Ever since Dolby Atmos debuted in commercial theaters back in 2012, people have been asking when it would be coming to home theaters. Now, you can stop asking and start buying. Well, you should be able to start buying by the fall, anyway.
The hook on Dolby Atmos is that the audio technology can deliver sound from a variety of different directions, including above you. It can support a whopping 64 discrete speakers, making it a truly immersive audio experience—one that has been limited to select movie theaters up until this point.
While you probably won’t be installing that many speakers (maybe?), Dolby has come up with a way to make the same magic at home. For most, this will involve replacing a receiver, although a few manufacturers will also offer upgrades to existing products. According to Dolby, you can install a bunch of speakers in your ceiling. However, if that’s not an option, there will be several new Dolby Atmos-equipped speakers, which can deliver overhead sound from wherever you install them. And if you aren’t willing to part with your favorite set of speakers, there will be an add-on, Dolby Atmos-enabled speaker module.
Being able to use existing speakers, as well as new speakers mounted at eye or floor level, involves a lot of complicated technology. However, Dolby says that it basically “comes down to understanding the physics of sound waves and understanding the way your brain interprets those sound waves.”
As mentioned, it also comes down to replacing your receiver—and maybe your speakers, if you’re so inclined. (Just know that you can keep your existing Blu-ray player—whew!) Yesterday, our own Grant Clauser told you that Pioneer had announced plans to release Atmos-enabled Elite speakers and SC receivers. Denon, Integra, Onkyo and Marantz also debuted plans for products with Dolby Atmos in mind.
Denon will have two Dolby Atmos-enabled receivers sometime in September. Each one can power 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 configurations with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration. This basically means you can have a full 5.1-channel setup with four extra speakers mounted above or 7.1 sound with two speakers above. Of course, you can also opt for the aforementioned Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers and put them wherever you want. The AVR-X5200W will be able to support a full 11-channel setup, taking advantage of the 7.1.4 Dolby Atmos configuration. In other words, it can do a 7.1 setup, with four additional speakers overhead or using four Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers. The company will also put the power of Dolby Atmos into the AVR-X4100W.
Integra is planning three new AVRs, as well as firmware upgrades for the DTR-30.6, the DTR-40.6 and the DTR-50.6. The new models include the DTR-60.6, the DTR-70.6, and the flagship DHC-80.6 Network A/V Controller. All three will have dual 32-bit DSP engines to decode, scale and calibrate Dolby Atmos. Right now, there’s no other information on the new products, but those firmware updates are expected this September.
A new AVR and a preamp/processor are also coming from Marantz. Like Denon, the SR7009 and the AV7702 will have Audyssey MultEQ XT32 calibration and work with 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 configurations. The AV7702 preamp will go a few steps (or speakers) further, supporting a full 11-channel Dolby Atmos setup or the 7.1.4 configuration. The SR7009 AVR is expected to be available in September, with the AV7702 shipping in October.
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Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.