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Dolby Atmos headed to home cinema systems

Dolby Atmos logo

Dolby's multi-channel Atmos surround sound technology will be coming to home cinemas for the first time later this year

Dolby has confirmed that it will be bringing the Atmos multi-channel surround sound system to home cinema systems for the first time – meaning immersive surround sound in your house, without the need for a whopping 128 separate speakers.

When it first launched in 2012, Atmos brought 64-channel surround sound to a small selection of cinemas around the world. The number of films shot in Atmos and compatible screens has steadily grown over the past two years, but the company has finally revealed plans for bringing the technology into the home. In a post on the official Dolby Blog, director of Sound Research Brett Crockett said Dolby’s goal was “to make home theatre sound better than ever, while giving audio enthusiasts flexible choices in how they set up their system.

Atmos will primarily be aimed at high-end home cinema enthusiasts willing to install speakers in their ceilings for the most immersive sound. If that isn’t possible, Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers from third party home cinema brands will be purpose built to produce overhead sound, without moving from the usual 5.1 speaker locations. For anyone with an existing set of surround sound speakers, there will be Atmos-enabled speaker modules which will sit on top to produce convincing surround sound.

Dolby isn’t willing to talk specifics yet, but it appears that Atmos in the home will create the sensation of sound above your head by cleverly bounding sound waves around the room, based on how your brain interprets them as they reach your ears. Hardware is only half the story, however. Dolby has pledged to work with studios and production companies to create Atmos soundtracks for movies and TV series on Blu-ray disc, as well as streaming video services such as Netflix. The first releases should appear at the beginning of 2015.

Despite being in the early stages, manufacturers have already confirmed their support for Atmos. One of the first was Onkyo, with a press release revealing the upcoming TX-NR1030 and TX-NR3030 A/V receivers, HT-S7705 and HT-S9705THX Home Theatre in a Box packages, and SKS-HT678 and SKH-410 speakers would all be supporting Atmos when they arrive later this year. A firmware update will also be adding Atmos decoding abilities to the current TX-NR636, TX-NR737, and TX-NR838 A/V receivers. Denon will also be updading its amplifiers with Atmos support later in the year.