Dolby Atmos and DTS: X offer great sound, but is it worth the upgrade?

It has been more than seven years since it was presented Dolby Atmos for the domestic market, a new format of multi-channel object-based sound coming from movie theaters that promised to improve the fidelity of positioning in the sound scene thanks to the incorporation of new speakers in the room. A year later came DTS:X, also based on objects and with some interesting a priori additional functions with which it would “revolutionize” our sound devices.

Manufacturers quickly released their compatible equipment, both in the form of AV receivers such as speakers and sound bars, promising great improvements in audio spectacularity and making us want to renew our home theater systems. Have they really succeeded? Is it worth updating? Can we take advantage of them in a conventional home or is it rather reserved for large dedicated rooms?

Without extra speakers there is no “magic”

dolby atmos loudspeakers installed

The key to the new formats inevitably involves the installation of new speakers in the room. Reference settings for Atmos for example include the 5.1.2, which involves adding two Dolby Atmos-enabled or ceiling speakers to a traditional 5.1 system, and the setup 7.1.4, which is made up of a traditional 7.1 system to which four in-ceiling or Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers are added.

In an ideal world, you have to install these extra speakers on the ceilingHowever, speakers are also sold with the drivers tilted upwards that use the bounces in the upper part of the room to recreate the surround effects. But in the latter case the results can be quite disappointing, since we need a listening room with some requirements that we don’t usually have.

The ceiling must be smooth (not vaulted or angled), of a acoustically reflective material, such as a normal plaster wall, stucco, concrete or dense wood, and at a height of between 2.4 and 2.7 meters for an optimal result. Otherwise and as soon as there is an obstacle, the effect is lost and it can even worsen the feeling of positioning that you wanted to achieve.

What does this mean? Well now we can remove frontal sound emission systems from our wish list like sound bars. It may at first seem that they offer very spectacular effects, but in the long run they will tire us and we will probably choose to leave them off.

Many content available … if you speak English

Dolby Atmos sound bar

Another problem that Atmos and DTS: X have to solve is related to the content available. Why do we want a system that supports them if we don’t have any compatible movie? There are them, and more and more come in Dolby Atmos, although at the moment only in english. If you are a Spanish speaker, better keep waiting, because the distributors do not seem to be very much on the job despite having been with the format for almost a decade.

Distributors continue to penalize the Spanish-speaking consumer with lower quality audios that are far from HD, Atmos and DTS: X formats.

Even when? It gave the impression that they were waiting for UHD Blu-ray to settle on the market to include sound on discs. Atmos y DTS:X as a novelty or more extra that should encourage us to buy them compared to conventional Blu-rays. And even the incorporation of these formats in streaming platforms it gave us some hope.

But at the moment it doesn’t seem to be on target either and hopefully, with good luck, we have DTS-Master Audio or similar audios in Spanish, being more common than we would like to include tracks in Dolby Digital and DTS with low bit rate and of course only with 5.1 channels.

Higher prices

Although in the last two or three years the new formats have already come standard with most equipment launches, still if you don’t have a budget more than 600-800 euros for the A / V receiver you probably run out of quality Atmos and DTS: X sound or you may even need a external amplifier to handle the extra channels since for this budget it is difficult to find equipment that can work with 7 or 9 speakers at decent power levels.

Also, there are many cases where support for Atmos and DTS: X does not come standard, but is achieved through a subsequent firmware update (for example in the 2016-2017 models) that many users do not know or want to do after having spent a fortune on their new equipment.

Is it worth upgrading? Well, the answer still depends on the budget we have and especially in the room where we are going to install the equipment. If we can have a dedicated or a semi-dedicated with the possibility of installing additional speakers in ceiling and walls we can consider buying a compatible amplifier. Otherwise, it may be more profitable for us to bet on an older receiver (between two and four years old) at a good price or to continue with what we already have at home.

Then there is the issue of language. If ours is listen in original version We will be able to enjoy the latest Blu-ray, Blu-ray UHD and streaming releases with significant improvements over dubbed audio tracks. Otherwise, Dolby Atmos and the elusive DTS: X are still more utopia than reality for the Spanish-speaking consumer.

Source: Xataka Smart Home by

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