A little over a year ago, I began experimenting with ways to expand my Dolby Atmos surround sound system to beyond the 7.1.4 limitation of current consumer hardware. My continued quest to achieve the best Atmos experience at home has recently driven me to make additional upgrades. These days, my home theater is so crazily complicated that I actually need to run three A/V receivers simultaneously to manage all my speakers.
In most home theaters, 7.1.4 channels of sound should be plenty enough. Even though the Atmos format (as well as its competitor, DTS:X) can support additional speakers, there hasn’t been much demand for that from consumers or much push from manufacturers to do it. Currently, only boutique high-end products such as the $37,000 Trinnov Altitude 32 will decode more than 11 channels at once.
Nonetheless, for some of us, a limit of four height channels isn’t enough to fill the top of the room with sound. My own home theater is a long room with a lot of space behind my seats. That, combined with a low ceiling, makes it difficult for just four speakers (two in the front of the room and two in the back) to image a sound above my head convincingly. This issue is compounded by the fact that the locations where I had installed speakers when I built the home theater (before immersive audio was a concern I gave any thought to) were less than ideal for Atmos. Those speakers are now fixed in place with wiring through the walls and ceiling, and I can’t move them without remodeling the room. That simply isn’t an option.
The better solution is to install additional speakers in the center between the other height channels (Top Middle position). Unfortunately, the asking price for that Trinnov processor is absurdly beyond my budget. I needed to find a way to jury-rig a similar effect for a fraction of the cost.
(Video) Dolby Atmos Beyond 7.1.4 - Where to next?
The First Attempt
I wrote an article last year explaining how I had cobbled together a convoluted system (jokingly dubbed “Zatmos”) utilizing a second A/V receiver to derive extra channels on my ceiling. I advise reading that piece to understand the basic concept of how such a thing is possible.
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Even at the time, I was not the only person experimenting with this, and I knew that my Zatmos system was not as ideal as I would have liked it. Over at AVSForum, a member named Scott Simonian had gone even further to use a total of three A/V receivers in unison to create a 7.1.6 configuration (affectionately known as “Scatmos”) more accurate to the intentions of the original Dolby Atmos sound mixers.
For a while, I decided not to go that far. The complexity of installing, connecting and configuring three A/V receivers seemed like overkill to me. I felt that the results I had with Zatmos were good enough to get me most of the way there, and I had a certain amount of egotistical pride that I’d figured out a way to do it with just one extra receiver rather than two.
However, in recent months, my attitude changed and I grew less satisfied with the Zatmos configuration. Eventually, I knew that if I was going to do this, I needed to do it right.
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Going Full Scatmos
The silly Zatmos and Scatmos nicknames can be more formally grouped under the heading of “Dolby Atmos Extended.” I want to be clear here that I did not develop the Scatmos process. Credit for that goes to Scott Simonian and others at AVSForum who helped him work it out. With his permission, I’m just trying to explain it here.
For as perhaps ridiculously complicated as they may be to install, one of the saving graces of these experiments is that they can be assembled relatively inexpensively. Although your primary A/V receiver must be a Dolby Atmos (or DTS:X) model capable of decoding 7.1.4 channels of sound from a Blu-ray or UHD immersive audio soundtrack, the secondary receivers don’t need to be nearly as fancy. Any receiver that has, at a minimum, Dolby ProLogic II processing will do. (If using multiple secondary receivers, I recommend that they be identical to each other.)
With a little patience while monitoring For Sale ads on my local Craigslist, I managed to pick up a pair of used Marantz SR4400s for well below $100 each. This is a no-frills, entry-level (or close to it) Dolby Digital/DTS model from 2003. It’s so basic that it doesn’t even have an on-screen menu system. I have to set it up using only the front panel display. The receiver doesn’t have HDMI and cannot handle lossless Dolby TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio signals, but it doesn’t need to. All it needs is a pair of analog stereo inputs (which any receiver will have) and ProLogic II.
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The simple act of finding a place to put another A/V receiver in my system proved to be far more of an ordeal than I wanted. Because I didn’t have enough space for it on my main equipment shelf, I had to remove all my components, take the shelf apart, rearrange the levels, put most of the equipment back, and hook it up again. Then I had to do the same thing with the second shelf in order to add a level. My Blu-ray and HD DVD players, which had previously been on the main shelf, moved over to the second so that I could keep all the audio equipment together where the speaker wire will reach it. This, in itself, was a tremendous pain to do.
(Video) 4K Home Theater Tour! 7.1.4 ATMOS PLEX UNRAID!
With that finished, here’s the basic idea behind Scatmos: You want to mount six ceiling speakers – in the Top Front, Top Middle and Top Rear positions. (The following sketch does not represent my personal speaker layout, but I’ve drawn it this way to show how it should be done.) Your primary A/V receiver will be set to decode its maximum of 7.1.4 channels, configured as Top Front and Top Rear.
All four of the height channels should be routed to the analog pre-out connections on the primary AVR. You should not attach any speaker wire to those channels on the primary AVR. For all of the height channels, speaker wire will be attached only to the secondary AVRs.
The pre-outs for the Top Front Left and Top Rear Left channels will go into the Right and Left stereo inputs on AVR 2.
(Video) Trinnov Altitude Processors: Breaking the 7.1.4 Surround Barrier
The pre-outs for the Top Front Right and Top Rear Right channels will go into the Left and Right (reversed from AVR 2) stereo inputs on AVR 3.
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If that sounds confusing already, trying to keep it straight while actually connecting the cables and wires can be truly daunting. I strongly recommend drawing a chart that shows what should go where.
When working properly, each of the secondary downstream AVRs should take a stereo signal consisting of part Front and part Rear, and matrix a Middle channel between them using any mono information in common to both (much as ProLogic II would extract a center channel for dialogue in the front of your room between your left and right speakers under normal circumstances). Thus you get six channels of height information from an original four.
(Video) My 2021 7.1.4 Home Theater & Audiophile Stereo System!
That’s the theory, simplified to its most basic elements. Actually getting it to work properly after your connections are made has some added levels of difficulty that I’ll cover soon in Part 2.
Read Part 2
1. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 on Amazon|Raalmak
2. 747 DEMO DOLBY ATMOS 7.1.4
3. Dolby Atmos Object Demo on 7.1.4 Speakers - 360 Spatial Audio
4. The 5 best Dolby Atmos Movie Scenes to Test your System
5. Nakamichi Shockwafe Pro 7.1.4 Channel 600W Dolby Atmos Soundbar with 8 Wireless Subwoofer
6. New Heights in my Atmos Studio (Thanks Billie)
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Expert-Verified Answer. The sound is deeper and more precise with Dolby Atmos than with conventional Surround 7.1 systems due to the addition of overhead sound and superior calibration software. Developed by Dolby Laboratories, Dolby Atmos is a surround sound system.Is Dolby Atmos on Apple music good? ›
For movies and TV shows, it is absolutely superb. Whenever I use my AirPods Pro or AirPods Max in conjunction with my Apple TV, the head tracking and completely un-headphone-like sound reproduction never fail to amaze me.Is Atmos Music the future? ›
The Future of Dolby Atmos
And even more immersive and engaging experience for music fans. Dolby Atmos is the future of music and sound. It's providing an immersive and engaging experience for music listeners and musicians alike.
A 7.1 system adds left and right rear surround speakers. A 9.1-channel system adds front height speakers to take advantage of Dolby Pro Logic® IIz, which derives height information from the signal. Dolby Atmos layouts add height speakers to the traditional 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups.What is higher than Dolby Atmos? ›
The higher the bit rate, the better. You'd think that Dolby Atmos, being the more widely known brand name, would be the one with the higher bit rate. However, it's DTS:X has the higher bit rate. Dolby Atmos delivers a slower bit rate.Which Dolby Atmos mode is best? ›
Dolby Atmos - use Music mode at all times
Auto sometimes made my music / movies sound honky, with a slight bump in the mids. Movie and Voice modes have a weird mid scoop, which makes audio sound a bit "hollow" to me. Music seemed to be the best out of the bunch — and for every type of media, too.
How can I see if a song is available in Dolby Atmos? Play the song, then check for the Dolby Atmos badge in Now Playing. If every song on an album is available in Dolby Atmos, you'll see the Dolby Atmos badge on the album's detail page. Some songs are available in Dolby Atmos only on a particular version of an album.Why does Dolby Atmos sound muffled? ›
With Dolby Atmos Music, however, this is also the case although it shouldn't be. The sound gets is filtered to add the threedimensional effect, making the singer sound further away than he or she actually is. That's exactly what you can read in many comments: The vocals sound somehow muffled and far away.What's better lossless or Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology, while lossless means that track was compressed without any data loss - tracks have higher bitrate, so they should sound better on supported devices than standard AAC, MP3 or any other tracks with lossy compression I guess.Should I listen to music with Dolby Atmos? ›
With Dolby Atmos Music, the experience is better. Artists can create soundscapes that are much more seamless and compelling. They can precisely place sound “objects” in your listening space and engage your imagination by moving the objects around. Immersive music is now more affordable, too.
You can currently experience Dolby Atmos with select Blu-rays and through an array of streaming platforms ... and that includes Netflix.Is Dolby Atmos the highest quality? ›
Both DTS and Dolby Atmos are top of the line sound systems that are made to get the most out of your home theater with surround sound. DTS does offer a higher sound bitrate, but the two are identical.Is Dolby Atmos 7.1 or Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos takes Dolby's traditional 5.1 and 7.1 surround sound setups a step further by adding a third, overhead dimension. You're no longer constrained to a stereo system or standard six- or seven-channel arrangement.Which is better Dolby Digital or Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos is an upgraded version of Dolby Digital 5.1, which means Atmos is way better than the 5.1 version. They can offer different sound qualities and surround sound.What is the maximum Dolby Atmos? ›
The first-generation cinema hardware, the "Dolby Atmos Cinema Processor", supports up to 128 discrete audio tracks and up to 64 unique speaker feeds. The technology was initially created for commercial cinema applications, and was later adapted to home cinema.Do you need HDMI 2.1 for Dolby Atmos? ›
You're in luck — all you need is a single HDMI cable to connect your TV and soundbar enabled with Dolby Atmos (HDMI 2.0 for ARC should do the trick while HDMI 2.1 is necessary for eARC setups). This is the simplest option and will send audio directly from your TV to your soundbar.Which is better Dolby Atmos or Laser Atmos? ›
IMAX with laser vs Dolby Cinema is just a difference between the screen size and audio plus visual quality. IMAX with laser has a much bigger screen compared to Dolby Cinema, but Dolby comes out on top with crisper images, higher resolution and more impressive audio.How can I make my Dolby Atmos sound better? ›
To get the best Atmos experience with your TV, you should send the audio output to a soundbar or AV receiver. For this, you will need an HDMI ARC connection and Dolby Digital Plus audio support.Can you tell the difference with Dolby Atmos? ›
How does Atmos compare to surround sound? The biggest difference between Dolby Atmos and traditional surround sound is the use of channels. Audio over conventional surround sound is mostly referred to as 5.1 (five speakers, one subwoofer) or 7.1 (seven speakers, one subwoofer) channels.What is the difference between true Dolby Atmos and Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby TrueHD is a lossless audio codec with support for up to 7.1 audio channels and is used with Blu-ray Discs. No major streaming platforms use it. Dolby Atmos is a 3D surround sound technology that allows sounds to be placed anywhere in a 3D environment.
Like, it's a night/day difference in terms of max volume compared to standard. As soon as I enable Atmos, songs get so much quieter. Switch it off, and you can hear “real” full volume again. is a perfect example of this.How do you know if you're actually getting Dolby Atmos sound? ›
The one surefire way to confirm Dolby Atmos is working is to check the information panel on the front of your AV receiver or your soundbar (if it has one, or perhaps an on-screen display). It should display the kind of audio signal it's currently working with.Is Dolby Atmos lossless? ›
Dolby Atmos averages around 6,000 kbps when a 48kHz sampling rate is used. But Atmos can be encoded losslessly at up to 24-bit/192kHz, which results in bit rates that can soar as high as 18,000 kbps.Does Dolby Atmos improve music quality? ›
' Dolby Atmos is an improvement on what came before and a leap forward from surround sound. It's ultimately designed to put you in the center of it all when watching movies or listening to music to give you the most immersive sound possible.Does speakers matter for Dolby Atmos? ›
Most conventional overhead speakers with wide dispersion characteristics will work in a Dolby Atmos home theater. Dolby Atmos audio is mixed using discrete, full-range audio objects that may move around anywhere in three-dimensional space.Why does Apple music sound better? ›
Apple Music uses the company's own Apple Lossless Audio Codec for streaming. Every available track is at least Lossless, which is what the service calls files ripped at 16-bit/44.1 kHz. That's CD quality. They also offer Hi-Res Lossless, encoded at better-than-CD rates (up to 24-bit/192 kHz).Can you have lossless and Dolby Atmos at the same time? ›
Apple Music Lossless is a stereo (2 channel) version of the track encoded with Apple's technology; Dolby Atmos is a multichannel (more than 2 channels) version of the track encoded with Dolby's technology. Therefore there is no way to have both at once.Why does Apple music sound better than Spotify? ›
Despite being a laggard in adopting better sound quality, Spotify has been working on adding lossless audio support in a dedicated plan called Spotify HiFi since 2021. Apple Music beats Spotify on streaming quality as it supports up to 24-bit/192kHz, making it one of the best music streaming services for audiophiles.Who is Google Dolby Atmos competitor? ›
One of Atmos's prominent competitors is Sony's 360 Reality Audio, but another may be on the way… from Google. Tech site Protocol reported that Google is developing two new 'open media' formats for 3D audio and HDR video under the working title of 'Project Caviar'.What is the bitrate of Dolby Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos audio in Dolby Digital Plus is typically encoded at bitrates between 384 and 768 kbps.
Dolby Atmos Up-Mixes
The average price for a Dolby Atmos up-mix of an existing stereo mix is $150. Atmos up-mixes are mastered and ready for release.
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- Don't Know Why. Norah Jones. ...
- jealousy, jealousy. Olivia Rodrigo. ...
- Tom Sawyer. Rush. ...
- Riders on the Storm (New Stereo Mix) The Doors. ...
- BOOM. TiëstoSevennGucci Mane. ...
- Oxytocin. Billie Eilish.
Atmos Music sources
As of March 2023, your options are Apple Music, Tidal, and Amazon Music. Apple Music and Amazon Music include Dolby Atmos Music tracks in their standard tiers, while Tidal requires a more expensive HiFi Plus subscription.
Dolby Atmos for Headphones will work with any headphones, since the software still outputs to just two channels to simulate sound from all directions.Does Amazon Prime have Dolby Atmos? ›
Amazon Prime Video offers Dolby Atmos as part of its standard subscription. To fully experience Dolby Atmos, you need to first make sure you are watching a series created in the audio format. Be sure to look for the Dolby Atmos badge on the title pages of your favourite series.Is Netflix Atmos true Atmos? ›
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.Does Disney plus have Atmos? ›
Dolby Atmos® is available all over Disney+ on a range of titles, from classic films to brand new content fresh out from Disney studios or even third-party content. You can enjoy a variety of spatial sound experiences with your Disney+ subscription wherever you are, whenever you like.Is Dolby 7.1 better? ›
Better sound for all seats
Dolby Surround 7.1 increases the impact of surround sound by adding two audio channels. In the process, it improves the spatial dimension of movie audio and enhances overall audio definition for movie soundtracks.
The Dolby Atmos system offers a superior and highly realistic sound experience. With the old channels, sound can only be heard from predetermined locations defined by the speaker setup, not how you would hear it in real life.Is Dolby 7.1 worth it? ›
7.1 Surround Sound Pros and Cons
A 7.1 system is a great choice for larger rooms where sound may get lost in the space. It provides a deeper surround sound listening experience. Theater quality media designed for a 7.1 system will come through clearer than it would on a 5.1 system.
Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology developed by Dolby Laboratories. It expands on existing surround sound systems by adding height channels, allowing sounds to be interpreted as three-dimensional objects with neither horizontal nor vertical limitation.Is Dolby Atmos the best sound? ›
Dolby Atmos is an improvement on what came before and a leap forward from surround sound. It's ultimately designed to put you in the center of it all when watching movies or listening to music to give you the most immersive sound possible.Does Dolby Atmos improve sound quality? ›
Dolby Atmos really makes a difference as it brings a higher sound quality and makes it seem like the sound is coming from all directions. It is the benchmark for theaters, so it makes a huge difference to your home setup.What is the maximum speakers for Dolby Atmos? ›
Figure 10: A traditional 5.1 speaker layout with two Dolby Atmos enabled speakers (5.1. 2). In addition to the typical configurations in the previous section, Dolby Atmos can support more speaker positions, up to a maximum of 34 total (for example, 24.1.How many speakers are required for Dolby Atmos? ›
While two Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, modules, or overhead speakers will deliver a compelling experience, we recommend using four if possible. This will deliver more precisely located and realistic overhead sounds.Is there anything better than 7.1 surround sound? ›
An expensive 5.1 surround system will likely beat a cheap 7.1 system when it comes to sound quality. Secondly, you need to factor in the size of your room.What size room is best for 7.1 surround sound? ›
For medium sized rooms, we recommend a (7.1. 4+) THX Certified Select System which covers spaces up to 2,000 cubic feet in size, with a ~10 foot viewing distance from the screen.What size room is good for 7.1 surround sound? ›
How big is your room? If it's larger than around 350 square feet, consider a 7.1 speaker setup. If it's smaller, a 5.1 may be more appropriate.Do all 4K players support Atmos? ›
As long as the Blu-ray player supports Dolby TrueHD and bitstream audio, it can output Dolby Atmos audio. The soundbar or AV receiver and the Blu-ray disc must also be Dolby Atmos-enabled. If the Blue-ray disc is not Dolby-compatible, it might support DTS, a good alternative.Is HBO Max 4K Atmos? ›
For $9.99, you'll get two concurrent ad-supported streams at HD quality. For $15.99, you'll lose the ads and be allowed to download up to 30 pieces of content at a time, but you'll no longer get access to 4K. Finally, for $19.99, you'll get 4K with HDR and Dolby Atmos, four concurrent streams, and up to 100 downloads.
You can watch Netflix in Dolby Atmos audio on select TV shows and movies. You need: A Netflix plan that supports streaming in Ultra HD. A Netflix-capable device that can play Dolby Atmos.