Dolby Atmos Optimization for Home Theaters

Whether you’re looking to upgrade your home theater sound system or are building one from scratch, some common questions often come up. Questions like:

  • How do I lay out the speakers?
  • What’s the best setup for my home theater?
  • Just what the heck do those numbers (5.1.2, 7.1.4, 9.1.4, etc.) mean anyway?

Our aim in this post is to answer these questions you have and to get the home theater of your dreams tuned in and sounding perfect.

The Best Surround Sound for You

Traditionally, most surround sound systems have run on a 5.1 system. This means that you have 5 speakers for your surround ( two front, one center, and two surround), with one subwoofer. Recently, with the arrival of Blu-Ray and 4K technology, surround sound has been buffed up to 7.1 and even 9.1! Each system and number of speakers depend on the size of your home theater, the material of the walls, as well as compatibility with your devices. But generally speaking, the front, center, and surround speakers are all arranged at listening level, and aimed at the prime listening station.

The release of Dolby Atmos to home theaters in 2014 allowed speakers to be placed on the ceiling, thus adding new numbers to the designations. Now 5.1 systems became 5.1.2 or 5.1.4, 7.1 became 7.1.2 or 7.1.4, and so on.

Speaker Layout with Dolby Atmos

Upgrading your home stereo doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. If you have an existing 5.1 or 7.1 system, the addition of two or four Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers integrates with your system to create Dolby Atmos. However, with the addition of extra speakers, adjusting the other speakers is often necessary to ensure the sound is being delivered to the right place and at the right time. Also, since you’re plugging in more speakers, an A/V receiver capable of running extra speakers and that is Dolby Atmos compatible is a necessary upgrade.

The addition of two or four speakers depends on your home theater room. If you have only one row of couches or seats, two speakers are added to the ceiling and are angled between 65°-100° from the listening position. If you have a smaller room, a 5.1.2 is optimal. 5.1.4 is a great system to set up if you have two listening positions; the primary listening position which consists of your couches or seats on the ground, and the secondary listening position, which is behind the primary and elevated slightly so viewing is not compromised. The angles are also different from just one listening area to compensate for having two positions, usually 35°-55° from the center of the listening areas.

Optimizing Your Home Theater

So now you know that creating an optimal home theater involves the size of your room, the number of listening positions available, and the type of speakers you want. Each room will have unique specifications and will be customized according to your needs. Contact us here for an on-site, no obligation quote on how to best get you tuned in to Dolby Atmos.

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