Using Atom for movie

Hello all,
New Atom owner here! Very impressed when playing music. I am also using my Atom for 2.1 movie and would like to know what everyone thinks about the sound. Compare to my Marantz, a lot of the background is more apparent, a bird chirp here and there, sand blowing in the wind etc. However, during some action scene, I find sounds like changing magazine, shattering glasses or vehicle crashing really stand out, not sure how to describe it, but they sound like isolated and don’t blend in with the movie and have no “body” to the sound.
Running Apple TV (Stereo output ) to TV and HDMI (PCM) to Atom. Anything I can do to improve?
Thank you!

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Sounds like audio-video delay. You can look to see if you have settings that define an audio to video delay. You can also try optical cable between TV and Atom.

Not that. I don’t have any lip-sync issue.

I know what you are talking about. The occasional movie can sound a bit harsh when compared to a processor. The Atom is definitely not the best for movie performance. Just one of the downsides to good stereo sound.

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Hi, and welcome to this forum. I used to have a high end surround setup in my living (Aragon prepro + power amp, Tannoy TD-8 speakers (4x), Tannoy TDC center, Infinity subwoofer) and I almost enjoy my Atom as much for movie playback. I was watching a movie the other night, I think it was Oblivion, and certain sounds were almost coming from the back, such a great 3D sound presentation.

My experiences so far with the Atom (and now Atom HE) when it comes to movie playback using our Apple TV 4K:

  1. The sound quality when playing back via the TV very much depends on
    (a) how your playback software converts multi-channel sound to stereo
    (b) how well PCM sound troughput is implemented in your TV
    (c) which source movie file format you use
  2. Using Airplay to connect your Apple TV directly to the Atom works very well for me

For playback of my DVDs and Blu Rays I use Infuse which is installed on the Apple TV. Our movies are installed on a Synology NAS that does not do any decoding, just throughput. I noticed that downmixing of 5.1 tracks to stereo via Infuse does sometimes makes the sound a bit thin. This might be your issue as well. So I have ripped all my Blu Rays to my NAS in M4V format and I downmixed the sound from 5.1/7.1 to 2.0. That way Infuse does not have to downmix the track during playback.

The PCM implementation on my Philips TV is quite good, although the sound is very soft. So I have adjusted the TosLink input on the Atom for volume +10 using the Naim app. That works well.

However, I found out that using Airplay to play sound from the Apple TV to the Atom works even more convenient as you can use the Apple TV remote to control the volume of the Atom. And the Apple TV and Atom automatically sync the sound, so there are never any sound synchronisation issues. Plus that the sound quality is very good,

This works well in my situation and I am very happy with the convenience and sound quality of the playback. As we also use the Apple TV to watch television and for Netflix and YouTube, which means it is on for a lot of hours per day (often in use by our kids).

I hope this helps. BR, Richard


Yes, I know people use one system for music and one for HT. But why there is a difference between system for music and HT? Is it because movie playback focus on certain frequency than music?

I also use infuse and I use Apple TV to do the downmix, let me try using airplay and see if there is any difference.

Anyway, just as an example, I was watching SAS: rise of the black swan on netflix and the gunfight starting at ~40mins sounds so terrible. I A/B test with my Marantz and notice a lot of the sound effects are at a much lower volume and blend in better.

Add: will using different speaker cable helps?

Tried that scene just now, where they are in the tunnel and there is a gunfight followed by an explosion. I cannot say it sounds terrible at all. My best guess is that something else is wrong in your setup. Can you provide more details about your setup?

No there’s not much you can do about it. I wouldn’t say mine sounds terrible, I do enjoy movie playback but I do know what you’re talking about. I have an audiolab av processor too and when I play a Dolby digital movie signal processed through that it sounds totally different. Much smoother, more dynamic and easier to listen to. I just choose to sacrifice the best movie performance for simplicity and stereo performance.

The thin sound with no body might be helped with cables. What speaker cable do you have?

I switched to NACA5 recently and I’d say it fleshed out the mids a bit and also smoothed the highs.

Apple TV G4 Netflix HDMI stereo → LG C8 HDMI PCM → Atom → Focal 816
Not everything sound thin and harsh, just some times during action scene.

I love playing music with Atom, was listening until 3am and almost couldnt stop. LOL

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I was 80/20 movie/music, but once I have atom, I would say it is now 60/40 :stuck_out_tongue:

I also love simple design and Atom is the direction to go for sure.

I am using vey cheap copper cables (maybe $2/ft) now. If better cables make a big difference I certainly will look into that.

I have tried Naim NACA5 in the past, which worked fine, but now using AudioQuest Castle Rock which I love: more dynamics and smoothness at the same time. Very nice cable that I like a lot. Also the AudioQuest Type 4 worked well for me in the past.

I’d definitely try some proper cables that are recommended to use with Naim. They might make a big difference and then again they might not. It’s a bit of a gamble using cheap cables with expensive hifi gear.

Just check the price, Castle Rock is way way out of my league. The Type 4 or NACA 5 are more within my reach.

Yes, the budget copper wire works for my Marantz and I thought could save a few dollars…guess that is a no-no if I want higher quality.

Well you might be ok but you just don’t know until you have tried the proper cables. It could be the source of your problem. Maybe see if you can try a dealer demo.

Hi @afgverhart , how’s the Atom HE running in? Are you finding it a large improvement over the original? What have you done with your original Atom? Second system?

Hi @Mark84 , the Atom HE has run in. Actually, I am listening to it right now. I find it a large improvement over the original, considering that I was using the original Atom as a preamp only. The HE provides more insight into the music and it paints more beautiful pictures (if that makes sense). At this moment I listen to Sade, Morning Bird from the album Soldier of Love. It sounds much more engaging compared to the original Atom, but you could argue it also sounds more analytical. Probably because you hear more texture and details. Also it sounds more 3D as it fills the room more with sound compared to the original Atom. London Grammar is playing now with their song ‘Hey now’ and the music plays in a holographic and seamless way. I love it. I am happy that I traded up.

The old Atom has been sold. I thought it was overkill for my office as I am in Teams calls most of the time anyway. :upside_down_face:


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Dont think I can get a demo but I only need 5ft per side (no minimum requirement for Atom I trust), so the stake at gamble is smaller.

Used NACA5 can be found in the secondary market at a huge discount.