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Dolby Sound and Dolby Atmos and How They Differ

Today, Dolby Atmos is a buzz word when shopping for a new soundbar or home theatre system but do you know the differences between Dolby Atmos and Dolby Audio?


Dolby Atmos first came around in 2021 with the release of Pixar's movie Brave which kicked off a new era of 3D sound. So Dolby Atmos takes Dolby's traditional 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups an extra step by adding a third element, overhead dimension. As the name Atmos implies it creates an auditory atmosphere that creates scenic sounds by bouncing the sounds off your ceiling. This results in an environment that is closer to how we actually experience sound by creating a virtual height and side channels. In a nutshell, it tricks your ears into thinking the sound is coming from all around you, left, right and above, instead of just in front of you. When you think about it, it is a pretty cool.

The SONOS Arc featuring Dolby Atmos

The word Dolby can imply a strong sense of great sound, but not all Dolby are alike. For example, Dolby Audio although the name is similar, does not have the same effect. To make more confusing some Dolby Audio products advertise claiming how they can produce cinematic sound with Dolby Audio. Well kind of, but not really.

Dolby Audio is a 2D audio technology that makes subtle enhancements to whatever you're watching. So yes, it generally does make the sound better but not 3D. It automatically adds detail to help you hear dialogue and adjusts the volume so when switching between channels or a quick cut scene the extremes are reduced.

Dolby Atmos although can also be a single soundbar, as stated earlier it does produce a 3D sound effect to make you think the sound is all around you and more true to the word "cinematic" sound, as if you are in an actual cinema. To make Dolby Atmos work effectively every product in the audio chain has to support Dolby Atmos to get the full effect. Everything from the soundbar, the television and the content source. Luckily most streaming services these days support Dolby Atmos, so with the right TV and soundbar, you've got yourself a nice little home cinema setup. Just make sure to place your Dolby Atmos soundbar below and in front of the TV, and clear any paths between the soundbar and the ceiling and accompanying speakers.

Image from the Soundguys


Our SoundWedge retail experience players fully supports Dolby Atmos soundbars and more.

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