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  • andy o
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So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Anyone tried it for home theater? I'm planning on getting a 4K TV later this year and, Hollywood being Hollywood, I'll have to get a new AV receiver as well because of friggin DRM (although I guess it can be argued that HDMI needed an upgrade anyway for the much higher throughput required).

The cost of getting an Atmos-capable AVR is high though, and the jump from the simplest setup (5.1.2) to the next one (5.1.4 or 7.1.2) is almost prohibitive. I prefer Pioneer AVRs because of the features, but the other well known brands are about the same range of prices. I already got a the 9 speakers needed for 5.1.4 so that's not adding to the cost.

So do you guys think:
1. Is Atmos (5.1.2) worth it, or should I just stay with 7.1? (I'd have to find a way to get those bookshelf speakers up high cause I'm not buying ceiling speakers.)
2. Is 5.1.4 worth it over 5.1.2? Those 9-channel AVRs are in the $1400-$1600 range, while the 7-channel one I'm eyeing is $700 on Amazon right now, probably can get it cheaper if I look around, and I'll get it down the road in several months.

Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #1
Techmoan on youtube did a good video on this.  I think he felt that the difference was rather subtle.

  • spoon
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #2
I think Atmos has some longevity given that cinemas are also investing in ceiling speakers.

  • ajinfla
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #3
There is also DTS-X and Auro 3D to consider.
I have not heard Atmos, but would be interested in seeing testing of all 3 vs each other, though this would obviously be a complex endeavor.
Since JJs PSR didn't appear to gain traction, it seems some form of discrete height channel(s) are in my future, begrudgingly
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • andy o
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #4
Besides what spoon said about Atmos in theaters, it is also being used already in blurays and even on Netflix. I think that's the advantage over DTS-X and Auro 3D.

  • ajinfla
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #5
Things change. Best to utilize what best suit you...and I assume your own room.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • 4season
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #6
4K, Dolby Atmos: Would love to try, but the last time I checked, there weren't many movies that I wanted to watch. Couldn't get YouTube to play well in 4K either (Windows 10, Edge browser, i7 Skylake CPU, 16 GB RAM, etc). By the time the situation improves, everything will be cheaper and will probably include new must-have features.

  • andy o
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #7
Atmos has very recently been added to Netflix (with the release of Okja if I'm not mistaken), which is a big deal. DTS is very rare in the streaming/download world, most of the services and all the popular ones use Dolby audio. DTS had an advantage with bluray, but that's been in decline for a long time, and UHD bluray doesn't seem to be able to stop it, especially since they are making it even more difficult to play on PCs than bluray which was already a pain in the ass, and even if you got it to play, there was high uncertainty about newer discs working (without having to spend $100 a year on another version of a Hollywood-approved crappy software player).

Also, hardware. Atmos is already supported via HDMI ARC by newer TVs, which means their built-in apps and even broadcasts may support Atmos, which, again, Netflix is doing with the 2017 LG OLED TVs and will do with other models later.

I think it's very unlikely that DTS-X will gain any significant adoption outside of a minority of bluray titles, but in any case, most if not all new receivers that support Atmos also support DTS-X.

As for Auro 3D, from reading a bit, it was something that Denon and Marantz were into a couple of years ago, but most other brands don't offer it, and only the most expensive Denon/Marantz receivers offer it today. Also, I'm not sure if they're just older models, I don't think this year's high-end Denons are out yet.

  • andy o
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #8
Couldn't get YouTube to play well in 4K either (Windows 10, Edge browser, i7 Skylake CPU, 16 GB RAM, etc).
Unfortunately Intel only added proper VP9 and HEVC 10-bit 4K hardware decoding in Kaby Lake. I have a Razer Blade Stealth with an i7-7500U which is an ultrabook (i.e. low power) CPU, and Chrome and Edge both play 4K 60fps smoothly. If yours is a desktop you can try a dedicated graphics card like a 1050Ti or another Pascal card.

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By the time the situation improves, everything will be cheaper and will probably include new must-have features.
Even though this is true of most tech, for home A/V there are cycles where you should wait for everything to converge, and it will be stable for a while. Last one was 1080p/60Hz, lossless Dolby and DTS formats for bluray, and HDCP compliance. Today it's 4K/60Hz with HDR, Atmos/DTS-X, HDCP 2.2 and HDMI 2.0a/b.

For example, people who bought spanking new and expensive 1080i TVs when proper 1080p TVs weren't widely available quite yet got screwed. Even some so-called tech journalists were telling people not to buy 1080p cause there's no content anyway, which was a ridiculous shortsighted view, HD-DVD and bluray were just around the corner, and you could always connect a PC to it. Even progressive DVDs could benefit from a 1080p TV. Then came TVs without HDCP. People who bought those also got screwed when they tried to play blurays or HD-DVD on it.

Now it's happening again. Maybe HDR is not essential, and thankfully interlaced video is dead, but DRM is still screwing people over. HDCP 2.2. only became widely available in the past couple of years, and I don't think there's a lot of legal 4K content that doesn't require it. There are quite a lot of 4K TVs out there that don't have proper HDCP 2.2 support.

Unless there's another attempt at the 3D fiasco, I think it's gonna be stable until 8K screens are with us, and even then, I'm not sure if it's gonna be any useful to upgrade to it anymore, we are already at diminishing returns with 4K. HDMI 2.1 will bring support for 10K at 120Hz, which is a ridiculous jump.

Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #9
Isn't Dolby Atmost just more channels and lossless audio?

  • LithosZA
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #10
As far as I know Dolby Atmos isn't channel based. Each audio object in the mix has a certain x,y,z position that gets rendered in real-time. During rendering the receiver that decodes the Dolby Atmos takes into account the number of speakers and positions of the speakers in the room.

Dolby Atmos also works with lossy Dolby Digital Plus.

From Wikipedia:
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Differences from commercial installations
Because of limited bandwidth and lack of processing power, Atmos in home theaters is not rendered the same way as in cinemas. A spatially-coded substream is added to Dolby TrueHD or Dolby Digital Plus. This substream only represents an abbreviated representation of the object-based mix. This substream does not include all 128 discrete objects separated. This is not a matrix-encoded channel, but a spatially-encoded digital channel. Atmos in home theaters can support 24.1.10 channels,[22] and uses the spatially-encoded object audio substream to mix the audio presentation to match the installed speaker configuration. The spatial audio coding tool is applied to the cinematic object audio mix when filmmakers remix and render the TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus soundtracks with Dolby Media Producer.
  • Last Edit: 08 July, 2017, 10:38:03 AM by LithosZA

  • ajinfla
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #11
I think it's very unlikely that DTS-X will gain any significant adoption outside of a minority of bluray titles, but in any case, most if not all new receivers that support Atmos also support DTS-X.

As for Auro 3D, from reading a bit, it was something that Denon and Marantz were into a couple of years ago, but most other brands don't offer it, and only the most expensive Denon/Marantz receivers offer it today. Also, I'm not sure if they're just older models, I don't think this year's high-end Denons are out yet.
Auro is the new kid on block and is offered as a firmware upgrade on upper end Denon and Marantz, currently.
Both have a speaker layout that works with all 3 formats, Atmos, DTSX and Auro. That would be my preferred option since there would be a modicum of future proofing and options in case one was indeed shown to be the most immersive. Unfortunately there is mainly subjective reviews about each, no rigorous comparisons. For my preference for ultimate sound, as long as I can afford it, the "all 3" option is the most appealing. Since there seems to be a way that works with (now most popular) Atmos and DTS/Auro, were they to become streaming options as well. YMMV.
Loudspeaker manufacturer

  • augustine
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #12
Isn't Dolby Atmost just more channels and lossless audio?

Dolby Atmos is at best a 9.1 bed (7.1 + two speakers at height) then there are the objects which can be distributed over anything up to 128 (I think) speakers. Apart from the object based aspect, there is nothing particularly new about it. Basically, you have several "objects" say a helicopter - the same file can take account of speaker positions ans place the helicopter in stereo or over dozens of speaker sin 3D according to the setup it needs to be decoded to (ie do you have speakers at height, surrounding etc etc ). DTS and Auro also have object based approaches - but Ambisonics was doing something similar to this years ago - one file could be decoded to different speaker arrays. It's basically a marketing thing - but it will be slightly useful. It misses some fairly important aspects of spatial and immersive audio - but their goal is to get into peoples houses so that's not surprising. Most people will not bother to even setup quad or 5.1 properly so I doubt they will achieve this. They could have done something much cooler for cinemas but I cant talk about that without NDA etc

  • polemon
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #13
As I understand it, each "object" is a separate file, with a maximum of 128 channels. This file is then played at the right point in the timeline, etc.

Depending on how many speakers you have, the playback is either downmixed (when you have fewer speakers installed, than channels used in the file), or extrapolated onto (when you have more speakers than channels used in the file).

I'm not sure this is of such a huge significance to the users, though. The main reason and necessity seems to be the widely varying number of speakers. Automatic downmixing and and extrapolating can be done relatively easy with only a couple channels and variants, iirc the largest one was 22.2.

So I guess the fact that Atmos has this object based audio, I'd guess it makes it easier for audio engineers to use this technology more efficiently (and use those many speakers more efficiently, etc).

What I'm most interested in, however, is how they will downmix and reproduce all that onto stereo headphones.

  • LithosZA
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #14
What I'm most interested in, however, is how they will downmix and reproduce all that onto stereo headphones.

Overwatch has a 'Dolby Atmos' mode, but it sounds basically the same as a normal 'Headphones HRTF' mode. I think it is just marketing.

  • polemon
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #15
Overwatch has a 'Dolby Atmos' mode, but it sounds basically the same as a normal 'Headphones HRTF' mode. I think it is just marketing.

Dolby Atmos for headphones? Well, that's kinda interesting on one hand, but also kinda unnecessary on the other, etc. Maybe they mean it still has the object-based sound mixing but a better downmix for headphones? And shouldn't be the downmixing done by the Audio driver?

  • andy o
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #16
Isn't Dolby Atmost just more channels and lossless audio?

Dolby Atmos is at best a 9.1 bed (7.1 + two speakers at height) then there are the objects which can be distributed over anything up to 128 (I think) speakers. Apart from the object based aspect, there is nothing particularly new about it. Basically, you have several "objects" say a helicopter - the same file can take account of speaker positions ans place the helicopter in stereo or over dozens of speaker sin 3D according to the setup it needs to be decoded to (ie do you have speakers at height, surrounding etc etc ). DTS and Auro also have object based approaches - but Ambisonics was doing something similar to this years ago - one file could be decoded to different speaker arrays. It's basically a marketing thing - but it will be slightly useful. It misses some fairly important aspects of spatial and immersive audio - but their goal is to get into peoples houses so that's not surprising. Most people will not bother to even setup quad or 5.1 properly so I doubt they will achieve this. They could have done something much cooler for cinemas but I cant talk about that without NDA etc

Isn't consumer Atmos at best 7.1.4 (11.1 channels), not 7.1.2? Do you have any opinions on what might be better, 7.1.2, or 5.1.4 if one has a 9.1 channel A/V receiver?

  • probedb
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #17
DTS had an advantage with bluray, but that's been in decline for a long time

I think the number of DTS-HD MA titles far outstrips Dolby TrueHD titles and most new titles have DTS tracks even though it's an optional format? Certainly in my collection TrueHD titles are really in the minority and I have a lot, both movies and TV.

According to wikipedia, DTS-X is defined similarly to Atmos:

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Rather than define a fixed number of channels, one for each speaker, DTS:X allows the "location" (direction from the listener) of "objects" (audio tracks) to be specified as polar coordinates. The audio processor is then responsible for dynamically rendering sound output depending on the number and position of speakers available. Dolby Atmos uses a similar technique,[12][13] although the speaker layout employed by cinema DTS:X is the sum of Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D.

  • andy o
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Re: So how do we feel about Dolby Atmos?
Reply #18
I didn't phrase that very clearly, sorry. I meant that bluray usage has been in decline. Streaming now as far as I know is only doing Atmos, and granted it's very new and only a handful of titles are planned on Netflix this year, but pretty much all streaming services have been doing DD or DD+ for years now, so I don't think DTS-X will take most of the market like it had in the bluray heyday. Streaming is the mainstream now. It's not clear to me even if lossy DTS-HD can carry DTS-X metadata, not that any streaming services are using it anyway.

There's some interesting info and pics on this CNET article about DTS-X https://www.cnet.com/news/dts-x-the-dolby-atmos-alternative-explained/
  • Last Edit: 27 July, 2017, 08:53:34 PM by andy o