Living room with beamer on the table that projects an image onto a screen

3D Surround Dolby Atmos

also available for the home cinema sector

Now that the new 3D Surround Dolby Atmos is also available for home cinema, a rival system, Auro 3D from Galaxy Studios, is in the starting blocks. This 3D sound system also extends the sound image upwards by one dimension and also promises an unprecedented audio experience. We would like to introduce you to the compatible AV receivers from the manufacturers Marantz and Denon and show you the differences to the Dolby Atmos system.


About the two systems:

Icon 3D

Auro 3D

Auro 3D is another immersive audio format that has been developed to enrich the sound of films, music and other media. Compared to traditional surround systems, Auro 3D offers a vertical sound plane that enables a three-dimensional sound experience. This technology allows viewers and listeners to perceive sounds coming from above them, making scenes in films or elements in music tracks more realistic and vivid.


In 2005, Wilfried van Baelen, Managing Director of Auro-Technologies and part of the renowned Belgian sound studio Galaxy Studios, laid the foundations for the Auro-3D process. The aim of this process was to revolutionise the sound of films, music and other media content by creating a realistic, three-dimensional audio landscape . With Auro-3D technology, the aim is not only to present the sound in width (stereo) and depth (conventional surround), but also to add the dimension of height. This approach makes it possible to create a sound that can be perceived in a much more realistic way when listening through soundbars, loudspeakers and even modern televisions. In the years that followed, this technology became particularly popular in the film industry. Films that use this sound technology offer audiences a more immersive experience when listening through their home cinema soundbars or speakers, as the sounds can come not only from all sides but also from above. Van Baelen's vision, coupled with the expertise of Galaxy Studios, has been instrumental in ensuring that viewers can now enjoy a 360-degree sound experience that goes far beyond what traditional speakers or televisions can offer.

3 level technology

Auro 3D technology works in a similar way to the Dolby Atmos process. It takes the normal 5.1 surround system and adds sounds from above. Special information is sent directly to the speakers instead of changing the normal 5.1 signal. This ensures better sound quality, which you can clearly hear when you compare it with the modified sound.

  • Dolby Atmos: Dolby Atmos brings the third dimension to the audio experience. But how does it do that? Dolby Atmos uses either ceiling speakers or special Dolby Atmos speakers. These special speakers send the sound upwards to the ceiling. The sound is reflected from there, giving the listener the impression that the sound is coming from above.

  • Auro 3D also offers a three-dimensional sound experience, but takes a different approach to Dolby Atmos. The most advanced version of Auro 3D, the 11.1 version, uses the so-called"3-level technology". The special feature here is the division of the listening room into three vertical speaker zones: the conventional 5.1 surround level, a middle height level and an upper level. Unlike Dolby Atmos, the audio signals are not processed on an object basis here, but are organised according to these three levels .

There are different ways in which speakers can be arranged in sound systems. These are sometimes referred to as"surround","height" and"top". With Dolby Atmos, up to 64 speakers can be used in cinemas. Auro, on the other hand, has fixed settings. You start with a normal 5.1 surround system. From there, there are various options:

  • With the 9.1 version, four additional speakers hang above, directly above the normal speakers.
  • With the 10.1 version, there is an additional speaker pointing directly at the listener. This is often referred to as the "Voice of God" and is located directly above the listener. There are no rear surround speakers here.
  • The 11.1 version is the largest for home cinemas. Here there is an additional speaker in the top centre, directly above the centre speaker of the 5.1 system. This setup requires an extra amplifier, which current AV receivers do not offer. This additional amplifier provides the "Voice of God" effect and is connected to a special socket. However, you can only use one subwoofer, not two.


Differences to Dolby Atmos

Firstly, it can be said that the Auro 3D-capable AV receivers are also all Dolby Atmos-capable. Dolby Atmos minimum configuration requires two height speakers, whereas the minimum configuration for Auro 9.1 already requires four speakers.

Thanks to the object-orientated encoding in the Atmos process, the positioning of the speakers is also more flexible. Another difference is the "Voice of God" channel, i.e. the speaker that is positioned directly above the listener's head. This channel is only addressed if corresponding material is available on the Blu-ray. All methods used to date work with the help of a matrix, which means that the height channels are not real, discrete channels, but are fed signals that have been processed in an admittedly complex matrix. This is completely different with Auro-3D and Dolby Atmos - because both systems are hybrids of classic channel layout and object-based playback.

Comparison of advantages and disadvantages

Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D are both immersive audio formats that aim to immerse the listener in a three-dimensional sound experience. However, each of these formats has its own special features and therefore both advantages and disadvantages.

Dolby Atmos:
Auro 3D:
  1. Object-based audio: Dolby Atmos uses an object-based approach in which audio elements are regarded as "objects" that can move freely in three-dimensional space. This allows for more precise placement of sound elements.
  2. Flexibility in speaker arrangements: It allows for flexible speaker placement and can be used with ceiling speakers or special Dolby Atmos speakers that reflect sound to the ceiling.
  3. Widespread use: Dolby Atmos is already used in many films and home cinema systems, so there is an extensive library of compatible content.
  4. Compatibility: Most Auro 3D-capable AV receivers are also Dolby Atmos-compatible.
  1. Vertical sound plane: Auro 3D provides a clear vertical sound plane that enables a three-dimensional sound experience.
  2. Three-level listening room: In advanced setups, such as the 11.1 version, the listening room is divided into three vertical speaker zones, which ensures very clear and separate sound placement.
  3. Upmix capability: The "Auro-Matic Upmixer" allows users to convert conventional audio sources into 3D sound, which is particularly useful when not many native 3D sound sources are yet available.
  4. "Voice of God" channel: A unique channel placed directly above the listener provides a unique sound experience.
  1. Speaker limitation: Dolby Atmos Enabled speakers that reflect sound to the ceiling are not compatible with Auro 3D.
  2. Installation: For the ideal Dolby Atmos experience, the installation of additional speakers is necessary, which could be problematic in some homes or home cinema environments.
  1. Chargeable update: The update to Auro 3D must be purchased and installed online.
  2. Speaker compatibility: The Dolby Atmos Enabled speakers are not compatible with Auro 3D. Special ceiling speakers are required for the Auro 3D process.
  3. Complexity: Some Auro 3D setups, such as the 11.1 version, require additional amplifiers and specific speaker arrangements that may be difficult to achieve in some home cinemas.
  4. Limited content: At the time of the information provided, there were not that many Auro 3D films or content available, although this may change over time.

What else you need to know:


All-clear for all home cinema users who already have ceiling speakers installed: These are fully compatible with the Auro 3D process. Specialists may, if the AV receiver allows it, install a centre speaker (Voice of God Channel) directly above the viewer's head. However, this is not a must. Owners of Dolby Enabled speakers will still have to make do with the Dolby Atmos process, as these special speakers are not compatible with Auro 3D. Even if the Auro 3D process is technically different from Dolby Atmos, it also brings a new dimension to the home cinema.

All about 3D sound, Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D:

3D audio, also known as spatial audio, is a type of sound design that attempts to create a three-dimensional sound experience. It can give the impression that sounds are coming from different directions and distances, creating a sense of depth and space. This technology is often used in video games, movies and VR applications to create a more immersive experience.
Atmos 3D typically refers to Dolby Atmos, a technology for surround sound systems developed by Dolby Laboratories. It is an object-based audio technology that allows individual sounds to be positioned and moved as independent "objects" rather than being confined to specific channels. This technology is often used in theatres and home theatre systems and is known for creating a "three-dimensional" sound.
Yes, Dolby Atmos can be considered a type of 3D sound. Instead of confining the sound to a flat plane, as is the case with traditional stereo or surround sound systems, Dolby Atmos allows the sound to come from anywhere in the room, including from above. This creates a three-dimensional sound experience.
There are several ways to hear 3D audio. One is through a dedicated speaker system, such as a Dolby Atmos compatible home theatre system. Some headphones and earphones also support 3D audio, especially when used with certain software or hardware. In addition, many games and virtual reality applications support 3D audio and can provide a spatial sound experience when used with the right audio equipment.
Several devices support 3D audio, including: 
  • Speaker systems: Many home theatre speaker systems, soundbars and even some TVs now support Dolby Atmos and other 3D audio formats. 
  • Headphones and earphones: Some models of headphones and earphones support 3D audio, often in conjunction with special software or hardware. 
  • Game consoles: For example, the Sony PlayStation 5 and Microsoft Xbox Series X/S support 3D audio in many of their games. 
  • Computers and mobile phones: Many modern computers and mobile phones can play 3D audio through headphones, especially when used with the right software or app.
Tobias Berg and Oliver Stenzel - contact persons in Purchasing and Sales - write on glass pane

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