There is one part of the home theater setup that you have to pay due attention - sound. Combine an eye-pleasing picture with a thundering sound system, and you will be much closer to moving the movie theater home.
Dolby Atmos is one of the best surround sound technologies on the market. We highlight some of the soundbars for you to select the best Dolby Atmos soundbar for your needs.
All models in our rating have a separate subwoofer with wireless connectivity and Bluetooth support. Let's bring this technology to your home.
Dolby Atmos is a new generation of technology developed by Dolby Laboratories, designed to produce surround sound.
This technology represents a qualitatively new stage in the development of ambient sound, both in terms of recording and listening. Dolby Atmos does not provide for channel-by-channel recording of the soundtrack, but the placement of sound images in space in accordance with the intention of the sound engineer. When playing such a track, the Dolby Atmos processor in real-time, given how many speakers are used in the system, recreate the recorded surround sound picture.
The format takes into account all the "troubles" of ordinary rooms, a small number of speakers, and other things. However, most manufacturers have so far announced support for the new format only for older models with 9.2 or 11.2 configurations. In fact, Dolby Atmos works quite well with 8-channel systems (7.1). So when buying a new soundbar with Dolby atmos, you can get by with the current system, and when you want to get even more "three-dimensionality" - buy and install the missing speakers (subwoofer or ceiling systems).
For the convenient navigation, we separated the models into two categories 7.1.x and 5.1.x and did not add models with "pseudo-support" for Dolby Atmos. Unfortunately for today, it is quite difficult to choose a model with real support due to the "efficient" work of marketing specialists.
The 7.1.x channel devices mostly satisfy Dolby Atmos hardware requirements, and they are recommended for purchase, but if you want to get a budget Dolby Atmos you can use 5.1.x.
The HW-N950 is an entire upgrade of Samsung's previous HW-K950, one of the first Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbars released in 2016.
The Samsung HW-N950 keeps the same basic design style that the company has been using in its soundbars over the past few years: a minimalist but attractive rectangular shape and mostly metal construction.
The reviewed device is the best Dolby Atmos soundbar presented on the market. The build quality is top-notch, with metal grilles at the top, front, and side, as well as a brushed metal finish at the edges and back.
The soundbar is quite large and heavy, but this is understandable given that 13 drivers and their respective amplifiers are built-in. These drivers create a total of seven speakers with three front channels (left, center, and right). The front panel of the soundbar on the right has a simple LED display.
The supplied remote control is an excellent controller: it is well designed and comfortable to hold, with all the necessary buttons reasonably laid out.
The connections are placed in a recessed section under the soundbar, and here you will find two HDMI inputs and one HDMI output with Audio Return Channel (ARC). The N950 also provides an optical digital input, as well as built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
The wireless rear speakers reflect the design and build quality of the main soundbar, with metal grilles at the front and top and a black metal finish.
The main function of the Samsung HW-N950 is obviously the ability to support both DTS:X and Dolby Atmos using the original 7.1.4 speaker configuration.
Samsung, as well, doesn't bother when it comes to the N950, which boasts at least 12 speakers using a total of 17 drivers.
All of them are individually powered by 512 watts of internal gain, although Samsung has not indicated how this gain is actually distributed for each driver.
The N950 was developed between Samsung Audio Labs and Harman Kardon, the former providing soundbar support for Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and Dolby Atmos, as well as DTS Digital Sound, DTS-HD Master Audio and DTS:X.
The best atmos soundbar includes a number of sound modes that use digital signal processing (DSP) to enhance sound.
The N950 includes both built-in wireless features and Bluetooth capabilities, allowing users to easily access their music libraries and streaming services.
The device supports numerous lossy and lossless audio formats, including AAC, WAV, OGG, ALAC, AIFF, and FLAC, with support for high resolution up to 32 bits. Finally, the N950 supports Alexa.
The uniqueness of this soundbar lies in the fact that the specification contains Dolby Atmos and DTS:X. The soundbar effectively controls all emitters, which provides an excellent 7.1.4-channel sound. In the proposed review of Samsung HW-Q90R, we will try to consider the remaining features of this soundbar.
The user receives 510W of sound power qualitatively distributed over a complex configuration.
Despite the confusing model number, the HW-Q90R is very similar to last year's HW-N950. The new soundbar has a redesigned subwoofer and adds Active Sound and Game Pro modes, but there is little else between them.
The left and right rear speakers have the same design and metal grilles as the main unit. Each speaker has drivers for forward and upward movement for the upper rear left and right channels, as well as built-in gain. The latter means that although they are wireless, you will need to connect them.
The upgraded subwoofer uses an 8-inch speaker with side inclusion, supported by a rear port for bass. The finish is the same as the rest of the system, with revised dimensions designed to improve low-frequency sound and overall control over last year.
On the front panel, there are six woofers and three tweeters, large speakers are located on both sides, plus two more of the previously mentioned speakers in the upper part. Wireless rear speakers in terms of sound have some advantages.
If you are installing a home theater with an AV receiver, the last step is to configure the entire sound system. At a professional level, this is done with the help of special measuring heads and appropriate software on a laptop.
The test source reproduces various signals. Based on these data, depending on your premises and volume, further adjustments are made to the volume levels of individual emitters. A properly tuned sound system differs significantly from the standard circuit.
The plus is that Samsung provides the necessary settings so that you can manually optimize the sound system. This can be done using the smooth volume control. Here you can control various channels separately. For example, you can make the center channel louder (dialogs will be more receptive) and set the front and rear channels in the correct ratio.
Important: if you have a high ceiling, then the speakers facing up should have a volume level above average. If the wireless speakers are quite far from the listening position, then it is advisable to also increase their volume.
Using the settings provided by Samsung, you can quite accurately cope with this task. Even by ear, you can set the surround sound relatively accurately. Thus, getting a very good result is easy.
Since the considered soundbar is premium, the soundbar HW-Q90R should have a sufficient number of interfaces. You can connect to a TV via HDMI with ARC, although it is also possible to connect via an optical cable. In addition, there are a couple of additional HDMI inputs to which you can connect a decoder, game console, or UHD Blu-ray player.
Let's see another soundbar with Dolby Atmos and DTS X. Since the Sony HT-ST5000 soundbar is positioned as a 7.1.2-channel system, in the kit, we get not only the main body but also a wireless subwoofer. This may not be the largest soundbar, but definitely one of the largest. It will harmonize well with 55 ″ TVs and above. The same can be said about the size of the subwoofer.
The HT-ST5000 is not a cheap model; that's why Sony has taken care to create a design that matches the high price. Sony may have added some sharp lines and corners to give the panel a more dynamic look. The design of the subwoofer looks the same way, but here we get a little more pathos.
The front of the HT-ST5000 soundbar is covered by a single, perforated fabric cover that hides all the front speakers. And on both edges of the upper part are fixed perforated grilles that hide the upper Dolby Atmos speakers.
In the center of the upper part, there are also several control buttons that are well located closer to the rear. This does not distract attention from a rather austere frontal view. The buttons are used to turn on the power, select the input, pair the Bluetooth, Music service, and adjust the volume.
Between the center and right speakers on the front panel, Sony placed a display to give some visual indication of the functional status of the soundbar. On the left side of the display is the Bluetooth on the indicator. On the right side is an IR remote control sensor.
On the right side is a single USB port. It is very convenient for connecting external drives. All other connections are located on the back of the device. There are also special holes for wall mounting. The Sony ST5000 Soundbar has many sound modes and features. This is ClearAudio , which automatically adjusts the settings according to the content being listened to. This is 3D surround, which is trying to create a three-dimensional sound stage.
The soundbar supports lossless formats such as FLAC, ALAC, and DSD. The HT-ST5000 is equipped with Digital Sound Enhancement Engine HX technology, which analyzes low bitrate sound and replaces lost samples to restore high definition audio quality.
There is Wi-Fi for streaming. There is Bluetooth for transferring music from a smartphone.
As we mentioned earlier, the USB port is located on the side. At the back are all connections grouped into special niches: two HDMI inputs and an Ethernet port for wired Internet connection exit perpendicular to the rear panel. Several ports look sideways, including analog input, a digital optical input, another HDMI input, and an HDMI ARC output.
All HDMI ports have HDCP 2.2, i.e., support 4K / 60p, HDR, and wide color gamut. The HT-ST5000 is also fully wireless, with built-in Wi-Fi (2.4 GHz / 5 GHz) 11a / b / g / n, as well as Bluetooth.
The older model of the Atmos Vizio soundbar line with serial number SB46514-F6 is the best atmos soundbar in the budget line of Dolby Atmos soundbars. It is a well-designed system with amazingly powerful sound for little money. There are a built-in Chromecast and Bluetooth for streaming playback combined with Google Assistant, which offers an excellent option for those who are looking for an all-in-one TV solution.
Surround effects in 5.1.4 Atmos Vizio provide speakers and satellites built into the top of the soundbar. For low frequencies, a wireless ported subwoofer with a 10-inch driver is responsible. Unlike some other all-in-one systems, additional speakers will have to be connected using wires to the subwoofer, which may limit the placement options for the subwoofer.
To connect, the soundbar has a 4K and HDR10-compatible HDMI-ARC connector, optical and coaxial digital inputs, analog stereo input mini-jack, and USB-A for playing WAV and MP3 files directly from a USB flash drive. Connection to the network is via Wi-Fi or via the Ethernet connector.
The initial setup can be done using the display complete with remote control and an LED indicator on the front panel of the soundbar. A more convenient setup option is through the SmartCast application, which allows you to select the equalizer mode for movies, music, and Direct (stereo), as well as adjust the center channel, surround sound system and subwoofer level. Effect management is not yet available, but the company promises to add this feature in the future through an update. The Vizio application can also be used to switch the input signal and adjust the volume, and also provides volume equalization and night mode options.
In addition to connecting wires, the Vizio satellite speaker stands also include a wall mount for the soundbar and speakers. The length of the cables allows you to adjust the surround sound according to the size of the room.
The use of a customized system in various operating modes demonstrated the effects of volume immersion in the dynamic scenes of the film. The sound of the guitar songs and vocals were full, warm quality, rich tone, which was detailed, but not sharp. Dialogues in films were also clear and positioned.
As a result, Vizio's 5.1.4 soundbar is not the most advanced solution for Atmos technology - the immersion feeling provided by its compact volume / vertical satellites does not quite match what you can hear from component systems with ceiling speakers to create effects. But this is an excellent solution for simple immersion in Atmos in its price range.
If you want to get high-quality, comfortable Dolby Atmos sound, but do not want to buy an AV receiver and a bunch of speakers, then the Vizio SB36512-F6 will be a great solution.
In this price range, there are several models of soundbars, but almost none of them have separate rear speakers. The Vizio model has them, and. In addition, there is also support for surround sound. At the same time, SB36512-F6 not only has excellent sound at its cost but is also equipped with all possible connection options. Perhaps, only the absence of a DTS:X decoder and mediocre sound when playing music can be reproached with this soundbar.
Vizio has not changed the design of its soundbars for several years, so its models for $130 look almost the same as for $500. SB36512-F6 has a recognizable appearance due to the black protective fabric and silver speaker ends.
On the top panel of the soundbar is a pair of speakers for high-rise channels that reproduce the effects of Dolby Atmos tracks. Their sound comes to the audience after reflection from the ceiling, as in other similar systems. There is a minimal set of controls on the soundbar, and it can be hung on the wall.
The small subwoofer has a black and silver finish and is equipped with a 6-inch woofer loaded on a bass reflex. Thanks to the presence of a subwoofer, the system reproduces low frequencies from a value of 40 Hz.
SB36512-F6 has five inputs: HDMI with ARC support, coaxial, optical, USB (for playing WAV files), as well as an analog input on the 3.5 mm jack. Wireless connections are represented by Wi-Fi (with built-in Chromecast) and Bluetooth.
The SB36512-F6 remote control is high-quality; it even has an LCD display that displays the operating modes and initial setup steps.
Given the modest cost, the SB36512-F6 is a bargain, and its sound when playing Dolby Atmos is closer to the set of AV receivers and speakers than you might expect. Yes, to achieve the best sound, you will have to lay the cables from the soundbar to the rear speakers, but if you decide on this, you will be very pleased with the result. Vizio SB36512-F6 surpasses many competitors and deserves the closest attention.