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Buyer's guide

Dolby Atmos speakers: experience 3D sound at home

Everything for a cinema atmosphere in your own home

Spatial sound is no longer just to be found in films and series. Music and games also promise a new dimension of listening with Dolby Atmos. However, Dolby Atmos only sounds best with the right setup. But what different surround setups are there, and how can existing speaker setups be optimally utilised?

Home cinema living room with TV and surround system

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary audio technology that rethinks the conventional approach to sound reproduction and creates a three-dimensional soundscape. Instead of a flat, circular sound arrangement as in traditional surround systems, Dolby Atmos is an object-based surround sound format that offers a cubic sound architecture and combines horizontal and vertical sound planes. It expands the sound experience through the use of height channels and thus enables an immersive sound experience that completely surrounds the listener. Whether it's raindrops falling from above or a helicopter hovering overhead, Dolby Atmos creates an illusion of space and movement that puts you right in the middle of the action.


Why Dolby Atmos speakers?

The specially developed Dolby Atmos speakers combine a series of filters and psychoacoustic signal processes.

In addition, the drivers are built into the chassis at a precisely defined angle (and direction) and are thus directed towards the ceiling. When the speakers are activated, the sound is emitted in the direction of the ceiling and reflected from it in the direction of the listener.

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Three-dimensional sound

Dolby Atmos speakers are not just a further development of surround systems, but a quantum leap in audio technology. While conventional systems only create a horizontal sound stage, Dolby Atmos speakers add a vertical dimension. With their ability to position the sound in a 360-degree space, they create a soundscape that fundamentally changes your perception of audio. Not only do they make films and music more vivid, they also simulate realistic scenarios by reproducing the sound of a thunderstorm above you or the buzzing of an insect next to your ear. Three-dimensional sound expands the boundaries of the listening experience and puts you right in the middle of the action.

Immersive experience

Dolby Atmos goes far beyond the possibilities of conventional stereo or surround sound systems and creates a completely immersive listening experience. As an object-based surround sound format, it offers the ability to place individual sounds in a three-dimensional space instead of assigning a fixed soundtrack to each speaker. You can immerse yourself in the melodies of your favourite music or completely immerse yourself in the film world as if you were in the middle of the action. The combination of horizontal and vertical sound layers creates an acoustic 3D environment that completely envelops the listener and offers an unrivalled immersive experience.
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Types of Dolby Atmos speakers

The Dolby Atmos-compatible top speakers can be integrated into the front speakers or placed on top of conventional speakers as additional speakers.

The speakers are housed in a compact cabinet and contain an upward-firing cone speaker and the Dolby Atmos-certified filters mentioned above. Due to their design, they can easily be placed on top of larger speakers. Alternatively, some Dolby Atmos speakers can also be installed directly in the ceiling to provide the audience with direct sound. In addition, there are Dolby Atmos soundbars in which several speakers are built in directly, simulating a surround sound including height speakers.


Technical specifications and requirements

When selecting a Dolby Atmos system, there are various technical specifications to consider.

The transmission rate (bit rate) and the sampling rate are decisive for the sound quality. A higher value in both categories leads to a clearer and more detailed sound image. The number of channels also plays an important role; a 7.1.4 system offers a more intense, immersive sound experience than a simpler 5.1.2 system.


The compatibility of AV receivers, loudspeakers and other peripheral devices such as Blu-ray players or TV sticks can lead to complications. It is important that all devices used are certified for Dolby Atmos. Incorrect configuration can lead to audio lag or distortion. It is also important to consider the impedance and power requirements of the speakers to avoid overloading and possible damage.

Using the Onkyo TX-NR3030 11.2-channel AV network receiver as an example, the connection terminals for 4 height speakers can be recognised. Depending on the AV receiver, the 2 speakers are each connected to Height 1 Left/Right. For a total of 4 speakers, Height 2 Left/Right are also used.


Despite these challenges, the benefits are considerable. A well-configured Dolby Atmos system not only offers superior audio quality, but also the ability to precisely position sound objects in the room, resulting in a significantly improved, immersive experience.


Selection criteria for the right setup

The size of the room and the compatibility of the devices are decisive factors when choosing a Dolby Atmos system.

While room size influences the number and type of speakers, compatibility is critical to the performance and longevity of the entire system.


Room size

Room size plays a decisive role when choosing a Dolby Atmos system. In smaller rooms, fewer speakers are needed to create an immersive experience, while larger rooms require a more complex setup with more channels. A 5.1.2 system may be sufficient for a small to medium-sized room, while a 7.1.4 system should be chosen for a larger room. The room height must also be taken into account. The recommendation for the use of ceiling speakers is a ceiling height of 2.4 metres or more. If the room is lower, the sound from above may be perceived as too dominant. Top speakers should be used with ceiling heights of no more than 2.4 to 2.7 metres. If the ceiling is higher, the sound from above may be perceived as too diffuse or reach the listener with a time delay.
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Another important factor when choosing a Dolby Atmos system is compatibility. Your AV receiver should not only support Dolby Atmos, but also have enough connections for all your speakers. Make sure that the receiverhasenough HDMI inputs for your source devices such as games consoles and Blu-ray players. Also check the impedance of the speakers to make sure they are compatible with the receiver. Paying attention to these points will ensure consistent performance and prevent damage to your audio equipment. A fully compatible system will provide the best performance and listening experience.

Installation and setup

The installation and configuration of a Dolby Atmos system can vary depending on the room situation.

In a living room with limited space, top-mounted speakers may be the best solution. These can simply be placed on top of the existing speakers and do not require complex ceiling installation. Some modern also support Dolby Atmos and are ideal for such rooms.

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

In contrast, a dedicated home cinema in the basement offers the possibility of a more extensive installation. Here, ceiling speakers and wall installations can create an impressive acoustic immersion. The cabling is more complex and should ideally be carried out by a professional. A well-configured audio measurement system can also help to align the speakers correctly and adapt the sound to the room.


Regardless of the room, it is important to configure the AV receiver correctly to ensure that it processes the Dolby Atmos data correctly. Also pay attention to any necessary firmware updates. Especially with a large number of speakers, it is essential to use a room correction procedure. In addition, the reproduction of the entire sound image is no longer channel-based. This is another reason why correct adjustment is all the more important. The room correction procedures are already available in the AV receivers and a special measuring microphone is included in the scope of delivery.

When the calibration program is started, the surround layout is optimised, regardless of whether ceiling or top speakers are involved. The room optimisation methods differ in the number of possible measuring points, filter resolution and post-processing options, depending on the equipment and orientation of the AV receiver.


Conclusion: Is it worth investing in Dolby Atmos speakers?

Investing in Dolby Atmos speakers is a worthwhile upgrade for any home cinema enthusiast who values outstanding sound quality and an immersive 3D audio experience.

Dolby Atmos in the home cinema adds a new dimension to the listening experience. With a Dolby Atmos-capable system, not only can impressive sound events, such as aeroplanes thundering overhead, be reproduced, but the acoustics of large halls and buildings also appear much more vivid. Of course, this also applies to film scenes set in the jungle, for example. The additional sound information from above immerses you even more in the action.

The most frequently asked questions about Dolby Atmos

Brands such as Sony, Yamaha, Samsung, Anthem and many others offer a wide range of Dolby Atmos compatible speakers.
Installing ceiling speakers requires professional mounting, while top speakers can simply be placed on top of existing speakers. A setup wizard in the AV receiver helps with the configuration.
Yes, a Dolby Atmos compatible AV receiver is required to realise the full potential of the technology.
Unlike conventional surround systems that only offer horizontal sound, Dolby Atmos also enables vertical sound, creating a three-dimensional sound experience.
Investing in a Dolby Atmos system is recommended for anyone looking for a truly immersive audio experience. It pushes the boundaries of conventional audio systems and provides an immersive sound experience.
Dolby Atmos speakers work in addition to surround speakers with specialised ceiling or top speakers that project sound vertically. Together with a Dolby Atmos-compatible AV receiver, they create a three-dimensional sound space.
There are two main types: ceiling speakers, which are integrated directly into the ceiling, and top speakers, which are placed on top of existing speakers and reflect the sound from the ceiling.
Room size affects the number and placement of speakers. Larger rooms may require more speakers for an optimal experience.
Yes, many Dolby Atmos speakers can be added to conventional 5.1 or 7.1 surround systems.
Dolby Atmos is a sound technology that provides a three-dimensional, immersive sound experience. It allows sounds to be placed in a 360-degree environment.
Tobias Berg and Oliver Stenzel - contact persons in Purchasing and Sales - write on glass pane

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