HomeHow ToHow To Get Dolby Atmos Sound to Work

How To Get Dolby Atmos Sound to Work

Dolby Atmos logo

You may have noticed the little Dolby Atmos logo on the back of some Blu-ray and most 4k Ultra HD Blu-ray slipcovers, as well as on Netflix, Apple TV+, Max, Prime, and other streaming platforms. The logo indicates the movie, TV show, or video game incorporates Dolby Atmos audio, an advanced format that with the right setup can create an immersive sound experience.

The audio format is actually created by metadata within a Dolby audio stream like Dolby TrueHD. The data contains information about where to place audio objects, including in height locations in addition to traditional front, side, and rear, to create a spatial experience with the right setup.

But if you purchased a movie with Dolby Atmos on Blu-ray or in digital format, or have a streaming service that offers Atmos, how do you get it to work and how do you know you’re listening to it? Here’s a quick overview of what you need to set up and what to look for to actually hear Dolby Atmos audio.

Supporting Devices

Your device, whether an audio receiver, speaker, sound bar, streaming media player or TV must support Dolby Atmos. Look for the logo on the device packaging or in the manual to be sure. If your device currently doesn’t support Atmos a firmware update may be available. Look for updates from the manufacturer.


Whether you are using an audio/video receiver, streaming media player or game console be sure to set the audio output to bitstream and make sure any secondary audio function is disabled. HDMI must be HDMI 1.4 compliant or later to function correctly.

Dolby Atmos Content

As mentioned above your setup needs to be Atmos-ready. And, the content you play must also be encoded with Atmos. Look for the Dolby Atmos logo on the back of a Blu-ray Disc or video game case, or within the details of a digital title. We have lists for Amazon Prime Video, Apple TV, Max, Netflix, and Paramount+ that indicate whether or not a title features Dolby Atmos.

Turn On Dolby Atmos in Settings

Before playing a disc or game look in the audio settings of the disc interface and the disc player. It rarely happens anymore, but a disc may not have Atmos set as the default. A streaming media player may also not have Atmos enabled. Without Atmos turned on, audio may default to Dolby TrueHD.

Is Atmos Activated?

Samsung soundbars with Dolby Atmos will let you know when Atmos is activated by a blue light on the front of the bar. On a Sony system you can press the Display button on the Sony remote and DAtmos or Dolby Atmos will show on the screen. You can also press the Display or Display Mode on the front of the device, although if playing a 4k Blu-ray this may not work. In addition, Sony has something called Vertical Sound Engine but Dolby Atmos will override that sound feature. Check the manual for your specific audio system for details.

Speaker Setup

There are a few ways to set up your speakers to experience Dolby Atmos including overhead sound.

1. Install ceiling speakers.
2. Use new Dolby Atmos-enabled speakers.
3. Use a Dolby Atmos-enabled sound bar.

Ceiling speakers are obviously intended to be installed near the ceiling, but other speaker systems have been designed to point sound upward where it can bounce off ceilings to create an overhead sound effect. Dolby says you can get the experience with just two speakers but suggests four to get the full effect. Dolby provides different layouts on their website for locations, but you can also experiment with placement in whatever locations you have available.

Sony HT-A7000 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar Bundle
Sony HT-A7000 7.1.2ch Dolby Atmos Soundbar with Subwoofer Buy on Amazon

Sound Bars

Some of the easiest setups for Dolby Atmos include using a sound bar with a subwoofer and optional speakers. We highly recommend the subwoofer (often offered as an option) because it adds another speaker but more importantly another range of frequencies to the sound experience. Companies that make Atmos-supporting sound bars include LG, Philips, Pioneer, Onkyo, Samsung, Sony, Vizio, and Yamaha.

Soundbars like the Sony HT-A7000, and Samsung HW-Q600C are fairly easy to set up as there are only two speakers: the bar itself and a subwoofer for bass frequencies. However, soundbars may be expanded or purchased with additional rear speakers such as the Sony SA-RS3S or Samsung SWA-9500S wireless speaker kits.

Multi-Speaker Systems

Of course, home theater audio setups can get a lot more complicated and vary between 5.1.2 or 7.1.2 (two Atmos speaker setups) and 5.1.4 or 7.1.4 (four Atmos speaker setups), and even a 9.1.2 system with two speakers added to a 7.1.2 setup. In those configurations the main speakers (center, front, rear) are reprsented by the front number. The second number represents a subwoofer (typically 1, but can be 2). The third number represents the Atmos speakers (typically 2 or 4).

If setting up a true home theater system with multiple speakers it’s probably a good idea to start with a receiver that supports object-based audio. Good examples of receivers that support Atmos and DTS-X are the Onkyo TX-SR494, Marantz SR8015, and Denon AVR-S760H, or the higher-end Denon AVR-X4800H all of which also support Dolby Vision, HDR10, and HLG HDR formats.

Then, if you don’t already have speakers decide on how many you will be setting up and what brand fits your style.

You can purchase multi-speaker surround system packages like the Klipsch Reference Series 5.2 Home Theater Pack, which will require an audio receiver that supports Dolby Atmos. Or, build your system piece-by-piece by adding speakers along the road (see home theater speakers on Amazon or premium audio products at Best Buy). Some recommended speaker brands include Bowers & Wilkins, Definitive Technology, KEF, and SVS, to name a few.

Hopefully, we’ve given you some information to get you started building or upgrading your home theater sound system!

Also Read: How To to Watch HDR Movies & TV Shows 

Article updated. Original publish date Nov. 23, 2018.

HD Report
HD Reporthttps://hd-report.com
HD Report provides news, commentary, and information about home entertainment media and technology. HD Report has been a Google News partner since 2006, and can also be found on Twitter, Apple News, and Facebook.


  1. hey angry dude. it sounds like your mad about dolby attempting to push atmos into home theater. what is your point? that they shoud call it atmos-light or not push into consumer land at all? will you say the same when IMAX sells digital movies?

  2. This is a funny article.
    How to “Get Dolby Atmos to Work”? Yes, you can get a blue light on your soundbar to illuminate, or some indication on your display.

    Does that mean “It’s Working”? Of course not. Do you really think that a system that needed 40-70 overhead speakers in the movie theaters does the same thing in your home with an extra speaker tacked onto the ceiling? Or even worse, some “reflecting speakers” stuck on the end of a soundbar?

    No, Dolby Atmos isn’t a real audio system but a scheme by Dolby to get their logo stuck on a piece of audio equipment. There is NO concern by Dolby for performance meeting ANY kind of standard. Because it CAN’T.

    Sadly the audio industry continues to be inhabited by charlatans and grifters.


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