Dolby Atmos isn't on the Apple TV 4K yet, but it is a must for home theater fans

Posted:
in iPod + iTunes + AppleTV edited June 2018
At last year's September iPhone release event, Apple also unveiled the Apple TV 4K, supporting the latest video technologies like Dolby Vision and HDR10 -- but minus Dolby Atmos. AppleInsider delves into Atmos versus surround sound, and what you can expect when support comes in the fall.





AppleInsider purchased the Apple TV 4K immediately after release. I've enjoyed watching 4K movies on my theatre system, but Dolby Atmos surround sound has been absent. Dolby Atmos allows sound engineers to place sound "objects" in 3D space, with reproduction of that sound seemingly coming from that direction.

Apple TV on entertainment center



Because of the lack of Atmos, I constantly switched back and forth between the Apple TV 4K and my Xbox One X, which supports Atmos. I can't imagine that I'm the only one who would do this, after hearing Atmos in action.

Apple promised Atmos would arrive in a future update, and now that WWDC 2018 has come and gone, we know support is coming to the Apple TV 4K with tvOS 12, this September.

Dolby Atmos on Apple TV 4K announcement at WWDC


So, as a result, the iTunes Store has yet to get movies updated with the feature. To compare Atmos and surround sound, we're going to head over to Netflix and try out "The Punisher," which we know for sure supports Atmos on our Xbox One X.

Dolby Atmos upper speakers
Dolby Atmos upper speakers


With the Netflix app on the Xbox One X, the film is HDR instead of Dolby Vision. So, for picture quality alone the Apple TV 4K will beat out the Xbox One X, and is going to be able to support up to 12 bits of color and up to 10,000 nits of brightness in addition to Atmos, when support finally rolls out.

While you're watching a YouTube video, it's hard to give the full effect of Dolby Atmos versus a surround sound system. We'll use our Zoom H6 Recorder and get close to the Atmos speakers so you can hear what kind of sounds they put out, and hopefully that'll give you a good idea of what you can expect on the Apple TV 4K.




The Dolby Atmos definitely adds another layer of depth. You can hear breathing sounds from above when there's a first person view scene in the show. Completely different sounds are coming from the other speakers, so Atmos definitely adds to the experience.

I just heard some crows in the woods, and it's interesting because I didn't hear that from the rear speakers, or from the front. I only heard it from the upper channel of the Atmos speakers, just like if you were actually in the woods, and you're hearing the crows above you.

In another scene, we heard a stabbing sound from only the center channel and the Atmos speakers, while the front and rear speakers played background music.

There was also some shooting scenes, where we would hear gunshots from either the front left, front right, right left and rear right speakers, depending on where the gunshots came from in the show, just like you would hear if you were on-set or immersed in the action.

If anything happens above you, like a drone or helicopter making a low pass above you, instead of everything happening on a flat plane with stereo separation, the Atmos system models that pass, and regulates the sound from the different channels to better simulate that fly-over.

It's very clever how they're mapping the sound, and it really adds to the experience. Dolby Atmos will be a great addition to the Apple TV 4K -- when it arrives. Fortunately, if you have a big iTunes movie library, you'll be ready -- like it did with HD videos to 4K, Apple also announced that once Atmos goes live, any eligible titles you've previously purchased will be automatically upgraded for free!

So we're glad Apple is adding this, and I definitely think that this will help Apple sell more Apple TV 4K's, as well as more movies on iTunes. It will be the only player that can play from Amazon, Netflix, and iTunes on one box.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 46
    indiekidukindiekiduk Posts: 275member
    Home Atmos is as bad as LieMax or maybe even worse!
    edited June 2018
  • Reply 2 of 46
    ttollertonttollerton Posts: 164member
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    racerhomie3
  • Reply 3 of 46
    KuyangkohKuyangkoh Posts: 254member
    Atmos capable speaker systems are expensive....
    scoty
  • Reply 4 of 46
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple is never the first, but it is always the best.
    brometheusbb-15argonaut
  • Reply 5 of 46
    nunzy said:
    Apple is never the first, but it is always the best.
    Never!?!?... the hell are you talking about? You're statement would be better said if it was "Apple is usually first and if not its to do better."
    nunzywilliamlondonwatto_cobraclaire1MacProAlex1Njony0
  • Reply 6 of 46
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,363member
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    edited June 2018 watto_cobrascotyAlex1N
  • Reply 7 of 46
    macxpressmacxpress Posts: 4,706member
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    Who ever said it won't? That is more of a software thing than a hardware thing. I don't see why it can't be added in a future firmware update. Does AirPlay 2 support Dolby Atmos?

    Perhaps by the time tvOS is out in the fall HomePod will support it, or at least shortly afterwards. 
    edited June 2018 watto_cobrascotyAlex1N
  • Reply 8 of 46
    StrangeDaysStrangeDays Posts: 6,508member
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    How come the more expensive, brand new, Sonos Beam doesn’t have Atmos? Will Sonos customers have to upgrade to a future product? Will there be outrage?
    edited June 2018 lkruppwatto_cobraracerhomie3Alex1N
  • Reply 9 of 46
    belzabobbelzabob Posts: 1unconfirmed, member
    Atmos is no big deal. Yawn
    elijahgpeterhartlkruppwilliamlondonargonaut
  • Reply 10 of 46
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,610member
    Great Video Max.   My ears are green with envy of your set up.
  • Reply 11 of 46
    k2kwk2kw Posts: 1,610member
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    How come the more expensive, brand new, Sonos Beam doesn’t have Atmos? Will Sonos customers have to upgrade to a future product? Will there be outrage?
    Yep. , I’m going to Pass on the Sonos because of lack of Atmos in Beam.   Maybe if they come out with a new PlayBar or PlayBase with Atmos I’ll be interested.
  • Reply 12 of 46
    avon b7avon b7 Posts: 3,179member
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    How come the more expensive, brand new, Sonos Beam doesn’t have Atmos? Will Sonos customers have to upgrade to a future product? Will there be outrage?
    It's more expensive but the price is still trimmed down. 

    https://www.whathifi.com/features/sonos-talks-dolby-atmos-dts-sound-quality-and-beam-soundbar

    muthuk_vanalingam
  • Reply 13 of 46
    mac_128mac_128 Posts: 3,363member
    macxpress said:
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    Who ever said it won't? That is more of a software thing than a hardware thing. I don't see why it can't be added in a future firmware update. Does AirPlay 2 support Dolby Atmos?

    Perhaps by the time tvOS is out in the fall HomePod will support it, or at least shortly afterwards. 
    I don’t recall anybody said it would or wouldn’t. It just occurred to me that Apple announced ATMOS was coming to the ATV, and the HomePods should handle ATMOS extremely well, given their design.

    Agreed it should just be a firmware thing. I don’t know why AP2 would even be a consideration since it’s just a digital stream that’s sent to the speaker.

    I’m just surprised if support were coming for the HP, that it wasn’t likewise announced alongside the ATV support. It would certainly be a selling point.

    Perhaps, if the ATV is decoding for ATMOS, the HP will simply output ATMOS sound without necessarily needing any special updates, so it’s a moot point? Maybe it’s a BT issue, since the speaker otherwise won’t support ATMOS from a third party BT device. Saying it supports ATMOS would be misleading if it’s not actually decoding it itself. Or maybe it actually is a licensing/hardware issue, requiring a chip to decode it in the HP.

    Either way I don’t see it as negative, since HPs aren’t necessarily being sold as sound systems for an ATV. 


    Alex1N
  • Reply 14 of 46
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,493member
    What ARE the differences between ATMOS and the current algorithms Apple uses in the HomePod I wonder? They would appear similar on paper.

    Also, is a sound bar sufficient for ATMOS?
    edited June 2018 williamlondonAlex1N
  • Reply 15 of 46
    dewmedewme Posts: 1,894member
    Re: "In another scene, we heard a stabbing sound from only the center channel and the Atmos speakers, while the front and rear speakers played background music."

    Hmm, I think I'll just live within the blissful audible ignorance of only hearing the background music and consider my life no less fulfilled for a lack of hearing the stabbing sounds. 

    Returning to my happy place ......
    watto_cobraStrangeDaysAlex1N
  • Reply 16 of 46
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,085member
    Anyone have an Atmos soundbar? Is it actually effective?
  • Reply 17 of 46
    claire1claire1 Posts: 494unconfirmed, member
    Will HomePod 2 be Atmos ready? Do you think it could have top firing speakers?
  • Reply 18 of 46
    MacProMacPro Posts: 17,868member
    claire1 said:
    Will HomePod 2 be Atmos ready? Do you think it could have top firing speakers?
    With two HomePods working together and their beam forming technology I suspect there could easily be at the very least a pseudo ATMOS surround sound effect created  when used with an TV 4K if not the real thing.
    edited June 2018 Alex1Nclaire1
  • Reply 19 of 46
    19831983 Posts: 1,142member
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    ATMOS speakers need to be able to fire upwards reflecting sound off the ceiling. Or have compatible speakers installed in the ceiling to produce the required effect. Very few current sound bars are able to produce ATMOS sound effects. Only some recent official ATMOS compatible models with said upfiring speakers built in are eligible. As for the HomePod, I believe that incorporates an upfiring speaker, so theoretically might be compatible with the standard after a future firmware upgrade. Though it’s upfiring speaker is predominantly for bass. ATMOS upfiring speakers work in the mid to high frequency ranges I believe, so not actually sure if the HomePod is capable or not.
    edited June 2018 vadimyuryevAlex1N
  • Reply 20 of 46
    crowleycrowley Posts: 5,635member
    mac_128 said:
    macxpress said:
    mac_128 said:
    Appreciate all of the info in this piece on Atmos!  Hard to get context from the video, but I should probably get a sound bar.  :)  
    Since ATMOS can be experienced with a simple sound bar, shouldn’t ATMOS come to the HomePod? I would think with the dynamically adjusting speakers it would be a simple thing to create an ATMOS experience on the HomePod? Or will HomePod customers have to buy HP Series 1 (assuming the current model is S0), in order to upgrade to ATMOS?
    Who ever said it won't? That is more of a software thing than a hardware thing. I don't see why it can't be added in a future firmware update. Does AirPlay 2 support Dolby Atmos?

    Perhaps by the time tvOS is out in the fall HomePod will support it, or at least shortly afterwards. 
    I don’t recall anybody said it would or wouldn’t. It just occurred to me that Apple announced ATMOS was coming to the ATV, and the HomePods should handle ATMOS extremely well, given their design.

    Agreed it should just be a firmware thing. I don’t know why AP2 would even be a consideration since it’s just a digital stream that’s sent to the speaker.

    I’m just surprised if support were coming for the HP, that it wasn’t likewise announced alongside the ATV support. It would certainly be a selling point.

    Perhaps, if the ATV is decoding for ATMOS, the HP will simply output ATMOS sound without necessarily needing any special updates, so it’s a moot point? Maybe it’s a BT issue, since the speaker otherwise won’t support ATMOS from a third party BT device. Saying it supports ATMOS would be misleading if it’s not actually decoding it itself. Or maybe it actually is a licensing/hardware issue, requiring a chip to decode it in the HP.

    Either way I don’t see it as negative, since HPs aren’t necessarily being sold as sound systems for an ATV. 


    For a HP to support ATMOS, wouldn't it have to be aware of the position and orientation of the TV (and the viewer too, maybe?)?

    That seems to be a couple steps beyond what the HP does at the moment.
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