Dolby atmos

Hello all, new to here and only using the ‘basic’ Naim stuff. Currently listening to Angelica Garcia’s new album via Tidal on a Uniti Atom + Focal 926’s.

A question for you if I may.

It is incredible (whether you like her music or not and my Spanish is zero) but I’m absolutely surrounded by sound.

Does Dolby Atmos and a good stereo system make 5.1, 7.1, etc redundant?

I’ve not tried it yet but if I were to play a Dolby Atmos movie through the Atom/Focals would it be as good as what I’m listening to now? It’s all over the place and most excellent!

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Well worth a watch:

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Each has their place, dependent on source material. With the same budget, a stereo system will likely outshine a multi channel system, simply because more components are needed for the latter, so the budget is spread more thinly.
A good multi channel system, carefully specced, with placement and room correction, will likely exceed. However budget would need to be very significantly more than a stereo system.
In a sense, it is down to personal preference and circumstance; ymmv.

I would say no.

Well-recorded 2.0 music played on a good 2.0 system can often give the impression of ’surrounding’ the listener with sound.

A good soundbar can give a very good account of a multichannel source, including the effect of ‘steering’ sounds around the room, though using multiple speakers around the room is (IME) better.

There have been attempts to use a 2.0 source and system to do the equivalent (QSound, popular with Pink Floyd members) but they’re not really a proper replacement.

As I understand it, playing an Atmos source on a 2.0 system gives you nothing more than a ‘folded-down’ equivalent of the original.


Objectives are different. Exact opposites in fact.

  • The goal of stereo is to put the performer in your room.
  • The goal of surround and ATMOS is remove the room and put you where the action is.

And as has been mentioned, if you extrapolate costs of a high end stereo system to ATMOS, it gets to be insane. Notwithstanding the fact there are few if any ATMOS processors with a preamp on par with a Naim 332 (for example).

Why can’t you live happily with both? I have a main Naim system and next to it ATMOS 7.2.4. By many home theatre standards, my ATMOS setup is extremely good. But for music it doesn’t even come close to the stereo system. But the reverse is also true.

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I’ve no doubt you’re right Mark, I was just blown away with how well the 2.0 with Dolby Atmos spread the sound around the room, but on further reflection it was only going to work effectively in the one sweet spot in the room whereas a proper surround system allows for many more seating positions.

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Not to mention, 2.0 has to use phase shift effects to trick the brain into thinking sound is thrown from phantom directions. With 5.1 and 7.1, the sound is mostly in phase. With the ceiling speakers, even more sound is direct in phase.

Another thing you’ll notice with how modern films are mixed is that the music track mostly is played via the surround speakers as a sort of stylistic overlay to the front effect main speakers. That effect is greatly diminished in 2.0.

If you’re ever in any doubt, ask a dealer who takes AV seriously for a demonstration. That’ll soon show how effective 7 matched speakers can be even if they are lesser quality than those you use for stereo.

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