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How To Tell If TV Has Dolby Atmos

You bought an expensive new TV with breathtaking graphics and striking Dolby Atmos surround sound. Now you’re ready for your home cinema experience!

But, for some reason, your immersive surround system isn’t grabbing your attention. To put some life in your living room, lend your ears to the experience and knowledge of audio technology professionals and multimedia experts.

You can tell if a TV has Dolby Atmos compatibility by looking up its specifications in the user’s manual, on the manufacturer’s website, or in the TV’s Audio Settings configurations. Most newer TV models will have Atmos compatibility, which you can confirm on the Dolby website compatibility list.

It helps to know whether your TV supports playing Dolby Atmos media, but that is not the end of the story. Dolby Atmos compatibility necessitates an integrated system of carefully planned and placed components working together.

Even when you have all the right pieces, you need to ensure that all the configurations are correct and that there’s nothing wrong with your wiring.

How To Confirm Whether Your TV Supports Dolby Atmos

Since Dolby Atmos compatible media automatically switch over to the appropriate setting, it can be hard to notice when the changes have occurred on your TV.

The audio output of your TV is typically limited to one or two built-in speakers, so the results of your Dolby Atmos on your TV don’t tell you much by themselves.

The lack of current Dolby Atmos content and subtle sound effects complicate identifying Dolby Atmos surround sound. Relying only on audio cues can be deceiving, so combining methods for confirming that Dolby Atmos is working is necessary.

Methods to verify Dolby Atmos compatibility for your TV and sound system:

  • Consult your TV’s manual and the manufacturer specifications on the internet.
  • Search for your TV model on the Dolby website under the Movies & TV tab. They keep lists of TVs that support Dolby Atmos.
  • Check the audio settings of your TV. Any reference to Atmos or Dolby Atmos would imply that your TV can play Dolby Atmos media. 
  • Play a Dolby Atmos designated clip and listen for audio coming from above and changes in the origin of the sound.
  • If you use an A/V receiver to decode audio signals, check if its display identifies the audio codecs. 
  • More advanced soundbars and speaker systems have integrated apps that can identify the audio type they are processing. If you are using such a system, consult the app to verify whether they are playing Dolby Atmos audio.

How Does Dolby Atmos Compare To TV Surround Sound Systems?

Advanced sound engineering efforts have expanded on how you can achieve realistic TV audio distribution.

In addition to the ability to make use of dedicated channels for overhead sounds, content creators use virtual 3D planes to stipulate from where you intend sound to originate. Consequently, you can precisely elicit sound from the physical location of individual speakers in your living room.

Dolby Atmos introduces an additional height immersion element to surround sound that is missing from previous TV experiences. The system directs sound by using overhead speakers or speakers with the capacity to project the desired effects onto the living room ceiling and bounce it back down.

With the integration of complex vertical elements for the surround sound system model, Dolby Atmos expands the conventional layout of the TV surround sound system to include vertical audio sources.

For instance, a network of three front speakers, two back speakers, and a subwoofer changes from 5.1 to 5.1.2 following the addition of two ceiling-mounted speakers.

What Does A TV Need To Play Dolby Atmos Sounds?

While many TVs claim support for Dolby Atmos, they are only actually capable of playing sound through the TV speakers and won’t give you the same effects that a fully integrated system will. Before buying a TV, it would be prudent to research whether that model can truly support Dolby Atmos.

To get Dolby Atmos audio from your sound system, you need several components that are Dolby Atmos compatible to work in unison:

  1. The media you intend to play must be Dolby Atmos encoded. 
  2. Your AV receiver or soundbar must be Atmos compatible and connect to your TV using advanced enough HDMI cables. 
  3. The service you use to source your media should also be capable of decoding Dolby Atmos sounds.
  4. A TV with Dolby Atmos compatibility that passes audio signals through suitable HDMI cables.

To Enable Dolby Atmos, Connect Your TV With HDMI Cables

To pass sound on from your TV to an AV receiver or soundbar, you will need to connect the devices using a cable with sufficiently broad bandwidth.

Wires with lower bandwidth capacity are not able to carry the complicated audio signals of Dolby Atmos and will revert to previous surround sound codecs. 

HDMI version 1.4 or later cables carry sufficient data to transfer Dolby Atmos signals. Still, HDMI 2.1 can have much improved audio data carriage that will allow the integration of a surround sound system that incorporates more elements. Without the ability to play overhead sounds, the immersive experience of Dolby Atmos suffers badly.

How Do I Activate Dolby Atmos On My TV?

Firstly, confirm whether the media you are trying to use with Dolby Atmos is immersive surround sound content. Not all the TV content being broadcast or available through streaming are Dolby Atmos offerings. It is no use trying to enable Dolby Atmos for an old movie or show recorded with simple audio channels.

Your TV’s audio and sound settings might not be Dolby Atmos configured. Set your TV’s digital audio output to “auto” rather than PCM, as some TVs do by default. Make sure that Dolby Atmos compatibility is enabled and that your TV’s HDMI e-ARC mode, if it has one, is set to “auto.”

Verify that your cables aren’t damaged and losing the signal. Sometimes, the wires you use to connect all the devices in your surround sound system are incapable of carrying the required data.

Many cables cannot move the signal in both directions or only support the audio or visual aspects of the data. Connecting your TV with new HDMI cables should resolve a problem with the wiring.

Some streaming services, such as Netflix, require that the streaming device hosting the audio file must have Dolby Atmos compatibility without the assistance of AV receivers and soundbars.

Consequently, the TV will not only receive and play the media but also be the only source of sound for that audio and altogether sacrifice the Dolby Atmos effect.

Conclusion

Verifying that your TV has Dolby Atmos capabilities can be done by consulting the user’s manual, the manufacturer’s website, the TV’s audio settings, or by searching for your TV on the Dolby website’s compatibility list. But the TV isn’t the only necessary part of the system as they generally have too few speakers to make surround sound work independently.

The immersive quality of Dolby Atmos relies on how well each part of the system works together. Your TV may well be Dolby Atmos capable, but for the entire experience, it depends on AV receivers and speakers correctly set up around the viewer and overhead.

References

https://www.cnet.com/tech/home-entertainment/dolby-atmos-what-you-need-to-know-about-the-spatial-audio-format/

https://www.digitaltrends.com/home-theater/dolby-atmos-sound/#:~:text=If%20you%20want%20to%20transmit,with%20Dolby%20Atmos%2FDolby%20TrueHD.

https://www.lifewire.com/are-you-really-getting-dolby-atmos-sound-5201859

https://www.tomsguide.com/reference/dolby-atmos-what-it-is-and-how-to-get-it

https://www.whathifi.com/advice/dolby-atmos-what-it-how-can-you-get-it