[Last Updated: 1 Aug 2019]

 
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Dolby Atmos is one of the most significant developments in cinema audio since surround sound. While traditional surround sound is bounded by physical channels, Dolby Atmos unlocks the possibility for sound to be precisely placed and moved in a three-dimensional space.

With Dolby Atmos-capable soundbar systems, you can envelope yourself in a surround bubble right in the comfort of your own space.

 
 

The Secret to
the Best Dolby Atmos Experience

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Dolby's Recommendation for
Best Atmos Experience

According to Dolby, the only way to ensure a full bandwidth, high quality Dolby Atmos experience is to connect your Dolby Atmos supported source devices (e.g Streaming Boxes, Blu-Ray Players, Gaming Consoles, etc) directly to your Dolby Atmos-certified sound system via HDMI 2.0 connection, followed by connecting your TV to the sound system using HDMI ARC. 

This connection method will ensure that the full resolution of encoded Dolby Atmos data (up to 18 Mbps) will be transmitted to your sound system via a HDMI 2.0 connection (up to 24.5 Mbps).

 
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Dolby Atmos via HDMI ARC = Poor Quality Audio

There are some Dolby Atmos-enabled TVs that are equipped with HDMI ARC connection. Should I connect all my devices to the TV, then send out Dolby Atmos Audio from TV to sound system via HDMI ARC? 

The answer is NO. HDMI ARC's maximum bandwidth is capped at 1 Mbps for low bitrate Dolby Digital Plus but insufficient to handle higher resolution Dolby Atmos of 18 Mbps bitrate resulting in poor or no audio, regardless of what types of HDMI cable is used for the transmission.

Learn more here

 
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The Differences between HDMI and HDMI ARC

Connection TypeHDMIHDMI ARC
Maximum Bitrate25 Mbps1 Mbps
Dolby AtmosFULL QualityLIMITED Quality
Lossless Dolby Atmos / DTS:X (24bit/192kHz)
Uncompressed 7.1
Uncompressed 5.1
Compressed 7.1
Compressed 5.1
Uncompressed Stereo
 
 

The Differences Between the 3 Dolby Atmos Formats

Dolby Atmos, the surround sound technology that encompasses precise placement and movement of individual sounds all around and above listeners to bring entertainment to life, comes in 3 different formats for different playback mediums and devices:

Dolby Atmos in Dolby TrueHD

The Dolby TrueHD audio format delivers Dolby Atmos in its highest resolution and quality. Typically, Dolby Atmos encoded in Dolby TrueHD can only be experienced from a Blu-Ray player (using a Blu-Ray disc) connected via HDMI cable to a Dolby Atmos-enabled sound system. This way, the system will receive and decode the lossless Dolby TrueHD soundtrack at max 24-bit 96kHz – together with all of its object-based audio and positional metadata – resulting in the authentic Dolby Atmos experience as intended by the movie directors.

Dolby Atmos in Dolby Digital Plus

The Dolby Digital Plus audio format delivers Dolby Atmos optimized for digital transmission, i.e. through cable broadcast delivery and major video streaming services including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and Vudu. This audio format compresses the Dolby Atmos content to a sampling rate of 48kHz, resulting in a lower bitrate that is most suitable for online streaming.

Dolby Atmos in Dolby Atmos MAT

Certain content devices, such as Xbox One X/S and Apple TV 4K, come with a Dolby Atmos MAT encoder, which is designed to encode, decode and incorporate Dolby Atmos metadata into lossless pulse-code modulation (PCM) audio. When a sound system receives this audio format, it will recognize it as Dolby Atmos MAT and process the multi-channel PCM audio with the embedded Dolby Atmos information, allowing listeners to experience Dolby Atmos even in PCM audio.

 
 
 

Identifying Dolby Atmos Content on Video Streaming Services (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu)

As Dolby Atmos continues to become mainstream, it is still not the most commonly-found audio format in video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime and Vudu. Therefore, when tuning in to video streaming services, it is important to know how to identify the movie titles mastered in Dolby Atmos, so that you don’t miss out on any ear-candy.

 

Netflix: Look out for the Dolby Atmos logo on the movie title menu.

Amazon Prime: On the Fire TV remote, press the Menu button while the content is playing and look out for audio output options.

Vudu: Look out for the Dolby Atmos logo on the movie title menu

 
 

Dolby Atmos & Dolby Vision Availability
on Video Streaming Devices

Based on Dolby’s recommendations mentioned above, achieving a full-resolution, authentic Dolby Atmos experience is only possible when the audio content is transmitted via HDMI 2.0 from a Dolby Atmos-supported source device to a Dolby Atmos-certified sound system. However, when a video streaming service (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Vudu) is used, not all devices can output Dolby Atmos at the moment.

Here’s a list of devices that currently can output Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision content from various video streaming services.

 
  With Dolby AtmosWith Dolby Atmos & Dolby VisionNot Supported
Dolby Atmos Availabilitynexflixamazon-prime-videovudu
Streaming Devices
Amazon Fire TV Stick 4KDolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos Only
Amazon Fire TV CubeDolby Atmos Only
Amazon Fire TV 4KDolby Atmos Only
Apple TV 4K (with tvOS 12)Dolby Atmos & Dolby VisionDolby Atmos & Dolby VisionDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
(App Version 1.1.1 or later)
Google Chromecast UltraDolby Vision OnlyDolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
Nvidia ShieldDolby Atmos & Dolby VisionDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
Roku Premier+Dolby Atmos OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
Roku Streaming Stick+Dolby Atmos OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
Roku Ultra 4KDolby Atmos & Dolby VisionDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
 
Dolby Atmos Availability nexflix amazon-prime-video vudu
Game Consoles
Playstation 4 PRODolby Vision Only
XBox One XDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision Dolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
XBox One SDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision Dolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
XBox OneDolby Atmos Only
 
Dolby Atmos Availabilitynexflixamazon-prime-videovudu
Bluray Players
LGDolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
(2017 and newer)
PanasonicDolby Vision OnlyDolby Vision Only
PhillipsDolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
(Philips Blu-ray Disc Player 2018 BDP7303/F7)
SamsungDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
(2017 and newer)
Dolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
(UBD-M9500)
SonyDolby Vision OnlyDolby Vision OnlyDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
UBP-X700
VizioDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
(2015 and newer)
 
Dolby Atmos Availabilitynexflixamazon-prime-videovudu
Set-top Box
Verizon Fios IPC2.0Dolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
Verizon Fios VMS2.0Dolby Vision Only
TiVO BoltDolby Atmos & Dolby Vision
 
Dolby Atmos AvailabilitySelected 4K UHD Programs
Set Top Boxes
Direct TV (C61K-700 )
Xfinity (XG1v4)
 

To find out more about Dolby Atmos audio and how to get it on your devices, visit How to know if you’ve got great Dolby Atmos sound

 

Reference:

Netflix’s Dolby Atmos Availability HERE

Netflix’s Dolby Vision Availability HERE

Amazon Prime Video’s Dolby Atmos and Dolby Vision Availability HERE

VUDU’s Dolby Atmos Availability HERE and HERE

Xfinity Dolby Atmos Availability HERE

* Mbps is referred as Mega bits per second. This is typical measuring unit that represents audio bitrate and bandwidth.