There are quite a few movies and episodic series on Netflix that feature Dolby Atmos audio. But getting the immersive audio format to work isn’t always that easy. There are several things that need to be set up before you’ll hear Atmos kick in. But when it does, you’ll notice a huge difference between the 5.1 audio most Netflix titles use. When combined with HDR (via Dolby Vision on Netflix) the two Dolby formats provide best in current consumer home theater technology.
What Is Dolby Atmos?
Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format that brings immersive sound effects to movies that would otherwise play in 7.1, 5.1, or 2.1 channel systems. Mainly, Atmos brings a height element to audio environments in which sound is bounced off the ceiling (or, directly from above with ceiling-mounted speakers) so audio can be heard from overhead and behind.
Obviously, Dolby Atmos in home theaters is a watered-down version of what you would experience in Atmos cinemas, but there is definitely a noticeable difference at home.
The audio format can be found on Blu-ray Discs, 4k Ultra HD Blu-rays, and digital movies (both 4k Ultra HD and HD). Netflix has a fairly large selection of programs with Atmos (see our list of 4k/HDR/Atmos titles), as well as Apple, Amazon, and Vudu. Here are some steps that should help you get Dolby Atmos playing on your audio system.
A Dolby Atmos Speaker System
To hear Dolby Atmos you need to have an audio system that supports it. This means your speaker system, soundbar, and/or AV receiver can all deliver Atmos. The product box and manual for your device should have the Dolby Atmos logo on it. Note: Most TVs do not have speaker systems that will play Dolby Atmos audio.
Audio systems can vary according to how many speakers are set up. This “How To” isn’t a guide to setting up speakers but Atmos systems are usually configured in one of three ways.
1. A soundbar with speakers that angle upward to bounce off ceilings
2. A multi-speaker system with back speakers that bounce sound off the ceiling
3. A multi-speaker system which has speakers installed in the ceiling
Connect Your HDMI Cables
Since most TVs do not support Atmos through their built-in speakers you will need to connect the Smart TV, streaming media player like Apple TV, or Blu-ray player to the HDMI input of a Dolby Atmos-supporting AV receiver or soundbar. Those devices must be able to support Atmos passthrough. Some audio systems have more than one HDMI input which is ideal for having more than one playback device. If you have more devices than the provided HDMI inputs consider getting an HDMI splitter to get all your devices connected to the sound device.
It should be noted there are some Dolby Atmos sound systems that don’t support HDR (Dolby Vision / HDR10 / HDR10+). And, we should note that because Apple TV 4k uses a high bandwidth form of Dolby Atmos it will not work using ARC connections. That means you can’t have both Dolby Atmos and HDR video at the same time, unfortunately.
Netflix Premium Account
You’ll need to subscribe to the Netflix Premium plan (currently $15.99 per month) that offers 4k Ultra HD resolution and Dolby Atmos audio. The Premium plan also allows streaming on 4 screens at a time and downloading to 4 tablets or phones. You should also set the Playback options to High or Auto to allow Dolby Atmos.
Find a Dolby Atmos Movie, Series or Special
Search for “Dolby Atmos” or refer to our list of 4k Dolby Atmos titles on Netflix. If a movie or show supports Dolby Atmos a small logo (pictured above) will appear under the title. It should be to the right of the icon for Ultra HD resolution. Note that if a title does support Dolby Atmos it may not also show the icon for Dolby Vision. Refer to our list for clarification.
Check Your Sound Bar or Receiver
Your soundbar or AV receiver should indicate when you are playing Dolby Atmos. For example, Samsung displays a blue light on the speaker when Atmos is enabled. Sony shows the label DAtmos or Dolby Atmos on the TV or device when pressing the Display button. If your audio device or speaker does not tell you it’s playing Atmos it probably isn’t.
We hope you are successful in getting Dolby Atmos to work on Netflix. If you still have trouble you can always call the manufacturer of the audio system you are using for help. Look in the device manual or search online for troubleshooting questions and answers.