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Dolby Atmos Resources

Last Updated on Tuesday, August 20th, 2019 6:28 PM

Dolby Atmos Home logoIn June 2014, Dolby announced the availability of its Atmos® sound system for home theaters. Previously only available in commercial movie theaters, Dolby Atmos in the home provides home theater enthusiasts with the ability to reproduce height-enhanced soundtracks through the use of capable receivers, extra speakers, and Atmos-encoded Blu-ray discs.

Since Dolby Atmos was released, two other competing technologies are also delivering immersive audio for home theater: Auro and DTS:X. You can find out more about DTS:X on our DTS:X Resources Help document. (Auro hasn't released any titles in the U.S. yet)

While the best scenario is playing an Atmos-encoded movie through your new Atmos-equipped A/V receiver, there aren't many Atmos-encoded movies released yet. (See the listing below) Fortunately, Dolby also included an upmixer (called Dolby Surround) in its technology so that a non-Atmos-encoded movie can be played through those new speakers you just installed for an enhanced experience over and above the 5.1 or 7.1 channel soundtrack that exists on the content you are playing. Results will vary by movie, but it's there if you want to use it, and you can choose whether you want to enable it.

This page will serve as a gathering place for various resources that we find and believe are useful for those wanting to install Dolby Atmos in their home.

Dolby Reference Documents

Dolby Atmos for home theaters: FAQ -- Brett Crockett, Senior Director of Sound Research, Dolby [Jun 27, 2014]

A good primer on the technology, published soon after Dolby's announcement. It answers the most obvious questions that consumers might have about the new format.

How Dolby Atmos goes from cinemas to living rooms -- Brett Crockett, Senior Director of Sound Technology Research, Dolby [Sep 15, 2014]

Hacking your hearing to create Dolby Atmos enabled speakers -- Brett Crockett, Senior Director of Sound Technology Research, Dolby [Sep 8, 2014]

Dolby Atmos® Home Theater Installation Guidelines -- Dolby [last updated: Apr 2015]

This is a more detailed document from Dolby that goes into what types of speakers to use and where to place them for the various possible configurations. If you're contemplating installing Atmos in your home theater, start with this document to get the information straight from the source.

Enthusiast Discussions

The official Dolby Atmos thread (home theater version) -- AVS Forum

The AVS Forum is filled with home theater enthusiasts trying to get the most enjoyment they can out of their hobby. This thread contains the primary discussion surrounding Dolby Atmos and its impact on home theaters. Excitement and speculation is followed by first-hand reports from early adopters, and then the results of experimentation with speaker placement, speaker types, idiosyncrasies of various receivers with Atmos capability. It's a very large amount of information, but it's a treasure trove for anyone looking to take the Atmos plunge.

Don't want to wade through the entire thread? Here is a first-hand report from one of the first people on the thread to install Atmos in his home theater:

First impressions of the Denon X5200W AVR and Dolby Atmos -- AVS Forum [Oct 2, 2014]

The "Official" Immersive Audio Discussion thread - Atmos/DTS:X/Auro -- AVS Forum

Immersive audio for home theater didn't stop with Dolby Atmos, so the people on AVS Forum created an all-encompassing thread for discussing immersive audio technologies, including Atmos, Auro, and DTS:X.

Dolby Atmos on Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray

Dolby Atmos adds special coding to a lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack on a Blu-ray disc. This means that a movie with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack will be backwards-compatible with any Blu-ray player and any receiver capable of playing Dolby TrueHD soundtracks (which is every Blu-ray player we know of, and most every A/V receiver made in the last five years or so). If your receiver is not capable of decoding the Atmos portion of the soundtrack, it will decode the TrueHD portion as it would with a traditional TrueHD soundtrack.

Dolby Atmos Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Titles

To enjoy Atmos to its fullest, you need source material! The good news is that Atmos can be added to the soundtrack of a movie on Blu-ray disc without any requiring a new Blu-ray player (so long as your Blu-ray player meets the full Blu-ray specification, per Dolby). 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray discs also support Dolby Atmos (but you will need a player capable of playing those new discs).

As with all new formats, it will take some time for the Dolby Atmos soundtrack to be provided on Blu-ray discs. Below, we will keep a list of all Atmos-encoded movie titles as we find out about them (the links will take you to gift shop merchant Amazon.com for pricing and other details).

Keep in mind that this list is only releases in the United States. There are some instances where a movie is available in another country with an Atmos mix (Lucy is one example).

Dolby Atmos on Streaming Services

Dolby Atmos can support lossy encoding where bitrates are a concern. This is done by piggybacking Atmos code onto a Dolby Digital+ bitstream, which is a lossy compressed sound format (as opposed to Dolby TrueHD, which is lossless).

VUDU offers what it calls The Dolby Experience, which is a free bundle of Atmos trailers that you can stream to your system. To our knowledge, no actual movies are being streamed from the service in Dolby Atmos.

According to Dolby's web site (as of September 30, 2015), Netflix and Amazon Instant Video offer "some movies" in Dolby Atmos, but we could not find any examples of such movies.

Dolby Atmos Decoding Hardware: Receivers and Processors

In order to decode the Dolby Atmos portion of the soundtrack, your processor/receiver is going to need a Dolby Atmos decoder. The following manufacturers have released/announced models that decode Dolby Atmos soundtracks:

Having Problems Playing Dolby Atmos? Some Troubleshooting Tips

As with DTS:X, playing Dolby Atmos requires the following be present:

  1. Source material that contains a Dolby Atmos soundtrack
    This is different than Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital 7.1, 6.1, or 5.1, Dolby Pro-Logic, and Dolby Stereo. Look for a designation on your source material for the specific notation of Dolby Atmos. Currently, Dolby Atmos is only available on Blu-ray, Ultra HD Blu-ray discs, and some streaming services. Check the list of movies above to see which movies have Atmos soundtracks. Make sure that the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is selected in the menu of the disc you are playing.
  2. A Blu-ray player configured to send bitstream audio
    You should not need a new Blu-ray player. In order to send a Dolby Atmos signal, your Blu-ray player must be configured to send audio via "bitstream" in its settings menu. Additionally, any setting for "Secondary Audio/Mix" or similar should be disabled. Any Blu-ray player capable of bitstreaming high definition audio should be able to deliver Dolby Atmos.
  3. An HDMI connection to your A/V receiver or processor
    High definition audio cannot be sent over toslink or digital coaxial audio connections, you must use the HDMI cable connection. Many TV's with ARC (audio return channel) capability over HDMI cannot send high definition audio from the TV to the receiver/processor, so an app on the TV may not be able to deliver Dolby Atmos or other high definition audio.
  4. An A/V receiver or processor capable of playing Dolby Atmos, with the necessary speakers
    This is different than Dolby TrueHD, Dolby Digital 7.1, 6.1, or 5.1, Dolby Pro-Logic, and Dolby Stereo. Look for a designation on your device, in the manual, or online at the manufacturer's web site for the specific notation of Dolby Atmos. We have listed many of those models above for your reference, but new models may be introduced that we do not have in that list.

    Your receiver will need to be configured correctly so that it knows how many speakers you have and where they are located. If you do not do this, you may not be able to engage Dolby Atmos playback even if the receiver/processor is capable of it. For help with configuration, check the manual for your device and/or enthusiast forums like the AVS Forum for discussions relating to your specific device.

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