Last updated: 16/10/2022

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Sound standards are constantly evolving and with Atmos, Dolby reached a completely new level of sound quality a few years ago. All major manufacturers have jumped on the bandwagon and developed Dolby Atmos speakers to bring the revolutionary standard home.

Years of development have also made Dolby Atmos speakers more affordable and not systems you can only dream of. In times of Ultra HD and more and more streaming services that support the standard, the timing could hardly be better to improve your own surround system or finally get one.

With our Dolby Atmos speaker test 2022, we want to introduce you to the technology in more detail. We have taken a close look at what makes good speakers and systems and listed the most important criteria to make your purchase decision as easy as possible.




Summary

  • For the best possible home theatre sound experience, there’s no way around Dolby Atmos. The additional ceiling channel lets you feel rain and other sounds from above like never before, creating the most immersive movie experience you can have in your own home.
  • The differences between the top speakers are all in the details. If you’re passionate about sound, you’ll find endless information on home theatre systems.
  • Before you buy, be aware of the price range of Dolby Atmos speakers and home theatre systems and their requirements. You won’t be able to enjoy the sound in the wrong environment.

The Best Dolby Atmos Speakers: Our Choices

Guide: Questions you should ask yourself before buying Dolby Atmos speakers

Before you buy Dolby Atmos speakers, you should ask yourself a few questions. In the following sections, we have summarised the most important facts about Dolby Atmos speakers.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is one of the most advanced and impressive sound standards you can currently bring into your own home. Experts call it the biggest revolution in home cinema since the first surround sound formats in the 80s.

In principle, Dolby Atmos is the logical evolution of old home cinema standards. Ceiling speakers add an overhead dimension to conventional surround systems, allowing you to immerse yourself in films even more than before.

How many speakers do I need for Dolby Atmos?

The amount of speakers you need for Atmos depends entirely on your setup. Depending on how many speakers you have available, you will need between eight and 34 speakers. However, the established setups are 5.1.2, 5.1.4 and 7.1.4, with the first number representing the horizontal channels, i.e. all the speakers set up around you. The “1” in the middle is the subwoofer for very low sound frequencies and the last number indicates the amount of ceiling speakers.

In terms of price, you have to realise that Atmos is very expensive. If you don’t already have a surround system, upgrading will be expensive.

Can I use normal speakers for my Dolby Atmos system?

If you already have a surround system, you can upgrade it to Dolby Atmos. It is important that your AV receiver is compatible with Dolby Atmos. You also have several options to create the overhead audio channel.

  1. Attachments: If you want to keep your old speaker system, there are attachments you can put on your front and surround speakers. These then beam sound to the ceiling, creating the overhead audio channel through ceiling reflections.
  2. Dedicated ceiling speakers: If you already have an old system that is compatible with a receiver that supports Dolby Atmos, you can of course simply buy dedicated ceiling speakers. You can either hang them on the wall or mount them on the ceiling.
  3. Reflection systems: There are also speakers that have an integrated ceiling-reflecting radiation pattern. These virtually fulfil the function of normal ambient speakers and the function of the attachments from point 1 at the same time.

At what prices are Dolby Atmos speakers sold?

The price range is quite wide and depends on what exactly you want to buy. Individual speakers start at around 100€, but for complete systems you can spend several thousand euros. There really are no limits to the price of a full home theatre system.

What are the requirements for a Dolby Atmos system?

For a really good Dolby Atmos system, you also have to plan well. If you spend several thousand euros on speakers without a concept, you will be disappointed. That’s why you have to ask yourself beforehand whether you want to place your Dolby Atmos system in the living room or take the next step and set up a separate cinema room.

Due to the high prices, it is also worth buying from manufacturers who offer restored B-ware.

Both options have great advantages and disadvantages. First of all, a Dolby Atmos system in the living room is much cheaper. You don’t need an extra room and can simply use your existing television system. The problems, however, arise directly with the placement of the speakers. Atmos speakers need a lot of free space to fully develop their sound, and this does not work in cupboards. The optimal solution is to place the speakers freely in the room for the ambient sound, which would severely restrict the freedom of movement in most flats and often doesn’t look so great either.

The biggest difficulty in a living room will most likely be the seating position. For the ambient sound, part of the speakers must normally be behind you, but this is likely to be problematic in most living rooms. A sofa should be at least one metre away from the wall to get the best possible sound.

Dolby Atmos Lautsprecher-1

It can be difficult to fit eight to more than a dozen speakers in a cosy living room.
(Image source: 123rf.com / Canlas)

The sound is also problematic in a typical living room, because Dolby Atmos systems get very loud. How well the neighbours like it will vary from case to case, but long movie nights with a potent sound system will be difficult.

Don’t be fooled by egg cartons as sound insulation and other tips; to use the full potential of a home cinema, simple house walls are not enough in most cases.

A separate cinema room can help out, especially if you have a basement that you can furnish accordingly. However, this brings with it the problem of price. If we assume a bare basement, it will be very expensive to equip it properly for good sound. After all, the emptier the room, the more reverberation, so at best you have to worry about seats, curtains and carpets that can absorb sound. Of course, this is easier in an already equipped living room.

Dolby Atmos Lautsprecher-2

A cinema room is expensive, but with the necessary effort it can completely replace the real cinema experience.
(Image source: 123rf.com / Chukhlyebova)

Besides, the rest of the technology is probably not in this extra room and furniture is not cheap either. On the other hand, you won’t have any problems with speaker placement in a specially furnished room; on the contrary, you can adjust the seating and speakers to each other perfectly.

Room Advantages Disadvantages
Living room Cheaper, most of the technology is already in place Sitting position problematic, sound cannot be shielded well
Own cinema room Once the room is in place, much easier to isolate, optimum sound, best possible experience Very expensive, sound can easily reverberate, technology missing

What alternatives are there to Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is not the only advanced audio standard for the home. In the following section, we introduce you to two alternatives.

Soundbars

If you want to upgrade your sound system without spending a lot of money or taking up a lot of space, a soundbar may be the solution.

These devices offer very good sound, especially in the bass range, and can at least give the appearance of a much more expensive system. Nevertheless, soundbars are no substitute for a full Dolby Atmos system.

Auro 3D

Auro 3D follows a similar concept to Dolby Atmos and all Auro 3D receivers are also Dolby Atmos compatible. To be able to use Auro 3D, you have to install a chargeable update on your Dolby Atmos system. However, the effect can be worthwhile, because the ceiling channel becomes even more immersive with Auro 3D.

Alternative Features
Soundbar Simpler audio solution, good sound with little space consumption and for less money
Auros 3D Similar principle to Dolby Atmos, but receiver upgrade subject to charge, ceiling channel more immersive in the view of some users

Which companies make speakers for Dolby Atmos systems?

Many companies make speakers for Dolby Atmos and most of them offer outstanding quality. We would like to introduce you to three of them in the next sections.

Teufel

One of the best hi-fi companies in the world is without a doubt Lautsprecher Teufel. The Berlin-based manufacturer is known for excellent quality and great sound.

In addition, Teufel has a lot to offer to those looking to save money, as they often offer refurbished B-ware for cheap, which can be very worthwhile.

Onkyo

If you’re desperate to buy from the market leader, Onkyo is the way to go. Even better, the company was one of the first to jump on Dolby Atmos technology and is still reaping the benefits. You’ll almost always find innovation and new features here first.

Bose

Bose stands above all for quality combined with very good design. The US company produces excellent devices, especially in the mid-range sector.

Buying criteria: You can compare and evaluate Dolby Atmos speakers based on these factors

Loudspeakers and associated systems have many different criteria, especially for experts. We have looked at what makes a good overall system and what you should pay particular attention to:

In the following sections, we explain what the criteria are and why:

Connections

Especially if you use your system in the living room, it should be compatible with as many devices and services as possible. That’s why you should make sure that your system can connect to as many devices as possible. In general, the more audio and HDMI inputs, the better.

Supported audio standards

Dolby Atmos is all well and good, but what else can the device do? You should also ask yourself this question before buying. On the one hand, backwards compatibility with 5.1/7.1 is important, on the other hand, standards like TIDAL, THX, Dolby True HD, DTS:X and DTS-HD are very useful.

Scope of delivery

With the speaker packages presented, the overall package is crucial. Setting up Dolby Atmos is hard enough, especially for beginners, and you won’t do yourself any favours if you have to buy a lot of additional equipment and cables.

It is very important that all the necessary boxes for 5.1.2 and the receiver are available. Everything else is just a bonus, but as with the other criteria: the more, the better.

Dolby Atmos Lautsprecher-3

The more speakers, the better the sound in theory. But the question is how much space you have for all those speakers.
(Image source: 123rf.com / Yemelyanov)

Facts worth knowing about Dolby Atmos speakers

How should I set up my Dolby Atmos speakers?

For this explanation, we will assume a 5.1.2 setup. Remember: The “5” stands for the surround speakers, the “1” for the subwoofer and the “2” for the ceiling channel.

First, let’s talk about the surround speakers. First of all, you have a central speaker, which you should place under your screen. To the right and left of your seat, place two more front speakers. Ideally, these should form a line with the central speaker. The last two are placed to your right and left in a 5.1.2 system. You can also simply place the subwoofer in front of you near the central speaker.

That leaves the ceiling channel. This depends on what kind of speakers you want to use for the ceiling channel. Attachments are placed on top of the front speakers so that they can reflect the sound from the ceiling, while real ceiling speakers are placed under the ceiling at about the same height as the side speakers.

How should I mount my Dolby Atmos speakers?

When using industrial Velcro fasteners, be sure to check the maximum load capacity.

You have several options for mounting the speakers. The front speakers pose the least problem. At best, they should stand on the floor. The side speakers, on the other hand, feel most comfortable on suitable stands, but in the best case, these are already quite high by default.

The following applies to the speakers for the ceiling duct: It is generally always safest to screw the speakers tightly so that nothing falls and breaks if the worst comes to the worst, but there are also other options.

For example, you can use industrial Velcro or hang the speakers. However, the more contact there is with a surface, the better the sound quality.

What can I do if my Dolby Atmos speakers are too quiet?

It happens from time to time, especially to beginners, that the height channel and the side speakers of their surround system are only very quiet. In most cases, the mistake is quite simple. Even today, many television productions are not produced with surround sound and Dolby Atmos is usually only found on UHD Blu Rays. So the first thing you should do is check whether what you want to play back supports Atmos at all.

Of course, a Dolby Atmos system is also backwards compatible. However, you must consider that the ceiling channel is not used with normal surround sound.

If this is the case, the fault may also lie in the settings of your receiver or the TV. In any case, make sure that you have really switched on Dolby Atmos for both.

Picture source: Ovchinnikov/ 123rf.com

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