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
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
There's no right or wrong when it comes to entertainment preferences. People like what they like. :D
Well only speaking for myself, but blow in insulation and crawling around on scissor trusses was a PITA but again, for ME totally worth it. Is so it again. You can laugh all you want about the new life people find in their old movies, but you’re basing your laughter on what? Al the times you’ve been disappointed with DSU or dtsnx? IMO it does depend on how good the track is in the first place but both upmixers do a very nice job of creating immersive experiences that are sometimes better than real Atmos or DTSX tracks.

As for music with DSU, or dtsnx, I’ve found that they place instruments in random places far less than PLIIx ever did.(but I did like PLIIx very much in general) Ime it they tend to give more sense of space and scale. It’s not like there’s a brass section overhead while the strings are up front with guitars in back etc.
No I'm not laughing at you, but I've tried the artificial multi channel music with many configurations, and all it does is degrade the intended soundstage and muddy up the clarity of the music. I can play music on up to 13 speakers if I want, but none of those various amounts of speakers improve the sound quality, and most decrease the quality. Sometimes if I'm using Front Wide speakers in addition to the stereo speakers it can improve & widen the sound stage. And a good stereo setup does immerse you in the music as good or better than any artificial setup. People listening to music at my house always think their listening to surround sound even though its Stereo. Because when properly setup, nothing is better than hearing it the way it was intended. And to your point, I have heard instruments coming directly from other locations than the front sound stage when in a fake surround mode, and to me it sounds silly. But hey, some people think putting their entire 5.1 setup on their TV, and setting it to play in DSP Bathtub mode sounds good, so to to each his own,. Enjoy your system.
 
C

Cdx

Audioholic Intern
How hard are you looking? Most of the receivers we use here are available in Europe and basically all the high end ones have Auro. Most of my discs have shipped direct from Germany or the UK, so if I can find them from here....
If you never knew it existed, you still wouldn't know.

Marantz only has Auro at the upper end, but the Denon range has a few more compatible receivers. So if you happen to hear about it, then actually find a compatible receiver, then you still have to pay for it. Onkyo doesn't seem to have any compatible receivers (I know that Onkyo, Marantz, Marantz are same umbrella company). I couldn't find any for Yamaha and likewise Sony. These are the main receiver manufacturers in the UK who also sell all over Europe. Let's say that you find a receiver from Sony, Onkyo or Yamaha that does Auro, I've just looked at their main sites, and it's never mentioned.

The fact that we as enthusiasts know that you can import discs from Germany also proves my point. How many countries in Europe sell Auro discs?.
 
R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
I use NeuralX a lot for DTS/DTS-HD/DD/TrueHD and also for 2Ch video sources. NeuralX tries to emulate DTSX and Atmos.

Most common example is the sound of rain/thunder/aircraft. For 2.0/5.1 sound, NeuralX will put the sound of Rain, Thunder, and Aircraft through the ceiling speakers.

Another example is background music like in dance clubs or any kind of background music. They will play overhead.

One example I've mentioned is the last few minutes finale of "Generation Kill" TV series from HBO. As they play the war footage video that one of the soldiers put together, Johnny Cash's "The Man Comes Arounds" plays overhead.


Some contents sound better than others.

I sold my entire collection of SACD, DVD-Audio, and DTS-CD. Never looked back. These days, I enjoy 2.0 music with either DSU or NeuralX. I think many people prefer DSU for music and NeuralX for movies.

Also, NeuralX and DSU aren't just for overhead sound. They take 2.0 sound and make them 5.1. But they do a much better job than ProLogic-II and DTS Neo.
Actually they can take them higher than 5.1 depending on your setup, but you sold your real multi channel music so you can listen to 2 channel artificially converted back to multi channel? I've tried using NeuralX and other modes for stereo music and found it just reduced the clarity and sound stage. But we all hear differently, and that's probably why they put all those DSP & multi channel modes in receivers. But I do agree, that sometimes those Dolby and DTS-X modes can improve movies. Enjoy your movies/music!
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
No I'm not laughing at you, but I've tried the artificial multi channel music with many configurations, and all it does is degrade the intended soundstage and muddy up the clarity of the music. I can play music on up to 13 speakers if I want, but none of those various amounts of speakers improve the sound quality, and most decrease the quality. Sometimes if I'm using Front Wide speakers in addition to the stereo speakers it can improve & widen the sound stage. And a good stereo setup does immerse you in the music as good or better than any artificial setup. People listening to music at my house always think their listening to surround sound even though its Stereo. Because when properly setup, nothing is better than hearing it the way it was intended. And to your point, I have heard instruments coming directly from other locations than the front sound stage when in a fake surround mode, and to me it sounds silly. But hey, some people think putting their entire 5.1 setup on their TV, and setting it to play in DSP Bathtub mode sounds good, so to to each his own,. Enjoy your system.
I only use either DSU or DTS NeuralX. I don't mess with Front Wide or any other settings.

Again, some contents sound better, some sound worse. It's not one-size-fit-all.

I have a song that actually has Rain as a sound effect and I hear the rain from the ceiling speakers with NeuralX.

Just depends on the contents.

But at the end of the day, whatever sounds best to you is right and it's nobody's business.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Actually they can take them higher than 5.1 depending on your setup, but you sold your real multi channel music so you can listen to 2 channel artificially converted back to multi channel? I've tried using NeuralX and other modes for stereo music and found it just reduced the clarity and sound stage. But we all hear differently, and that's probably why they put all those DSP & multi channel modes in receivers. But I do agree, that sometimes those Dolby and DTS-X modes can improve movies. Enjoy your movies/music!
Back when I was into DSD SACD, DVD-A, DTS-CD, I usually preferred plain 2.0. That's the reason I sold everything. I didn't see the point of MCH music.

But now that I have NeuralX and DSU (not any other sound effects), I actually prefer music with NeuralX and DSU.

It's ironic.

Sometimes I still prefer 2.0 over anything else. Just depends.

Also note that not every system will sound the same or as good using NeuralX or DSU. Same with Atmos, DTSX, and Auro3D.

So just because a song sounds great with DSU or NeuralX in one system, doesn't mean it will also sound great in every system.

At the end of the day, we all want crystal clear detailed sound with the level of bass we prefer. Other sounds (like overhead sounds) are just a little extra. If these extra sounds are an adverse effect to the overall SQ, then I'm sure people would turn them off instantly.

But again, not all NeuralX and DSU will sound the same.
 
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R

RichW

Audioholic Intern
I only use either DSU or DTS NeuralX. I don't mess with Front Wide or any other settings.

Again, some contents sound better, some sound worse. It's not one-size-fit-all.

I have a song that actually has Rain as a sound effect and I hear the rain from the ceiling speakers with NeuralX.

Just depends on the contents.

But at the end of the day, whatever sounds best to you is right and it's nobody's business.
Your right everyone has their own likes. But when I play a song like The Doors, Riders on the Storm, I hear the rain in the whole room like natural rainfall in just pure direct stereo mode. If your hearing it come from a specific location overhead, than that's less than ideal. And front wide is not just a setting, you have to have a receiver capable with the added channels and Audacy, NueralX, DTSX, and more will utilize those extra channels. Most receivers no longer even offer those extra channels. Enjoy your system!
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Your right everyone has their own likes. But when I play a song like The Doors, Riders on the Storm, I hear the rain in the whole room like natural rainfall in just pure direct stereo mode. If your hearing it come from a specific location overhead, than that's less than ideal. And front wide is not just a setting, you have to have a receiver capable with the added channels and Audacy, NueralX, DTSX, and more will utilize those extra channels. Most receivers no longer even offer those extra channels. Enjoy your system!
What's "ideal" in one room or system isn't the same in another room or system. I mean the song will not sound the same in every room.

Also what's "ideal" to one person is the same to another person. :D

What sounds great in one room may not sound great in another room.
 
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2

2channel lover

Audioholic Field Marshall
Right, designing your new home to have an optimal Atmos setup and pre-wired is probably the best way to go, and an additional money maker for the builders. Where I live in, builders do put in surround speakers and wiring for 5 channels, and you can probably get as many channels installed as you want. But just be sure that you do the design, and determine the types of wiring and speakers to be used in the build. I've seen many pre-installed surround setups where the builder just used cheap intercom grade speakers places anywhere, and telephone cord for the wiring. And laid out in a totally worthless surround setup because the people didn't make the proper requests for the setup before it was built.
The best one that I worked for or was familiar with...he was a small semi-custom builder, about 40 homes a year...(I worked for others where 40 units was a decent month).

When we got to the low voltage part, the home owner had wiring options for the family room surround sound, and they had X amount of funds (credits) to spend at this predetermined installer/retailer for equipment...the same as the kitchen appliances, etc. There was no atmos back then, but there was 5.1 and a lot of his home buyers took advantage. The homes were in the $400-$600s and he would give you about $2000 but that's a pretty good headstart if you want to pay additional and get next level equipment which many buyer did.

The larger builders I worked would do the wiring part, but that's as far as it went and that's only if you asked.
 
2

2channel lover

Audioholic Field Marshall
I’m very lucky to have built my home. I designed the LR to accommodate 5.1 not knowing that I’d later add 2 more subs and 4 speakers in my ceiling. All the wires running to the back of the room are tucked in under the base trim, and between carpet seems and invisible. The front of the room can always use tidying up, but it’s definitely better than when I was a teenager with a quad setup and 11pc drum kit in my room. But I digress...
Anyway, I can definitely see where it’s just not worth the hoops and hurdles for for many people. For me though, it’s the pursuit of getting the best I can afford, and am willing to work for. I don’t mind spending hours tucking wires, or playing spider man up in scissor trusses to wire my Atmos speakers, or countless REW sweeps to get bass just right. Someday I might not give a damn, and will be happy with my “antique” Atmos setup and not pursue anything newer. Damn, I hope not. My system is definitely NOT be all end all, but I can say I do enjoy the immersive tech, and especially that it transforms my older films into something new and fun. Here’s a random pic of the front end, for fun.
Nice.

In this part of the country the population was exploding and new construction was booming...so you built one stay in for 5 - 10 years, cash out and put the equity into a larger home...so we've had a few homes and all but one we we built.

The last one we downsized, and we like this house the most...I joked my next home will be a pine box... :) .

I was pretty excited because I was finally getting that one level living we wanted...this one had a bonus room up over the garage that is an office, but also a open area they termed "loft", a bedroom and a full bath. As we're walking the house at the framing stage my wife was fine with where I wanted my surround sound.

We walked in one that was already sheetrocked a week later...that went out the window...not even a TV in this room where I thought my surround sound was going. The truth was, she was right, it wasn't a great TV room at all when you think about room flow, engaging with guest when you're in the kitchen. She said "that area" upstairs seems like the good place for your "speakers and stuff".

Initially I was upset about this...I wasn't looking forward to stairs as a norm. But once I went up there and look at in more detail...I embraced it and glad I did...practically my own suite with an office. The only real pre-drywall stuff I did specific to the HT was the loft space had a 15 amp breaker...I had them upgrade it to a homerun 20 amp, and added another 15 amp and put 2 receptacles close together on the TV wall

I started learning about atmos around the time the house was drywalled...I knew I had attic space above, my thinking was why not?
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Audioholic
I think many of us think height speakers (above head, not overhead) work fine for Atmos.
And many disagree. Front heights are often referred to as "nearly worthless" for Atmos by some who have them, the sound largely getting masked by the LCR. This is largely room/setup dependent, of course. But most people won't be able to get them anywhere near the 45 degrees that is optimum for an Atmos movie with only four overheads. It's currently not even listed by Dolby as an accepted layout. The layouts they approve with heights as low as 20 degrees are for .6 or .8 systems that have top middles in the ceiling. This actually makes it similar in that regard to Auro where a VOG speaker is really helpful for movies.

For music, I feel the opposite is the case--the front heights are where it's at. Much of the sound you hear coming from an orchestra, for example, is coming from above it. Above it, not you. It's still coming from in front of you but it has height, scale. The "wall of sound" provided by the LCR and front heights replicates this scale fantastically.
 
Jon AA

Jon AA

Audioholic
No I'm not laughing at you, but I've tried the artificial multi channel music with many configurations, and all it does is degrade the intended soundstage and muddy up the clarity of the music. I can play music on up to 13 speakers if I want, but none of those various amounts of speakers improve the sound quality, and most decrease the quality.
It sounds like you haven't tried Auromatic or Logic 7. Of the three current upmixers, Auromatic messes with the front soundstage the least.

It depends upon what music you listen to as well. A good live classical 2 channel recording has material in it already that is supposed to come from around you. The ambient/reflections/reverb of the venue are mixed into this recording out of phase so when played by your two speakers it'll fool your brain into thinking that sound is coming from around you. An upmixer can put those sounds around you making them sound much more real. If all you listen to is studio recorded popular music, then yes, the upmixers aren't going to make much of an improvement.
 
C

Cdx

Audioholic Intern
And many disagree. Front heights are often referred to as "nearly worthless" for Atmos by some who have them, the sound largely getting masked by the LCR. This is largely room/setup dependent, of course. But most people won't be able to get them anywhere near the 45 degrees that is optimum for an Atmos movie with only four overheads. It's currently not even listed by Dolby as an accepted layout.
I can only speak on my experience. For me front heights were so good that I didn't realise that it could get better. At least until I heard certain Atmos demos which highlighted their limitations. For films, my front heights worked very well. Now my speakers are up-firing and the more I read and talk to others, the more I realise that (for obvious reasons) the characteristics are different. Two up-firing speakers set up even close to correctly do make an obvious difference. Of course I now have four and realise what I was missing, but 2 was still great.
 
Stanton

Stanton

Audioholics Contributing Writer
I think Atmos is a positive step for home audio...when it is "done right". How can a movie like Gravity sound so good when another (even newer mix) like Solo (or nearly any Disney Atmos mix) doesn't? Moreso than other formats, it seems as though an Atmos mix is highly dependent on the skill/effort put into it. Having said all that, I still prefer to listen to music in it's natural stereo mode.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Spartan
I think Atmos is a positive step for home audio...when it is "done right". How can a movie like Gravity sound so good when another (even newer mix) like Solo (or nearly any Disney Atmos mix) doesn't? Moreso than other formats, it seems as though an Atmos mix is highly dependent on the skill/effort put into it. Having said all that, I still prefer to listen to music in it's natural stereo mode.
I also think k it’s interesting that I’ve seen the title article cited other places online. It’s been referred to as very negative and biased against Atmos. No reference to the commentary below it though.
 
D

DBlank

Audiophyte
In order to do Atmos properly, you need a good sized room with proper treatment, especially with the low frequencies in the 30hz to 50hz range. if you don't, then you're in trouble. You may not be able to hear the dialog because those low frequencies are too powerful and mask the rest of the soundtrack because those low frequencies are too powerful and they can overcome the mid's and high's.

It's very expensive to treat that low end range because you need the right treatment, but you may need a lot of it depending on the number and size of the subs (LF drivers) you are using and the size of the room and the SPL you want to push. Yes, there are companies that will do it, but it does get expensive, so it's a good thing to talk to some of these companies before you dive in with the system because you might be getting too much gear for the size room that you have and you may not have enough room to treat it, and you may not have a big enough budget to get the proper treatment for your room. Just because you have an Atmos system doesn't mean your room can handle the SPL of all of the low frequency pressure you're putting into it.

Always remember, that the room contributes to the amount of distortions you hear, and with small rooms each room, depending on the dimensions, will only allow you to push your system so much before those distortions become unbearable.
 
C

Cdx

Audioholic Intern
In order to do Atmos properly, you need a good sized room with proper treatment, especially with the low frequencies in the 30hz to 50hz range. if you don't, then you're in trouble. You may not be able to hear the dialog because those low frequencies are too powerful and mask the rest of the soundtrack because those low frequencies are too powerful and they can overcome the mid's and high's.

It's very expensive to treat that low end range because you need the right treatment, but you may need a lot of it depending on the number and size of the subs (LF drivers) you are using and the size of the room and the SPL you want to push. Yes, there are companies that will do it, but it does get expensive, so it's a good thing to talk to some of these companies before you dive in with the system because you might be getting too much gear for the size room that you have and you may not have enough room to treat it, and you may not have a big enough budget to get the proper treatment for your room. Just because you have an Atmos system doesn't mean your room can handle the SPL of all of the low frequency pressure you're putting into it.

Always remember, that the room contributes to the amount of distortions you hear, and with small rooms each room, depending on the dimensions, will only allow you to push your system so much before those distortions become unbearable.
If we really had to do all that to do Atmos "properly" then it would have been dead on arrival.
 
VonMagnum

VonMagnum

Senior Audioholic
it would be news to me if we had any ability to slow your access. We can block you but not slow you down.
Well, it's a hell of a coincidence this started right after the owner voted my post "dumb" in that thread about the subwoofer article. It does it on every browser and on my phone as well (not the ISP apparently) and the site goes full speed normal if I log out. Just hitting reply here it sat with the 'busy' indicator for 20 seconds and then said error and to try again later. I clicked it again, this time 15 seconds later it quoted your post. It's been like that since that day and again it does the same on my phone as well (Windows phone so totally different browser/system from my Mac system using Chrome and Firefox. I tried Safari too. Same thing. Works fine until I log in and then it's slowed to a crawl. If that was unintentional, the timing was perfect. The site becomes literally unusable for me so I don't bother to read it or reply and the owner can say he didn't ban me, yet get the same result. All over a difference of opinion on subwoofer placement? Whatever. Regardless of the cause, it's achieved the same effect. I can't use my account in any sensible manner any longer so I no longer visit with any frequency whatsoever.
 
rabidsquirrel

rabidsquirrel

Audiophyte
IMO ~ Atmos has been a step forward.

Background - I'm a 40 something tech savvy individual with audiophile hearing that is not an audiophile per se. In other words, I appreciate quality audio, but I've not invested significant resources to produce it on demand. I'm a 'filthy casual' type of audiophile I guess, to borrow terminology from the gamers.

Current 'filthy casual' Home A/V setup:

QN75Q70RAFXZA Samsung - 75" Class - LED - Q70 Series - 2160p - Smart - 4K UHD TV with HDR
XBOX One x (Spotify Streaming)
Sony STR-DN1080
Dayton Audio dayton audio t652-air (Fronts)
Dayton Audio C452-AIR Dual 4-1/2" 2-Way Center Channel Speaker
Logitech z5500 speakers for Atmos effect (Temporary setup - Bouncy House style)
Dayton Audio SUB-1200 12" 120 Watt Powered Subwoofer
Dayton Audio B652-AIR 6-1/2" 2-Way Bookshelf Speaker with AMT Tweeter Pair (Rear Surround Height Mounted)

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.

All that being said, the Atmos effect has been enjoyable to me when watching media that leverages it. It has definitely added a new element at adds to the immersiveness of Atmos media. The effect is borderline subtle with my current room and setup. My wife probably doesn't notice it at all, but I do. I enjoy it.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I think Atmos is a positive step for home audio...when it is "done right". How can a movie like Gravity sound so good when another (even newer mix) like Solo (or nearly any Disney Atmos mix) doesn't? Moreso than other formats, it seems as though an Atmos mix is highly dependent on the skill/effort put into it. Having said all that, I still prefer to listen to music in it's natural stereo mode.
I recently watched S01 of Netflix's "Another Life", which is a low budget Sci-Fi. Even though the budget was low, you could tell that the people doing the Atmos mixing had a blast because they found many ways to make use of the overhead speakers.

Overall, "Another Life" isn't a good show, although both @Gmoney and I liked it plenty. :D

But I think for anyone looking for a good Atmos TV Series to demo, "Another Life" is a good example.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
In order to do Atmos properly, you need a good sized room with proper treatment, especially with the low frequencies in the 30hz to 50hz range. if you don't, then you're in trouble. You may not be able to hear the dialog because those low frequencies are too powerful and mask the rest of the soundtrack because those low frequencies are too powerful and they can overcome the mid's and high's.
I don't think Atmos requires anything special. The salient thing is to manually (with experiment) INCREASE the speaker levels of the Overhead Atmos speakers.

It's the SAME way with the Center speaker dialogue. Often times you just need to increase the speaker levels of the Center speaker.
 

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