Tips & Tricks

Understanding Dolby Atmos and Sonos Arc

  • 18 June 2020
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One of the most exciting features of the new Sonos Arc is its ability to play Dolby Atmos sound. As with all relatively new technology, it’s understandable that you might feel a little confused when it comes to making sure you have a compatible setup for the feature. 

Head’s up—we’ll be talking about things like “codecs,” and “audio formats” below, but don’t panic. We’re here to make sure you understand why those things are important in setting up Arc to play Dolby Atmos. Rest assured that no matter what you’re listening to with Arc, it’s going to sound great. But to get the most out of Arc, it’s worth ensuring that your system is set up to deliver Dolby Atmos. And, as always, we’re here to help. If you have questions, feel free to ask.

Dolby Atmos (as in “atmosphere”) is a format that allows sound to be heard three-dimensionally —including from above! (Arc achieves this by bouncing sound off of the ceiling). To facilitate this experience, Atmos information is contained within an audio wrapper (known as a codec), which has metadata instructing the audio drivers how to direct the sound within your space. 

Arc-compatible codecs that contain Dolby Atmos include Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and Dolby MAT. Most streaming services that have Atmos content use Dolby Digital Plus, while Blu-rays usually use Dolby TrueHD or Dolby MAT. 

To get Dolby Atmos sound from Sonos Arc, you need to address the following:

  1. Connections. Sonos Arc needs to be connected to your TV with an HDMI cord (one is provided with Arc) via an ARC or eARC port (eARC is required for Dolby TrueHD and Dolby MAT).

  2. Compatibility. Every device that ‘touches’ the audio (e.g. Blu-ray player, Apple TV, Fire TV) needs to be able to pass Atmos on to the next in line—from the source of the content to Sonos Arc. For Blu-ray, the individual discs need to have Atmos content and the player needs to be capable of sending Atmos as well.

  3. Apps. Your app (e.g. Netflix, Disney+) needs to be capable of playing Atmos content via your particular TV. 

  4. Content. Your content needs to have Atmos audio in an Arc-supported codec: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, or Dolby MAT. 

Some things to note:

  • Not every episode of every show may have Atmos, even if the streaming service supports Atmos.

  • A device (such as your TV or a streaming box like the Apple TV) may support Atmos, but not for all apps running on it. 

  • Some devices may not pass Dolby Atmos by default without making some adjustments to audio settings.

We’re happy to help answer questions, but in some cases you may need to contact the manufacturer of certain devices to check compatibility.

When set up properly, your Now Playing screen in the Sonos app will display the Dolby Atmos logo.

 

 

If you have all of the above set up, but are still not getting Dolby Atmos sound, let us know what you’re experiencing in a new thread or join an existing one and we’ll try to help you address the problem.


41 replies

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There is a good video here that explains what Ryan has said above (skip the first minute if you are short of time):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Kvs2Y4lAGUk

 

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I’ve done trueplay tuning a few times but I cannot hear any sound bouncing from above from any atmos content (I see the flag for atmos). Any tips for setup or reference material for it?

If you’re seeing the flag for Atmos than everything is set up correctly. What sort of content you hear from the various directions will depend a lot on what your watching. You should feel surrounded by the audio, but you might not notice something specific from the ceiling. Perhaps try Trueplay off to see if that sounds different.

ah right, then I must be mistaken again. I thought you had to ‘expand‘ the system and add two rears and sub to get the full 5.1 surround sound as mentioned in the Arc’s online manual. I have attached and highlighted the section I saw.

 

“Full” is a relative term.  Front speakers using audio tricks to simulate surrounds is always going to be inferior to physical surrounds positioned behind the viewer.  I myself would not call simulated surrounds as “Full” 5.1.  OMMV.

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 Any tips for setup or reference material for it?

https://www.dolby.com/about/support/guide/dolby-atmos-trailers/

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Arcana is officially entering production.  You can still pre-order now: https://hdfury.com/product/4k-arcana-18gbps/

FYI: If your TV does not have an eARC Arcana solves the problem.

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To get Dolby Atmos sound from Sonos Arc, you need to address the following:

  • Connections. Sonos Arc needs to be connected to your TV with an HDMI cord (one is provided with Arc) via an ARC or eARC port (eARC is required for Dolby TrueHD and Dolby MAT).

 

Is this true? So even though my TV doesn’t support eARC I can get Atmos using Sonos Arc connected via HDMI ARC?

Yes, if the source provides it in Dolby Digital Plus, which is carried by HDMI ARC.

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Yes, if the source provides it in Dolby Digital Plus, which is carried by HDMI ARC.

Thanks!

 

What's the easiest way to text it? I have Netflix and Disney+ on my TV (Philips 7303 Android TV ~ 2018) and a PS4 but nothing I play displays the Atmos logo in the Now Playing section of the Sonos app.

System - About does show Dolby Digital Plus though.

Check the audio settings on anything that’s feeding the TV set, to be sure they’re sending a Dolby Digital Plus signal for the TV to pass through. Check the TV’s manual to be sure it can pass such a signal. I’ve got a Vizio that will play Dolby Digital Plus from smart apps, but not pass through a Dolby Digital Plus coming in on an HDMI input. 

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Cheers. Seems like the built-in Netflix app on my TV doesn't support Atmos. 😭

Is the recommended surround placement any different for Atmos placement than Dolby 5.1? I am debating whether to add a pair of Ones to my Arc & Sub but they would have to go immediately behind my couch as shown in the Sonos One Stands photo below. Will the Atmos “bubble” be apparent to all seating positions on the couch with the surrounds placed so close to the couch? I’m concerned with placing the Ones so close to the listening positions but I have no other option for their placement.

 

 

The placement is the same.  Trueplay should account for the surrounds being so close. 

Userlevel 1

I’ve done trueplay tuning a few times but I cannot hear any sound bouncing from above from any atmos content (I see the flag for atmos). Any tips for setup or reference material for it?

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Question:  If there is a streaming device that has 2 HDMI outputs, one w/ eARC out and 1 regular HDMI output, can  the eARC connect to Sonos Arc and the other HDMI connect to the TV to get lossless Atmos TrueHD?  Will something like this ever work to take advantage of Sonos Arc to output full Dolby Atmos for TVs that do not have eARC?

Yes, that’s pretty much what the whole thread about HDFury’s device here is all about. 

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Ryan S,

 

In the webpage https://www.sonos.com/support/en-us/sonos-user-guide/index.html#t=sonos-user-guide%2Farc%2Farc.htm , it states that:

 

  • Arc’s advanced processing creates five phased-array channels that deliver sound to your ears from all directions.

What are those five channels? Where do the height channels fit in there?


Thanks  

 

Ryan S,

 

In the webpage https://www.sonos.com/support/en-us/sonos-user-guide/index.html#t=sonos-user-guide%2Farc%2Farc.htm , it states that:

 

  • Arc’s advanced processing creates five phased-array channels that deliver sound to your ears from all directions.

What are those five channels? Where do the height channels fit in there?


Thanks  

 

ekwok,
The five channels mentioned will be the left, right, center, LFE (bass) and the upward facing ‘height‘  (reflective) channel for Dolby Atmos.

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Ryan S,

 

In the webpage https://www.sonos.com/support/en-us/sonos-user-guide/index.html#t=sonos-user-guide%2Farc%2Farc.htm , it states that:

 

  • Arc’s advanced processing creates five phased-array channels that deliver sound to your ears from all directions.

What are those five channels? Where do the height channels fit in there?


Thanks  

 

ekwok,
The five channels mentioned will be the left, right, center, LFE (bass) and the upward facing ‘height‘  (reflective) channel for Dolby Atmos.

Where do the rear surround come in then?
 

I always thought that we have RF, center, LF, LR, RR, plus the 2 height channels. 7 in all. 

ekwok,

 

It’s a 5.1.2 system when you add the rear surrounds and sub …the two height channels are the ‘pseudo’ downward firing channels. So I was mistaken, but this link may assist...

 

https://origin-www.dolby.com/in/en/guide/speaker-setup-guides/5.1.2-overhead-speaker-setup-guide.html

 

So the 5 Arc channels referred to are: FL, FR, Center and 2 x height channels.

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ekwok,

 

It’s a 5.1.2 system when you add the rear surrounds and sub …the two height channels are the ‘pseudo’ downward firing channels. So I was mistaken, but this link may assist...

 

https://origin-www.dolby.com/in/en/guide/speaker-setup-guides/5.1.2-overhead-speaker-setup-guide.html

 

So the 5 Arc channels referred to are: FL, FR, Center and 2 x height channels.

Ken_Griffiths,

 

The Arc by itself without the sub and the surrounds is 5.0.2 already, right?

And if the 5 channels are FL, FR Center and 2 height channels, then what about RL and RR? Where do they come in? They are built into the Arc already. The two side firing woofers at the extreme ends of the soundbar.

ekwok,

 

It’s a 5.1.2 system when you add the rear surrounds and sub …the two height channels are the ‘pseudo’ downward firing channels. So I was mistaken, but this link may assist...

 

https://origin-www.dolby.com/in/en/guide/speaker-setup-guides/5.1.2-overhead-speaker-setup-guide.html

 

So the 5 Arc channels referred to are: FL, FR, Center and 2 x height channels.

Ken_Griffiths,

 

The Arc by itself without the sub and the surrounds is 5.0.2 already, right?

And if the 5 channels are FL, FR Center and 2 height channels, then what about RL and RR? Where do they come in? They are built into the Arc already. The two side firing woofers at the extreme ends of the soundbar.

Standalone, I assume it’s a 3.0.2 system (FL, FR, Cent + 2 height channels) ...although there maybe some sort of algorithm to merge sound from the rear channels to the front when the surrounds are absent?🤔


The side facing speakers I’m sure are geared to simply also play the FL/FR channels and help broaden the sound stage.

 

To get the full atmos sound surround though, you ideally need the rear surrounds and sub.

Userlevel 1

So after a busy weekend I finally got the test files downloaded to a USB stick and played through the C9 USB slot - the Sonos app reporting Dolby Atmos (DD+). After toggling trueplay on and off a lot of times and listening to both leaf and amaze I could hear a slightly more pronounced height to the birds chirping with trueplay off. However I was impressed I was hearing the height as the chirping birds sounded like they where above! Maybe iTunes Atmos is not the best to really hear this level of detail.

Userlevel 3
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ekwok,

 

It’s a 5.1.2 system when you add the rear surrounds and sub …the two height channels are the ‘pseudo’ downward firing channels. So I was mistaken, but this link may assist...

 

https://origin-www.dolby.com/in/en/guide/speaker-setup-guides/5.1.2-overhead-speaker-setup-guide.html

 

So the 5 Arc channels referred to are: FL, FR, Center and 2 x height channels.

Ken_Griffiths,

 

The Arc by itself without the sub and the surrounds is 5.0.2 already, right?

And if the 5 channels are FL, FR Center and 2 height channels, then what about RL and RR? Where do they come in? They are built into the Arc already. The two side firing woofers at the extreme ends of the soundbar.

Standalone, I assume it’s a 3.0.2 system (FL, FR, Cent + 2 height channels) ...although there maybe some sort of algorithm to merge sound from the rear channels to the front when the surrounds are absent?🤔


The side facing speakers I’m sure are geared to simply also play the FL/FR channels and help broaden the sound stage.

 

To get the full atmos sound surround though, you ideally need the rear surrounds and sub.

Not so. Stand alone the Arc is 5.0.2. The side firing woofers tries to give reflected LR and RR. 

 

when the physical surrounds are bonded, then the side firing woofers will be used to help with the left and right channels. 
 

 

Standalone, I assume it’s a 3.0.2 system (FL, FR, Cent + 2 height channels) ...although there maybe some sort of algorithm to merge sound from the rear channels to the front when the surrounds are absent?🤔


The side facing speakers I’m sure are geared to simply also play the FL/FR channels and help broaden the sound stage.

 

To get the full atmos sound surround though, you ideally need the rear surrounds and sub.

Not so. Stand alone the Arc is 5.0.2. The side firing woofers tries to give reflected LR and RR. 

 

when the physical surrounds are bonded, then the side firing woofers will be used to help with the left and right channels. 

ah right, then I must be mistaken again. I thought you had to ‘expand‘ the system and add two rears and sub to get the full 5.1 surround sound as mentioned in the Arc’s online manual. I have attached and highlighted the section I saw. (Edit: I did previously mention though about the two rear channels possibly being merged to the Arc when it’s setup without surrounds).

Here is how I confirmed it working on my Vizio P Quantum X 75-G1 with the latest firmware as of this date:

Vudu Vizio app (Important wont work on any other app or external devices) : Avenger’s Endgame UHD (can be purchased on any service and played back on any other service with MyMovies integration).

Set television audio output to : BItstream out (not auto, auto did not work).

Confirmed Video and audio output with the Info button on the TV remote (says Audio Out Dolby Atmos)

Confirmed audio input on Sonos S2 app says Dolby Atmos on the TV playback.

 

Solution: HDFury Box for audio split from Atv or other devices. This wont do.

 

4K Arcana 18Gbps | HDFury.com | Connect and Fix everything in HDMI 

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