The latest surround sound technology - Dolby Atmos
So! Things have come a long way since 5.1 and 7.1 ! channel surround sound. It creeped its way up to 9.1 and 9.2 etc.. Now if all of that is gibberish to you, then things should start to make sense to you shortly.
Surround sound gained popularity when 5.1 came out. The 5 stands for 5x speakers and the 0.1 stands for a subwoofer. A sub woofer does the 'bass' or low frequencies and all the other speakers do well, basically the 'rest of the sound' - the treble etc. The 5 speakers were placed around the room in front of you and behind you basically.. covering all corners of the room. Think of a 2d map - East, South , North and West... well 5.1 covered each direction and if the speakers were positioned correctly and the setup was SETUP correctly.. when you heard the speaker behind you (to the rear right) make a helicopter sound - it did its job. You felt as though they're may have been a helicopter behind you.
Make sense so far? So what's 7.1 and 9.1 and dolby atmos?
Well 7.1 is essentially the same as 5.1 but more speakers are crammed into the circle - so to speak. In addition to hearing sound in front of you, and behind you.. you could now hear sound to your immediate sides - left & right. Then 9.1 and it just crammed more into the circle again.
Now, Dolby Atmos
Now you have a very basic understanding of surround sound channels... imagine you flip that compass on its side and all of a sudden you have up, down, diagonal up, diagonal down. The surround sound genises at Dobly Studios, THX and Hollywood etc. realised that in the real world.. you might live in an apartment, or a 2 storey house, you might be in a plane or driving a car.. and sounds can come from beneath you, above you, and not only that.. sounds can vary in proximity!!
In the real world you can hear something behind you, but your ears are clever enough to pick up if an object is getting further away or closer to you, can't they!
Well this has essentially been programmed into DOLBY ATMOS! Welcome to the latest, total immersive listening experience!! It's now an audible world where when you're watching a movie or any content.. the sound is more realistic than ever. Sounds come from more directions and proximity variances are more noticeable when speakers work in unison as opposed to 1 speaker that is just varying a pitches volume (to simulate proximity changes).
How does Dolby Atmos work and how does it achieve the above?
Basically, its all about MORE speakers! If your budget allows for it.. it makes all the difference to the experience ... and uurggh aahhh sometimes your pocket as well. More speakers mean more expensive amps and more cables, and also.. more installation labour. BUT....
the experience is phenominal!
We've installed a few hundred now, and just like when surround sound first came out, - once you experience it, you can't go back! It truly is amazing.
So firstly.. a combination of speakers are installed in a 7.1 or 9.1 layout. We also add some in-ceiling speakers or highly-placed, in-wall speakers to take care of the "height channels" . These really have an effect on your ears that will make you think it's actually raining! Next we definitely need two (2) sub woofers. Two subs give that proximity effect.. that feeling that objects are getting closer, or getting further away from you. Having two subs takes care of that. You can have four.. or even more! But for dobly atmos you need a minimum of two. Typically dobly atmos systems will have between 10 to 14 speakers plus two subs. So that's 10.2 or 14.2 channels etc. An amp that handles 14x channels is also (as of 2023) in the $3k to $4k range.. nope your $1000 amp just aint gonna cut it!
So there you have it- Dolby Atmos! In a nutshell!
We have been installing home theatres for two decades now! Whatever your budget is, we can give you a home theatre that the local cinemas would be jealous of!