With the evolution of immersive technology, surround sound installation has become one of the most crucial elements for maximizing your home theater experience. Though it’s terrific for movies, you can also utilize this format to hear all of your beloved audio come to life.
Additionally, you can now surround yourself with a cosmos of sound that has been upgraded to completely immerse you in the moment, in addition to watching movies in 3D.
Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos are two of the most popular formats for this immersive surround sound experience.
Here, I’ll discuss what immersive sound entails, review the two most popular immersive sound solutions today, and weigh the pros and cons of each for your home theater system.
What Is Immersive Surround Sound?
Most of you are probably acquainted with the concept of conventional surround sound. It uses either 5.1 (five speakers, one sub) or 7.1 speaker combinations to surround the listener with audio.
As a purely channel-based system, surround sound requires that audio content be recorded for playback through specified speakers in a predetermined configuration.
Using presence or height channels (speakers set high on a ceiling or walls to produce a dome of audio), immersive sound elevates the conventional multi-channel surround experience to a new level.
The resulting “3D” audio impression is breathtaking and brings the listener closer to hearing synthetic sound that replicates actual auditory experiences. Although “object-based audio,” a novel form of audio encoding, is proving to be quite successful, classic channel-based audio can still be used to produce immersive sound.
Hollywood film producers can construct an audio mix that directs sounds to particular room sections using object-based sound.
AV Receivers (AVRs) with the necessary hardware can decode a movie’s object-based encoding and make the most use of the speakers at their disposal to reproduce the director’s intended sound location.
The two most popular surround sound formats are Auro 3D and Dolby Atmos.
What Is Dolby Atmos?
The reigning monarch of immersive sound is Dolby Atmos. Atmos speaker systems have been installed in about a thousand commercial theaters, and almost all major AVR manufacturers have some variation of the technology built into their products.
Additionally, media is standard, with nearly 40 Blu-ray disc movie titles.
The object-based Atmos codec works with speaker setups in the home that range from 5.1.2 (five surrounding channels, one sub, and two ceiling presence channels) to 7.1.4 or 9.1.2.
Currently, no top-end AVRs can support setups bigger than eleven channels.
Instead of being constrained to a specific number of channels, Dolby Atmos allows the sound to move freely in a three-dimensional space. It increases the overhead. I often got the impression that scenes were happening above and around me due to the volume of the sound.
It envelops you, making the movie-watching experience even more lifelike and engaging. Think of movies where a thunderstorm or planes flying overhead are present. This technique offers 360-degree sound by “placing” these sounds in more realistic locales.
There are a few different ways to achieve this overhead audio in your home cinema, including ceiling speakers, speakers with Dolby Atmos support, and sound bars.
These Atmos-capable speakers are made to send sound upward, where it can bounce off the ceiling and then be reflected. It has a significant advantage compared to conventional surround sound systems, which can only emit sound horizontally.
What Is Auro 3D?
Dolby Atmos and Auro-3D are different in that Auro-3D use channel-based audio mixing.
Using layering of sound generated by wall-bound and ear-level height channels in a space’s front, rear, and sides, speaker setups with (up to) thirteen speakers achieve immersion.
Home systems can use one center-mounted ceiling channel in rooms with higher ceilings. It naturally makes it challenging to combine and match the best-deployed Atmos and Auro 3D speaker systems.
There may be ways to arrange speakers in particular “happy medium” configurations to benefit from both codecs, but we need real-world testing to determine whether this is worthwhile.
Beyond immersive, the codecs’ utilization of layered sound to fill a listening area distinctly differs from Atmos’ object-oriented effect. It’s difficult to argue with Auro’s marketing team when they claim that their technology induces an “immersion centered on sound hemisphere” It does provide the impression that you are “there” and are hearing the sounds as though you are naturally vast real-world setting.
Pros and Cons of Dolby Atmos
The following are some of the main pros and cons of Dolby Atmos based on my experience with this immersive surround sound format.
- I discovered that you could boost your audio depth and achieve an immersive sound by using two, or much better, four in-ceiling speakers. Natural events like the plane or ran falling from the sky is felt like it’s happening around you. In comparison to a typical surround system, I also heard sounds placed more precisely. The addition of Atmos through in-ceiling speakers is undoubtedly a step in the direction of realism.
- Receivers are expensive, particularly when you have nine channels or more. Fortunately, some moderately priced 7.2 receivers come with an Atmos setup (two speakers mounted on the ceiling). All you may have to do if you already have one is install an update. It is necessary to have nine-receiver channels or an extra stereo amp if you desire to have four in-ceiling speakers.
- Atmos is effective in space. One in your home is not overly intrusive, given that you will be mounting speakers in the ceiling. Convincing some individuals to install five speakers in a living room can be challenging. Now that they are hidden, you can add more if you like.
- Not all rooms work well with Atmos. You will need a flat-roofed room with a flat roof at an elevation of less than ten feet to get the intended effects. Unfortunately, you might be completely unlucky if your ceilings are vaulted. If you can’t install it, you must choose a less preferable option.
- I don’t like this approach so much. But that doesn’t mean it can’t succeed. Simply put, I believe the outcomes are less satisfying and inconsistent than those of systems mounted to a ceiling. Reflective speakers frequently fail to achieve the correct dispersion. So while having a single seat may seem nice to listen to, it’s unfortunate for others who aren’t seated in it. I didn’t see the same degree of definition that I did with the ceiling-mounted ones, either. If you ask me, I’ll tell you that blasting sound straight at you is unquestionably preferable to having it bounce off something else.
- There are currently very few movies with an Atmos recording. It will undoubtedly grow with time, but how can we be sure that a better innovation will not emerge in the interim?
Pros and Cons of Auro 3D
The following are the biggest pros and cons of Auro 3D.
- Exhilarating acoustic experiences are available. You will find it difficult to accept that a recording of a street corner in New York wasn’t taken while you were there. You felt like hitting the deck as a plane flew overhead. It was almost frightful how convincing it seemed. I thought it to be a significant step toward the very end of realism.
- Auro can be used in a broader range of rooms. You don’t have to worry about cutting holes or vaulted ceilings because all you’re doing is putting bookshelf speakers on the wall right over your left side and proper channels. The only place where something could go wrong has a relatively low ceiling. The distance from high to low speakers might not be sufficient. The needed amount of space is yet unknown.
- We could see that Auro has a considerably larger spot where the sound seems sweet. I will not consider a small sweet spot when Atmos is used (with in-ceiling speakers) a significant issue, although I have seen this concern brought up on various occasions.
- You’ll want at least nine channels to experience Auro. You can purchase a receiver with 9.2” dimensions or upgrade to a receiver with a 7.2” structure that supports Auro by adding a stereo amplifier. The price will immediately increase as a result of that. The four speakers then start. When using Atmos, you can use the latter and the multi-speaker option to keep expenses down while getting better sound.
- If your home cinema is the room where your family gets together, it could be pretty difficult to convince someone to add four bookshelf loudspeakers to your walls. Most people find installing a system with 5.1” dimensions in the family room difficult, never mind a system with 9.1” dimensions. The footprint is substantially more significant, but what you will hear is worth it.
- There is material available, but there isn’t much of it. However, I’ve heard that Auro has already secured the support of several film studios, so more are almost certainly on the way.
Auro 3D vs. Dolby Atmos: Which Immersive Surround Sound Is Better?
Immersive surround sound is a significant advancement in audio, and we’re just now realizing its full potential.
So which one should you experience: Auro 3D or Dolby Atmos? Right now, Auro-3D will be my recommendation if the sound is your main priority.
However, finding a retailer who can play both in usual settings is the best way to decide which one appeals to your ear.
If you’re lucky you can get home theatre receivers that can work with both.
My Denon AVR-x4500h receiver can do Dolby Atmos and Auro 3D – the best of both worlds.
A passion for writing and ongoing research projects gives Catherine an incredibly broad knowledge of all things. She has authored an incredible number of articles and can be found in the wilderness when not attached to technology or listening to podcasts.