A while ago we already extensively considered what Dolby Atmos is exactly , but now that we are busy setting up a home theater with Dolby Atmos, we will go deeper into the speaker setup, to discuss Placing Dolby Atmos speakers and connecting them to a receiver.
What is Dolby Atmos?
Dolby Atmos is simply a way / standard to make the surround experience even more impressive. The main feature of Dolby Atmos is the surround effects that take place above the listening position. As a result, the falling rain on a roof or an aircraft flying over is displayed more realistically and you as a listener are immersed in the action.
The speaker setup in Placing Dolby Atmos speakers
Dolby Atmos is on the one hand a new technology / standard in which audio objects can move freely in space (you no longer have the feeling that a sound comes from a specific speaker with it in the middle of the sound, it surrounds you) and on the other hand a new speaker setup. whereby speakers located on the ceiling play an important role.
The speaker setup is indicated differently with Dolby Atmos than we are used to. We know the 5.1 setup or the 7.1 setup, but with Dolby Atmos extra speakers are added. These ‘height’ speakers are listed as 7.1.4 or 5.1.2. In the first case you have four height speakers (two in the front and two in the back) and in the second case you have two height speakers in the front or center of the room. There are many different options, ranging from 5.1.2 to 9.1.2. We have opted for a 7.1.4 setup in our room , which looks like the example below.
However, not every room is perfect for a Dolby Atmos setup, let alone as perfect as the square box in the image above. There are some guidelines you can adhere to when placing the speakers. You can find these guidelines on the Dolby website, including the height and angle of the speakers.
The best way to use Dolby Atmos in the living room is to place speakers above the listening position, in / against the ceiling. You can use all types of speakers for this, even the speakers that you already have in your 5.1-channel or 7.1-channel setup. The speakers don’t have to be able to do anything special. However, if you are going to install speakers in the wall or ceiling, it is advisable to take special built-in speakers for this.
Receiver with Dolby Atmos
For all this, a receiver / amplifier is needed that can decode the Dolby Atmos audio track and then send it to the various speakers. First of all, you look at the setup you want to use. Each channel in the setup needs its own amplifier. If you are going for a 5.1.2-channel setup, you need 7 amplifiers for the speakers and a connection for the subwoofer. If you are going for a 7.1.4-channel setup, you need 11 amplified channels and one channel for the subwoofer. Then you can look at receivers that support Dolby Atmos (almost every new model today). Go for a receiver that can control / amplify the number of channels you want to connect. Most receivers with Dolby Atmos can control seven or nine channels. At the time of writing, there are no (affordable) receivers that can control 11 channels themselves. But, there is also a solution for this. The receivers that can control seven or nine channels often indicate that they support a 7.1.4 (or 11-channel) setup. This can be done by connecting nine channels to the speaker connections and then connecting two channels via an external amplifier (stereo amplifier).
In our case, the front speakers, the center, the surround back speakers, the surround speakers and the front top speakers are connected directly to the receiver (Denon AVR-X7200W). The rear top speakers (height speakers at the back of the room) are connected to a stereo amplifier from Denon. This amplifier is connected to the pre-out output for the Height2 channels on the receiver via a cinch cable (red / white). The manual of the receiver you choose often describes exactly how you can realize this setup and which connections you should use.
As indicated above, not every space is ideal and our space is already one of the most difficult jobs in terms of shape. We have set up the attic as a Dolby Atmos home cinema and the sloping roof made simple placement of the speakers on the ceiling not an option. After a lot of testing and measuring, we were able to achieve an ideal setup (for this room), as can be seen in the photos below. The two height speakers for the rear are located close to the listening position, but due to the acoustic adjustments they come across as if they are higher in the room. The height speakers at the front are at the correct height and are turned down slightly to reach the listening position perfectly. The sloping roof also works to our advantage as it made the acoustics fairly neutral to begin with.
The Dolby Atmos setup regarding Placing Dolby Atmos speakers that you can use in your living room depends on what your receiver or amplifier offers and of course what the possibilities of speakers in the room are. You can fit a sleeve to every room, and with some testing and measurement you can also create the ideal Atmos setup.