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Dolby’s bringing its 64-speaker Atmos cinema surround sound system home

Missing some sound from above? Hardware and films are en route

Dolby’s Atmos experience adds overhead speakers to enhance the “surroundness” of surround sound at cinemas, but the company announced today that it’s coming home in a couple short months.

Atmos debuted in cinemas in 2012, and Dolby’s director of sound research Brett Crockett says his teams have been working on a home solution ever since. Now there’s something on the horizon— whether or not you’re willing to bolt speakers to your ceiling, and even if you’d like to keep parts of your current arrangement. Or, if you want to go the whole hog, opt for a full 64-speaker setup (OK, so there may not be a home cinema receiver capable of outputting that many channels – but in theory it’s possible).

The ultimate setup will require ceiling-mounted speakers, but for those who can’t or won’t place speakers above, Dolby’s partners will sell systems that manipulate the physics of sound waves to recreate the sensation without pesky overhead hardware.

“If you already have speakers that you love, you can choose an add-on, Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker module that complements your existing speakers,” says Crockett in today’s blog post, thus silencing the fears of those who already spent a chunk of change on a home theatre. He says such add-on modules can simply sit atop current speakers.


How big of a bump in immersiveness does Atmos provide? Crockett says that the Godzilla reboot particularly benefits from moments in which you hear the beast roar from above, and that Darren Aronofsky’s Noah has heavy rain sounds dropping in a realistic manner.

What Hi-Fi has a look at some of the early hardware coming this autumn from Onkyo (pictured), Pioneer, and Denon, and most Blu-ray players will support the standard without issue. Atmos-supporting films will hit Blu-ray and streaming services this autumn, with more planned into 2015. Based on the post, we’d wager a guess that those two mentioned films will be early options—with hopefully many more in tow.

[Sources: Dolby Lab Notes via Engadget, What Hi-Fi]

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