What HiFi and Atmos

A timely article on Dolby Atmos and music.

My one question:  "Is it as good as MQA?"   Yes, it's a ridiculous question.  😁




PS - Yeah, I’m not taking Atmos seriously at all. I mean, it IS high tech, but for many reasons, for music, I see this as similar to MQA, a whole new marketing brand desperately trying to fulfill a need I never had.

I mean, wasn't DVD and then BluRay music 2 and 4x better than CD's?  How is that going? Nowhere.  Absolutely nowhere.

Even for movies getting to 5 speakers in the home is a big lift for most. Now you want height speakers too?  Hahahahahah. For the 10 seconds of effects in a movie that use them?  Please.  This technology is far better reserved for actual theaters than home technology.


Thank you for starting this thread! I have an MQA streamer with a Bluesound Node and a Dolby Atmos streamer with an X-Box Series S. Atmos is very, very enjoyable on my rig which has been meticulously setup to support immersive audio. You just can’t compare object based and channel based. My advice is to not make this about either/or. Take advantage of both. The other thing is how much more can they do with two channel in terms of the files? The best two channel is analog vinyl and it probably peaked more than twenty years ago. Atmos is very early and is getting better every month IMO. The classic albums remastered in Atmos are nice. The NEW music being mastered in Atmos is more interesting.
Myth- You need more than two speakers for Atmos. No, it plays back fine with two speakers or headphones.

Myth- You can slap any speaker on the ceiling to do atmos. No, Atmos has very clear specs by dolby and is easy to follow because the specs are the same for the studios as they are the consumer.

So, I think this is a healthy debate and I am not advocating one is better universally. I am advocating to have both.
I don’t want to hijack your thread but the stuff to check out is NOT from the labels, NOT from Dolby but from the engineers who have been mixing in two channel. Just listen to what they have to share about mixing in atmos, and keep in mind, this is still like less than 5 years since Apple launched spatial audio, very early days.

I’m not against listeners enjoying 50 channel music if that’s their thing.

I just don’t see the need en masse. If it does take off it’s going to be like the Windows tax, when you could not buy a PC without also paying Microsoft, regardless of your choice of OS.

The other thing to keep in mind is that object based sound reproduction always puts a CPU and software between the speakers and the source, so the idea of bit-perfect reproduction goes entirely out the window.

I think what we really need are drone Atmos speakers.  So you can deploy them and have them move around to the ideal location without physically installing anything.  Of course, they'd have to be rechargeable.

I’m not against listeners enjoying 50 channel music

This is NOT Atmos, MQA or a valid setup of any type.

I just don’t see the need en masse.

OK, that is a preference. Is it all about you? No.

I think what we really need are drone Atmos speakers

Now you are just trolling, I won’t go there. If you take your current investment in your system ($150K?) and divide by 10 you will have enough for a VERY proper Atmos setup (actually you could do it for less than $10K).

This <$15K build will play all files including immersive, video, audio, MQA , vinyl and stereo. Spend the remaining $135K on whatever.

Now you are just trolling, I won’t go there.

It was clearly a joke, not a troll. If it was a troll it would have to be something like realistic. However the joke illustrated a sincere perspective and personal opinion:

5.1 speakers is as far as I’m willing to go. It’s not even about the money, it’s about wiring, speaker location, etc. It is a value choice.

I just don’t see the need en masse.

OK, that is a preference. Is it all about you? No.

Actually I was making a prediction. It’s not all about me. Others will do as they will and so long as it doesn’t cost me money that’s fine. I am however predicting that the majority of music listeners don’t care or need Atmos or Atmos systems. Will the Dolby branding however will push us towards that? I will be really shocked if they are that good a snake oil vendor.

Yes, you can listen to Atmos on 2 speakers, but then, why on earth have I interjected all the CPU and software required to translate object based recordings for music to 2 speakers?

At least MQA made some plausible claims for improving the performance of individual DAC's based on their performance characteristics.  Dolby Atmos for music listening leaves me scratching my head. 

Dolby Atmos for music listening leaves me scratching my head. 

The resources I used when checking out Atmos music were the engineers, you can find many resources on youtube from engineers and srtists.



FWIW your room would sound incredible once you hear a good atmos mix in it. It pressurizes a room much different than stereo.


Well you've certainly proven they have a lot of marketing materials out there. :D

Time will tell.

You didn’t answer my question, what do you think of those speakers??

Class G amplification for the woofer and mid drivers, class A/B for the tweeter?

Look at the reviews on the 8 inch monitors you use for L-C-R channels:




That’s a great complete home sound system! I could put a pair in every room in my house. I wish a pair of them were weather resistant though then I could even cover the deck. :)

So you basically have no opinion of the actual speaker? I thought you were an expert on speakers, but I guess not, OK, NP.


This is a good way to get started, you already have a good room and bed channels. You need to upgrade your receiver (and can stick with Anthem for that) and add 4 of these Focal Domes (passive):


Totally apples and oranges, 



Atmos and DTS-X

would a better comparison

I was excited about Atmos music at first but quickly cooled. I would like music mixes for 5 or 7 channels arrayed across the front, not surround sound. I don't care about height channels. They can throw those in if they want. The Atmos mixes I've heard were kind of nice in some ways but they're not doing what I'd really like. The potential is there  but it's not going to happen just to suit my tastes. They often don't even use the center channel for center panned vocals or instruments, or if they do, they mix it in weakly, using the left and right front channel to create a traditional phantom center image, maybe slightly augmented by the center. I know some people like that better but I say what's the point? If I'm stuck with a phantom center image again I'll just as soon go back to 2 speakers for simplicity and practically the same sound. I'm not concerned about bit perfect. I've tested myself and found that digital volume control and other DSP like oversampling or converting bit depth and sample rate work just fine for me. Whatever they degrade isn't what I'm listening for. I hear inter aural cross talk problems much louder than any issue with digital. Maybe some day AI tech will allow spectacular sounding on-the-fly up-mixes of 2 channel recordings to suit my tastes. 

I would like music mixes for 5 or 7 channels arrayed across the front, 

You can use DTS-Neural X upmixer, with a L-C-R speakers and two wide channels

Post if you need help with setup



Atmos? MQA? Apples and oranges…


My point in the comparison was not that they were similar technically, or even that they achieved similar goals, so of course MQA and Atmos are not comparable in those ways.

It was in the dimension of marketing innovation that these two brands look similar to me.

To my mind, both MQA and Atmos music create an answer for a problem that doesn’t exist. They are furhter similar in that at a very high level both these brands interjecting new technology in an old reproduction chain.

Atmos music may be profoundly different in technology than that was available 10 years ago, but it’s driving over old roads first attemtped by Yamaha and others which never went far.

Will Atmos music succeed anymore than music DVD or Bluray? I have a poor track record of making predictions but it will surprise me.

create an answer for a problem that doesn’t exist.

It doesn’t exist for you because you took 30 years and $$$ to build a SOA system, simple. You are extremely happy, NP. The problem for me was I didn’t want to spend that much for 2 channel music only. I wanted one system for everything.

Now the problem for the industry, how do you get gen x and z to upgrade from their ear buds? I use an x-box as my atmos source and guess who else does:

Following the onset of Covid-19, activity on digital campfire platforms exploded, especially among Gen Z audiences, roughly defined as those born after 1997 or between the ages of nine and 24 today. In fact, the biggest cultural moments to capture the attention of young audiences in 2020 happened on digital campfire platforms, not traditional social ones:

It’s no accident that many digital campfires are either games or platforms that began as gathering places for gamers. Gaming has spilled over into the broader culture in recent years. Today, “gaming” is not just for “gamers” — it represents a new paradigm for interacting online.




I don’t see why the bee got in your bonnet on this one.  OK, you made your point, you don’t think Atmos will succeed with the general public.  Most of the general public is happy with earbuds and sound bars.  You win.  
   As for multichannel enthusiasts, many enjoy the feeling of being within the mix.  I have a 5.1 in addition to my two channel system and yes I do enjoy recordings specifically mixed to make me feel as if I am in the middle of the Orchestra .  This month Sound and Vision has an article about a guy remixing Tom Petty recordings for Atmos  and he tries to place the listener between the guitarists.  So as for many things in this specialized hobby, most people will greet it with incomprehension, but a small number of us enjoy these developments.  If not for you, fine, but there are more flavors in this ice cream store than chocolate and vanilla

I just dipped my toes into SACD (and Dark Side of Moon made me KEEP it!) on my 5.1 (but mostly 2.1) system. It will NOT replace my 2 channel (CD, not streaming, but likely will also add streaming if I can find reasonably priced FILES I can download to add to my ripped CD for computer playback ease of use). I wonder of if my (new to me) Oppo 103 and Onkyo TX-RZ810 are EQUIPPED to play Dolby Atmos material?


Onkyo TX-RZ810 is equipped for Atmos. You can use your Oppo 103 to bitstream Atmos out via HDMI as long as the disc is NOT 4K. Netflix streaming should be fine. What speakers are you using in your current rig? BTW, kraftwerk the band has an outstanding atmos blueray available. I have an Onkyo receiver in the mancave in an atmos setup, they make GREAT receivers:

Surround Processing
Dolby Digital DD, TrueHD, DD+
Dolby Atmos Yes
Dolby Atmos Height Virtualization ---
DTS DTS, HD, HDMA, ES, 96/24
DTS:X Firmware update

@kota1 My current mains are B&W Nautilus 804 and the dot 1 is a Dayton UM18-22 in sealed enclosure driven by ED LT1300 amp. 


@kota1 Kraftwerk (the band, not the turbo) multichannel: title/version (link?) and is it really GOOD (technically)? And no, I don't see myself ever to use height channels (too complex for me to install).

@kota1 Instead of height speakers: with the importance of the center speaker in 5.1, I need to upgrade mine (had limited choice, needed an ultra low profile).

What would be a good match for the Nautilus 804?

And no, I can't afford a Nautilus HTM1 or HTM2. More like a used CC6 (how bad is that one). 

yes, for headphone I listen to Apple Music Atmos music is awesome, but never try on AV RECEIVER multi channel system. 

The Sony 360 Reality Audio is even better on headphone.