Dolby Atmos: The equivalent of 4K in sound?

In our age Full HD is already a thing of the past: Screens with a resolution of 4K or even 8K are no longer a dream of the future. High-resolution images are beautiful, but for a decent home cinema experience, good sound, such as Dolby Atmos, should not be absent. Premium picture needs premium sound. We explain which sound technologies correspond to the high-quality picture of today.

A pleasure for your eyes and ears

A memorable cinema experience is not only due to a good picture. Many cinema-goers are not actively aware of this, they only take it up passively: The sound is at least as important – if not, even more so.

New screen technologies are currently turning up and are extremely popular and sound technology is also moving up, but is less in the limelight. We have an overview of the news from both disciplines, explain the most important differences and reveal whether Dolby Atmos is the 4K sound equivalent, so to speak.

Latest sound tech

State of the art screens for home cinema use

Watching movies with the whole family is great fun – guaranteed to be even more so when the sound and picture are excellent. Β© Subbotina Anna

Before we dive into with sound technology, we would first like to give you an introduction to image technology. QLED, OLED, HDR10+ – everything you need is explained here!

OLED or QLED – Which is better?

Promising abbreviations, but what’s behind them? We explain what OLED and QLED mean and the advantages and disadvantages of both technologies. We have already explained the differences between these two technologies in another article. In a nutshell, the following technology is behind the abbreviations:



OLED stands for organic light emitting diode. This means that no additional light source is required, but that the diodes themselves emit light. Each pixel consists of four diodes that alternate between white, green, red and blue.

If black is to be produced, the diode is simply off – which, in addition to the unsurpassed color fastness, is very energy-saving. In addition, OLED televisions are stunningly flat, since only a few screen layers are required for operation.

However, the disadvantages are that the playback time of OLEDs is limited: the color fastness will eventually deteriorate and the minimal risk of a burn-in exists with particularly bright static content.

However, this risk is extremely low for hobby users – much lower than with plasma televisions from the past. In addition, OLED televisions are relatively expensive. They are mostly produced by Sony and LG.

QLED is actually only an elaborate marketing measure by Samsung. Basically QLED is based on the well known LCD technology.

Here, liquid crystals are polarized by irradiation of a light source, so that colors are created. The difference to classic LCD televisions is an additional filter layer.

This Quantum Dot layer ensures that the backlight is split into red, blue and green. This results in higher brightness and color quantities. In addition, there is no burn-in.

Although Samsung has adopted the brand name QLED, such televisions are also produced by other manufacturers. LG calls it Nano Cell, Sony uses Triluminos, or Hisense calls it ULED. Basically, however, everything is the same.

This video showcases the differences between QLED and OLED very well.

HDR for professionals: HDR10+ and Dolby Vision

The topic of image resolutions in television is sung about a lot and is extremely important as the screen grows larger and larger. But the latest trend is in the areas of contrast and color depth. Keywords here are HDR and Dolby Vision.

HDR means High Dynamic Range and means the amplification of the contrast between the darkest and brightest pixel. This provides a greater depth effect on the screen. Only since the advent of Ultra HD TVs has HDR really played a role in the moving picture. Before, the High Dynamic Range was limited to photography.

Caution: HDR does not always mean the standard HDR10. That’s already one step further. The 10 stands for bits, i.e. the color depth of the image. But that’s still not all.


This dynamic HDR technology was announced as the new royalty-free standard by Samsung and Amazon Video in 2017. The color depth here can be more than 10 bit, so show even more colors and be even more contrasting.

The ratio between implementation effort and quality of the result is best with HDR10+. It is also most likely to be used for cinema films, as no fee is due to Dolby.

Dolby Vision

The US-American developer Dolby holds the crown of the HDR technology. Up to 12 bit color information can be transmitted here. In addition, a luminance of up to 10,000 Nits is theoretically possible in mastering.

Together with the object-based sound format Dolby Atmos, the Californians offer a complete package called Dolby Cinema. The future of cinema is practically on our doorstep.

Find out more about the difference of HDR+ and Dolby Vision in this video.

State of the art sound for home cinema use

Many of the state of the art televisions have such a good picture that the sound is left behind by comparison. Experts recommend sharing a sound bar or sound base for the complete experience.

Virtual Surround Sound & Real Surround Sound

With Soundbars and Soundbases a so-called virtual surround sound is possible. In reality, the sound only comes from one place, although it sounds as if it comes from all sides. This is achieved with reflective sound waves.

Soundbars and -bases beyond the 1000€-mark make this great. Despite promises made by the manufacturers, you should not expect a convincing surround feeling in the low-priced range.

Real surround sound, on the other hand, is achieved with a surround system. Five or seven satellite speakers throughout the room, plus a subwoofer – that’s how the sound really comes from every corner of the room.

An AV receiver can be a lifesaver to achieve a “real” surround sound. Β© Ruslan Kudrin

If you have a sound system at home, you can also connect it to the UHD TV using an AV receiver. In combination with the right speakers, the cinema feeling at home can be recreated. One way is Dolby Atmos.

Dolby Atmos

With Atmos, Dolby’s current audio format, a special experience is to be created that allows the audience to immerse themselves in the film. It was originally created for the cinema, but can also be used at home.

Conventional home cinema systems, for example, in a 5.1 system have four satellite speakers, a centre speaker and a subwoofer. The Atmos system extends the number of loudspeakers by ceiling loudspeakers, which either radiate from the ceiling to a desired place or reflect. The latter is called Atmos Enabled.

If two Atmos loudspeakers were also used, this would be referred to as a 7.1.2 system. As far as the compatibility of the medium with Atmos is concerned, Dolby was clever: Atmos is not channel-based, but object-based. It works with the loudspeakers that are present.

The sound is therefore no longer dependent on channels, but the sound of a desired object is placed and played back in a three-dimensional space with the aid of precise coordination.

Join Techquickie if you want to find out the similarities and differences between Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.


A 3D audio competitor of Dolby Atmos is DTS:X from the US American company DTS. There are no significant differences, both formats provide object-based surround sound.

The difference lies in the formatting and coding. Dolby Atmos is stored and encoded in Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby True HD. DTS:X is stored in DTS-HD High Resolution Audio.

Auro 3D

With its immersive audio format, the Belgian company Auro pursues a similar result with a slightly different implementation. Much more loudspeakers are to be used here.

Some talk of 13.1 systems, which are all installed at different heights. Surround loudspeakers at ear level to ceiling loudspeakers exactly above the audience. This format is also object-based.

Home cinema: A never ending journey

Achieving the perfect picture in home cinema is comparatively easy with choosing the right TV. Integrating the right sound is the real art. Spending money on speakers is easy, but the space and orientation of the speakers is just as important.

There is much to learn on the way to the perfect home cinema. If you want to follow this path, you will always find useful information on our platform.

So let’s move on directly. Now that you’ve learned everything you need to know about Dolby Atmos, we’d like to recommend our service article on 4K resolution to further expand your home theater knowledge.

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