Every day we’re surrounded by sound, by noise, but how often have you been immersed in sound?
If you have, you’ll know the difference, and how it helps change TVs, games, and movies from simply being watched to be experienced.
Dolby Atmos is one of the latest home theatre audio advancement, and includes two front facing speakers, two rear facing speakers, a centre channel, and a subwoofer, for that cinematic rumble of bass. Sounds are no longer just in front and behind you, but all around you.
But Dolby Atmos is more than just adding a few top-down speakers to a surround sound mix – a lot more work goes into the mastering.
Its cinema soundtracks are object based, not channel based. Instead of audio being simply divided into left and right or front and back channels, Dolby Atmos is designed to distribute audio across the speakers based on the objects on-screen.
So, a helicopter mixed for Dolby Atmos could be tracked as an object across speakers, from back, to above, to front, with far more detail than a simple left-right switch.
Hearing a scene mastered for Dolby Atmos really highlights the difference of perception it creates. Surround sound is impressive enough already, but hearing the same scene in Atmos helps add a dimension to the audio. Sounds aren’t neatly divided into left and right channels in the real world, they swirl around us, connected to the objects that are creating them. Atmos helps to bring this dimensionality to movies and games, making them feel all the more real.
The results are incredible. Watching Mad Max: Fury Road in Dolby Atmos felt more immersive than seeing it in a cinema. Every part of the audio is distinctive, from the the rumble of the engines, to the sound of War Boys flying overhead. You can even follow the audio trajectory of individual spears thrown at Max Rockatansky as they whoosh past. The swirling, all encompassing sound is truly something to behold.
Probably the most terrifying demonstration of Dolby Atmos is watching Gravity – you can almost feel the temperature of your living room drop as you drift through space, alongside Sandra Bullock. Finally, the audio can match the 360-degree movement of the camera, flinging debris at you from all angles.
Dolby Atmos takes gaming to a new level. Feel like a Jedi as you take on Darth Vader in Star Wars Battlefront, while all around you AT-AT walkers crunch through the snow, and X-Wings thunder above. Battlefield 1 in Dolby Atmos brings a terrifying level of confusion to its World War One setting.
And thanks to advancements in wireless technology and a new generation of soundbars, Dolby Atmos is available to more Australians. The Samsung HW-K950 soundbar uses 15 built-in speakers, including four upward-firing drivers. With just the soundbar, a wireless subwoofer, and two wireless rear speakers, you can get true Dolby Atmos cinematic sound without the installation of speakers, or the hassle of snaking cables around a room.