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.
Finally, Onkyo plans to release the largest number of Dolby Atmos-equipped products (so far). First up, the company will offer firmware updates for the TX-NR636, TX-NR737, and TX-NR838 network A/V receivers. However, they will also release the TX-NR1030 and the TX-NR3030 network A/V receivers, the PR-SC5530 network A/V controller, the HT-S7700 and the HT-S9700THX HTiB systems, and the SKS-HT693 and the SKH-410 speaker packages.
Each of the AVRs include dual 32-bit DSP engines and seven discrete TI Burr-Brown DACs as well as eight HDMI inputs, three HDMI outputs, and support for 4K video at 60Hz with HDCP 2.2 compatibility for Ultra HD streaming and broadcast video. All three will also have a dedicated HDMI Zone 2 Out for routing 1080p video to a second display, a 4K/60 Hz HDMI Sub Out for a dedicated projector connection, and Marvell’s Qdeo technology.
The new AVR lineup includes the THX Select2 Plus-certified 9.2-channel TX-NR1030 Network A/V Receiver, the 11.2-channel TX-NR3030 Network A/V Receiver, and the THX Ultra2 Plus-certified PR-SC5530 Network A/V Controller. Also worth mentioning is that the TX-NR3030 and the PR-SC5530 have 192 kHz/32-bit processors, with the TX-NR1030 boasting 192 kHz/24-bit two-channel DACs. Other features across the lineup include support for DTS Neo:X, AccuEQ room calibration, a phono input, the Pure Direct Analog Path mode, built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 + EDR streaming.
Shipping this August, the TX-NR1030, TN-NR3030 and PR-SC5530 will be priced at $1,699, $2,399 and $2,499, respectively.
Dolby says that additional Atmos news and products will also be announced in the coming months.
Onkyo’s SKH-410 Dolby Atmos-enabled add-on speaker modules.