to the surrounds. It also only boosts rear tops/heights and not fronts as they’ve decided they’re in the “rear” sound field. Wtf...
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
If I heard anything from my Atmos speakers that would be amazing since I don't have any! :eek: :p
Oh, you don’t have the Virtual Atmos speakers? :D

That’s the next Atmos feature: Can’t install ceiling speakers like @Auditor55? No problem. Try our new Virtual Atmos speakers! :D
 
Philnick

Philnick

Enthusiast
I too have always felt that Audyssey tweaks my surrounds' volumes too low. This is especially noticeable to me when watching the hotel lobby and helicopter rescue scenes in the Matrix where you can hear the bullets whizzing past you and hitting objects behind you.
Yamaha's YPAO (their room correction routine) allows the user, after the auto routine has been run, to travel a test tone around the room and tweak each channel manually. I would be surprised if Audyssey didn't let you do the same thing.

That's what I was recommending earlier: After running the automation - to set delay times and equalization - then manually travel the test tone around the room and - while facing forward - make sure that the test tone sounds about as loud from each speaker. It usually doesn't take much of a tweak to the quieter channels - a few decibels at most - but it makes the sound field much more realistic.

Before I decided to do that - when I just had a 7.1 system - I found myself walking over to the rear speakers fairly often just to make sure they were actually on.
 
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Auditor55

Auditor55

Audioholic Chief
I too have always felt that Audyssey tweaks my surrounds' volumes too low. This is especially noticeable to me when watching the hotel lobby and helicopter rescue scenes in the Matrix where you can hear the bullets whizzing past you and hitting objects behind you.
Turn your surrounds up.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
You might be right about needing six ceiling speakers for a four row theater. However when I researched this for my room the consensus seemed to be that for most domestic situations four ceiling speakers is optimal.
It's not that they're optimal, but until recently outside a Trinnov, very few AVR/AVP models offered more than 11-channel operation. Thus, it has been born more of necessity than any kind of optimal setup. There are a lot of people excited about the newer 15-channel AVRs that are just now becoming available (outside a Trinnov that costs the price of a mid-sized sedan). More speakers means more precise imaging for more seats in the home theater. Without those speakers, seats that are off-axis won't get as accurate placement of many sounds due to the precedence effect, whereby sounds tend to pull towards the nearest speaker when you're not centered between a given pair. So while your home theater may sound great to you in the primary seat, I think you'll find it sounds quite different if you sit off-center. That is precisely the reason I have front wides and surround#2 speakers in my 3-row home theater. That keeps the surround effects from pulling as much to the left or right and imaging from moving in straight lines over head (keeps them in a circle around all seats). In other words, those speakers aren't actually needed for the MLP, but for the other off-center/off-axis seats.

As for overheads, without top middle, front-to-back overhead effects will similarly pull to the nearest overhead speakers (front-to-back) that you're sitting underneath. So say a sound is meant to be directly overhead in the middle of the room. If you're sitting closer to the front tops speakers, it will image towards those speakers instead of the top of the middle of the room and the opposite for the third row. Only the seats directly in-between will image properly. That is where Top Middle speakers fix the imaging as it creates an anchor point in the middle of the room the same way a center speaker keeps centered screen effects and dialog in the middle of the screen even if you sit to the left or the right. Without it, the dialog will pull towards the left or right speaker depending on whether you're sitting left or right of center between the main speakers.

Thus, the more speakers the better for proper imaging for all seats as the more discrete speakers you have, the less effect the precedence effect has on the imaging for any given seat. Again, this is not for the benefit of the MLP, so if you're the only listener, you don't need them. But if you have a lot of people in your home theater watching movies, those people sitting off-axis aren't getting optimal experiences without more speakers. That is why high-end Atmos home systems offer up to 34 speakers (plus subs).

Now unfortunately most domestic spaces are not really optimal for multi channel audio. It really does require a custom built room for optimal results. Few have that opportunity.
It doesn't "really" require any such thing. A good installer can make many rooms work well. Some will need more work than others. A custom room should probably have the speakers behind a transparent audio screen, for example and hide all the wires, use drop ceilings, etc. to make it classy looking with custom lighting and all that. I've seen some pretty "wow" rooms done this way. That doesn't guarantee they sound "better" than a well done retrofit, however. Moves aren't about watching the drop ceiling back-lit or star fields on the ceiling, however cool it looks.

In practice this has worked out well. The results from the Dolby up mixer has been excellent. I have no complaints with movies, they are terrifyingly realistic. I have never localized to an individual speaker. There seems to be an excellent 360 degree sound field with height illusion.
Something tells me you have also never sat in any seat but the MLP either or you'd notice the 360 degree sound field fall apart for the same Atmos demos. It's not possible to do four rows of seating and maintain the surround field where it should be for every seat with only 11.2 speakers. As soon as you sit off to the left, center height effects will pull to the left top Atmos speaker and surround effects that should travel through the middle of the room will pull to the left side of the room, all due to the precedence effect. That's precisely why the "extra" speakers in Atmos and X exist in the first place.

The other issue in the relatively confined domestic situation is the downside of adding more channels. Even the very best systems make a bit of noise. So as you add channels then you downgrade the S/N of the system. So you have 11 audio channels plus the sub/LFE channels. So at a minimum for a system like this you are going to have 13 amp channels. In this system because of active triamping of two speakers and active biamping of three, the number of amp channels is 18.

Anyway you slice it that is a significant outlay on power amps to say the least, to say nothing of the power bill, space required and the design and implementation of the necessary ventilation.
How odd my 17-channel system manages to work just fine, but then I don't "triamp" speakers (particularly since they are all 2-way speakers to begin with). The way I "slice it" is to not waste money on bourgeois tri-amping and custom ventilation systems (my air conditioning system functions just fine for the entire 12x22x8.5' room). Oddly, I cannot hear any "hiss" from the seating despite 17 channels of operation.

So with the power amps and active crossover on alone, the room is quiet and no improvement in S/N would be required. Add the pre/pro in the mix, and you can just hear noise in a very quiet room. It does not ever intrude in program. However you can see that adding further channels would probably push things over the edge.
Now I think you're just being overly dramatic. If my 17-channel system works fine in a 12'x22'x8.5' room, I don't think even larger rooms would be pushed over the edge. Any hiss decreases the further you sit from a given speaker. They do not all add together evenly.

So I think for the size of a domestic room we are at the realistic limit now, unless we go to more expensive electronics with improved S/N beyond the weighted 100 db.
That is the S/N of each channel in the pre/pro. The power amps are 105 db unweighted, which is why you do not hear them.
Sigh.

Putting 30 or more speakers in a domestic space is just not sensible or practical on any level. Actually it is daft.
Daft? Now you're getting insulting. I know people with maxed out Trinnov systems. They seem to like their systems just fine and don't bugger on about how it shouldn't work because someone out there wants to pat themselves on the back and tell everyone his system is the best it can possibly be which it clearly isn't outside your MLP seat and I can say that with 100% confidence without having heard a bit of it just by your speaker arrangement.

So my view is that 11 audio channels and 2 sub channels works very well indeed for a properly spaced three row cinema. I can see that 13 audio channels might be required for a four row theater. After that you are getting into the realms of professional audio.

I suspect the number of domestic AV rooms of the size of this one is very small and ones greater then 4 rows is likely miniscule.
I suspect someone should have kept their opinions to themselves before they dove into the deep end. Your home theater does not work well with only 11-channels and 3 rows once you sit off-axis. That's a FACT (again without hearing it because I know about the precedence effect and it's clear you do not). Home Atmos is not "professional audio" nor is there some super skill into arranging a room of speakers with given angles offsets. I use 10 speakers plus the center channel which means 36 degrees between speakers would be optimal for an even rendered 360 degree circle. Oddly, Dolby's specs are within a 2 degrees of that using 11-speakers in their 11.1.8 diagram.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
It's not that they're optimal, but until recently outside a Trinnov, very few AVR/AVP models offered more than 11-channel operation. Thus, it has been born more of necessity than any kind of optimal setup. There are a lot of people excited about the newer 15-channel AVRs that are just now becoming available (outside a Trinnov that costs the price of a mid-sized sedan). More speakers means more precise imaging for more seats in the home theater. Without those speakers, seats that are off-axis won't get as accurate placement of many sounds due to the precedence effect, whereby sounds tend to pull towards the nearest speaker when you're not centered between a given pair. So while your home theater may sound great to you in the primary seat, I think you'll find it sounds quite different if you sit off-center. That is precisely the reason I have front wides and surround#2 speakers in my 3-row home theater. That keeps the surround effects from pulling as much to the left or right and imaging from moving in straight lines over head (keeps them in a circle around all seats). In other words, those speakers aren't actually needed for the MLP, but for the other off-center/off-axis seats.

As for overheads, without top middle, front-to-back overhead effects will similarly pull to the nearest overhead speakers (front-to-back) that you're sitting underneath. So say a sound is meant to be directly overhead in the middle of the room. If you're sitting closer to the front tops speakers, it will image towards those speakers instead of the top of the middle of the room and the opposite for the third row. Only the seats directly in-between will image properly. That is where Top Middle speakers fix the imaging as it creates an anchor point in the middle of the room the same way a center speaker keeps centered screen effects and dialog in the middle of the screen even if you sit to the left or the right. Without it, the dialog will pull towards the left or right speaker depending on whether you're sitting left or right of center between the main speakers.

Thus, the more speakers the better for proper imaging for all seats as the more discrete speakers you have, the less effect the precedence effect has on the imaging for any given seat. Again, this is not for the benefit of the MLP, so if you're the only listener, you don't need them. But if you have a lot of people in your home theater watching movies, those people sitting off-axis aren't getting optimal experiences without more speakers. That is why high-end Atmos home systems offer up to 34 speakers (plus subs).



It doesn't "really" require any such thing. A good installer can make many rooms work well. Some will need more work than others. A custom room should probably have the speakers behind a transparent audio screen, for example and hide all the wires, use drop ceilings, etc. to make it classy looking with custom lighting and all that. I've seen some pretty "wow" rooms done this way. That doesn't guarantee they sound "better" than a well done retrofit, however. Moves aren't about watching the drop ceiling back-lit or star fields on the ceiling, however cool it looks.



Something tells me you have also never sat in any seat but the MLP either or you'd notice the 360 degree sound field fall apart for the same Atmos demos. It's not possible to do four rows of seating and maintain the surround field where it should be for every seat with only 11.2 speakers. As soon as you sit off to the left, center height effects will pull to the left top Atmos speaker and surround effects that should travel through the middle of the room will pull to the left side of the room, all due to the precedence effect. That's precisely why the "extra" speakers in Atmos and X exist in the first place.



How odd my 17-channel system manages to work just fine, but then I don't "triamp" speakers (particularly since they are all 2-way speakers to begin with). The way I "slice it" is to not waste money on bourgeois tri-amping and custom ventilation systems (my air conditioning system functions just fine for the entire 12x22x8.5' room). Oddly, I cannot hear any "hiss" from the seating despite 17 channels of operation.



Now I think you're just being overly dramatic. If my 17-channel system works fine in a 12'x22'x8.5' room, I don't think even larger rooms would be pushed over the edge. Any hiss decreases the further you sit from a given speaker. They do not all add together evenly.



Sigh.



Daft? Now you're getting insulting. I know people with maxed out Trinnov systems. They seem to like their systems just fine and don't bugger on about how it shouldn't work because someone out there wants to pat themselves on the back and tell everyone his system is the best it can possibly be which it clearly isn't outside your MLP seat and I can say that with 100% confidence without having heard a bit of it just by your speaker arrangement.



I suspect someone should have kept their opinions to themselves before they dove into the deep end. Your home theater does not work well with only 11-channels and 3 rows once you sit off-axis. That's a FACT (again without hearing it because I know about the precedence effect and it's clear you do not). Home Atmos is not "professional audio" nor is there some super skill into arranging a room of speakers with given angles offsets. I use 10 speakers plus the center channel which means 36 degrees between speakers would be optimal for an even rendered 360 degree circle. Oddly, Dolby's specs are within a 2 degrees of that using 11-speakers in their 11.1.8 diagram.
I do know that my room has an extremely even sound and presentation through out the room. Before lock down we had a full theater on one occasion and I did not take the MLP but an outside rear seat and everything was fine.

In any event this room is largely for music performances and not movies. I especially love to watch a good opera.

Now speakers vary enormously in their imaging and stability of the central image.

All my speakers present a stable central image even outside the two speakers. They do not have trouble creating a seamless field between them. So objects can move smoothly between speakers. I have not noted any localization to one speaker. Since this is largely a music room I do not want an acoustically transparent screen.

This is my second AV room and has very close to optimal dimension ratios.

These are the pictures.

Front



Rear



AV racks, DAW and turntable case.




FR front row. No Audyssey or any EQ. Speakers voice to room by amp leveling and active continuously variable Baffle Step Compensation. All channels driven for each measurement.



Middle row, which is the optimal row.



Back row.



The triamped and biamped speakers are essential to their design.

The effect in the front row is like being in the front stalls, the middle row the mezzanine and the rear a balcony. So you can take your pick.

If you are going to use first class speakers then receivers are going to have to do better then 100 db weighted. It is the pro pro that just has audible background and NOT the power amps and crossovers. They are silent. Now you can only just hear the pre/pro if you listen hard and no other background. It is never intrusive. If you added 20 or so more speakers, I suspect it would be a different story.

I stand by my assertion that you do not need 30 speakers in a room like that. Speakers 6 to 10 ft apart can easily produce a seamless sound field and these do.

Siegfried Linkwitz maintained that having speakers closer than 8' was a very bad thing and advised further spacing. You just get too much inter speaker interference which upset FR. The smoothest FR you can get is really important and too many speakers mitigates against that.
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic Field Marshall
That is probably the mix rather than your speaker settings.
Yamaha's YPAO (their room correction routine) allows the user, after the auto routine has been run, to travel a test tone around the room and tweak each channel manually. I would be surprised if Audyssey didn't let you do the same thing.
Turn your surrounds up.
Geez people, I'm not a blooming idiot. I check it on the Audyssey speaker setting tones and adjust my surrounds so that the levels all match and I usually end up bumping my surrounds by 2 dB or so to bring them in line with everything else.
 
T

Trebdp83

Full Audioholic
Come on people. He’s not a blooming idiot. The bloom has been off that idiot, I mean rose, for some time now.;)
 
D

Dmac6419

Audiophyte
Listen folks they ain't making AVR' s like they used to,so you don't have to break the bank for Atmos, don't fall for boutique no better than consumer off the shelf, probably worse, that said you what Atmos get yourself something entry level and work your way up from there,Oh and Atmos sounds good
 
C

Cdx

Audioholic Intern
No bounce speakers or holes in the ceiling - instead, I hung my 4 overhead speakers just below the ceiling,
I have up-firing speakers and they perform brilliantly in my room. But deepening on the room type I would probably recommend downward firing for most people.
The AVR, like most (maybe all) flagship AVRs - has 11 preamps in addition to the subs but only 9 power amps, so I found a an older AVR of the generation that still had the multichannel analog input used by pre-HDMI DVD-Audio/SACD players, and used it to power all four ceiling speakers, reserving the main AVR's power supply for just the other seven speakers.
That's an interesting idea. If at some point in the future I get separate Atmos modules I might consider doing that.
An important thing is not to trust the auto-room correction about relative speaker levels. Because those systems don't use a forward-facing cardiod microphone, they tell the AVR that the surround speakers - side, rear, and above - are louder than our ears hear them, and thus set those channels too quiet. Let the automation set up time delays and eq, but manually boost each of the surround channels so that they sound as loud as the front channels.
Audyssey sets levels correctly. Those other channels are not supposed to be as loud as the front, on most program. You are creating an incorrect set up.
I find that Audyssey gets the surround levels pretty close to how I want it, but I find that I do have to rebalance my surrounds a little after calibration. The heights always have to be bumped up at least a decibel or two.
the biggest problem with Dolby Atmos in the home is that people simply don't have high enough Ceilings, big enough rooms and enough and proper Acoustic Treatment to handle that many full range channels. You should have ceilings that are at least 12' to preferably 14' high ceilings, and most homes have between 8' and 10' ceilings, because you'll need the room to put low frequency absorption (100hz and lower) otherwise you are going to have a mess and you might have problems hearing the mid range (dialog) with the large special effects of low frequency explosions, etc. Just my observation.
When it comes to Atmos, Audioholics is the old man in the corner shouting that things ain't what they used to be. My ceiling height is just under 8ft. No mess, no problems with mid-range and I get great special effects and low frequency explosions. I got all that before I added DSP.
Listen folks they ain't making AVR' s like they used to,so you don't have to break the bank for Atmos, don't fall for boutique no better than consumer off the shelf, probably worse, that said you what Atmos get yourself something entry level and work your way up from there.
True up to a point. I would still get a half decent Denon/Marantz over the cheap Pioneers that came out recently. At their lowest price point they must be built down to a price.
Oh and Atmos sounds good
It certainly does :)
 
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