Just a few months ago, you probably wouldn’t have seen the words “affordable” and “Dolby Atmos” in the same sentence—anywhere. However, we are finally starting to see some of those Dolby Atmos receivers come down in price.
Are they cheap? Well, no. However, Dolby Atmos is not really meant to be a cheap experience. After all, it takes some serious technology to make it seem like planes are flying over your head in your living room. More specifically, it takes technology and some additional equipment.
Getting one of the aforementioned Dolby Atmos receivers is a must. This type of receiver has the capability to decode Atmos-enabled content. Yes, you will need that too. Right now, there are a decent number of Blu-rays with Dolby Atmos tracks. The good news is that you won’t need a special Blu-ray player and even if you don’t plan to upgrade to an Atmos-capable system in the immediate future, those Blu-rays will still work with your existing home theater setup.
And finally, you will need additional speakers. Those speakers need to go on the ceiling or you can opt for Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers, which project audio upward and “reflect” that sound off the ceiling. In other words, these speakers make it sound like you have speakers on the ceiling, without the need for a ladder. The minimum speaker configuration for Dolby Atmos is 5.1.2 or 7.1.2. Each one is your basic 5.1 or 7.1 setup, with two ceiling or Atmos-enabled speakers. There are options for more speakers, however.
It will: depend on what: that receiver can handle. As in any other home theater system, the receiver is the cornerstone of this setup. While you shouldn’t skimp on this piece of equipment, there are a few affordable Dolby Atmos receivers currently on the market. Let’s take a peek at three models priced under $500.
This 7.2-channel receiver doesn’t just support Dolby Atmos, 4K/60Hz video, HDCP 2.2, and the 21:9 aspect ratio. Promising 95 watts per channel (8ohms, 20-20kHz, 0.08%, 2-ch driven), it’s also perfect for high-res audio fans who want to pair this with a PC, a NAS or even a smartphone. It has: Qdeo upscaling that can boost low-res content to full HD or near-4K quality (if you have a 4K TV), as well as WRAT (Wide Range Amplifier Technology) and Onkyo’s own Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry for the front and center channels. Other features include built-in WiFi, Bluetooth and DLNA, two 32-bit DSP engines, an HDMI/MHL terminal on the front, six HDMI inputs around back, a dedicated phono input, and options for a second zone.
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MSRP: $399 (on Amazon)
For More Information: Hands On: Onkyo Receiver TX-NR636 Rocks Dolby Atmos
This 7.2-channel receiver looks a lot like the one mentioned above. It has the Dolby Atmos and the 4K/HDCP 2.2 support. It also: has the WiFi, Bluetooth and DLNA. It even delivers the same 95 watts per channel (8ohms, 20-20kHz, 0.08%, 2-ch driven). However, it does add in THX Select2 Plus certification and a second HDMI output. Other features include the Wide Range Amplifier Technology (WRAT), the: Qdeo upscaling, Three-Stage Inverted Darlington Circuitry amplification, dual Digital Signal Processing (DSP) engines, 192 kHz/24-bit Burr-Brown D/A conversion, the Advanced Music Optimizer DSP, InstaPrevue technology, and: seven HDMI inputs (with one getting MHL support as well).
Hey, it’s a receiver that’s not made by Onkyo! This last option is Denon’s 7.2-channel receiver, which promises 80 watts per channel (8ohms, 20Hz-20kHz, 0.08% 2-ch driven). It also features the latest HDMI 2.0a spec for 4K/60Hz content, 4:4:4 Pure Color sub-sampling, HDR (High Dynamic Range), Rec.2020 color space capability, and 21:9 aspect ratio pass-through. It can even support HDCP 2.2 on all six of the receiver’s HDMI inputs. Other features include a quad-core 32-bit DSP processor, WiFi, Bluetooth, Apple AirPlay, Audysssey MultiEQ setup room calibration, web radio and access to streaming music services, DLNA 1.5, two subwoofer outputs, and support for Denon HEOS Link.
Don’t have a budget? Check out additional Dolby Atmos receivers: that are out now.