Epic Genius
Posts: 220
Registered: ‎03-06-2017
0 Kudos

To Atmos or not to Atmos

I love music, I love the quality of music, I love the feel of music, I am a musician. A Keybordist actually. I spent a lifetime searching for the perfect digital piano sound, the perfect feel of a digital piano sound, so I can tell when something sounds great or not. 


However I am not an audiophile; i.e. a hi-fi enthusiast. I cannot tell you the specs of any receiver even the one that I just bought. I cannot tell you what each of the settings would mean but I can tell you if it sounds terrible or not.


I don't play my music in stereo as the composer intended us to hear the music, but rather i let Dolby separate the sound as much as possible so that I get a good separation of different sounds coming from different angles and I loving listening to the sounds coming from all directions. I enjoy the emotions, the experience of the music rather than picking at the quality of the music. Mind you  if the music is noisy and raspy, I will complain.


The reason that I said all that is so you don't think I have a tin ear and everything I say, sounds great regardless.


So with all that out of the way, my latest acquisition is the Sony STRDN1080 which gives me Dolby Atmos.


I had spent days fine tuning my STRDN1060 and I had to do it again with my new STRDN1080. The funny thing is the default setting for all Sony receivers is a very strange flat tonal quality, almost as if someone that is a audiophile said this is the way music should sound. 


Much like the way they demostrate 4k tv at the store. What you see at the store are these ultra sharp tv showing you the pores of your favorite actors, clarity like you had been transported to some alternate universe where every life has been magnified until edges of the images can cut your eyes out. This was the reason that I didn't buy into the 4k tv agenda. I hated the clarity.


It wasn't until I brought a 4k tv home and I was sold after all my movies were up-converted to 4k. It retains the warmth of 1080p but gives your movies a greater range of colors and perhaps better clarity even though it has been up-converted. 


This is the same with all receivers; you have to adjust it to your home, blend it with your walls and furniture until the sound finally feels right. It can be really frustrating as you have no idea what a good sound would sound like unless you are an audiophile that knows what the technical aspects of all the options are but I can tell you with certainty that this wasn't my forte despite being a good tech person.


So I had the pleasure of listening to Atmos for the first time through Netfix new movie "Okja" that just got released yesterday. It was amazing but unlike my previous experience with Dolby surround sound where my jaw drops with amazment, it was more of a much natural feeling of sound that I wasn't aware of listening to surround sound until I stopped to listen, 


The sound was all around you sounding pretty much like life,complete with an orchestra :-P it was natural.


You cannot point to a speaker and say that particular sound is coming from that spekaer. Just like a bus that passes you on the street it isn't a single point of sound that passes you but rather an object that rumbles from far away until it gets close then it continues to rumble away and exits to your right.


Like they say, if the special effects team has done a good job, you won't notice. It is the same with Atos. It is the way that sound should sound. 


The problem with dolby on my new system is that it just says Dolby. On my older receiver I had several choices of Dolby, but now it seems that Dolby is just Dolby and that is that.  No idea if this is good or bad, but I am listening to my music in Dolby and with two extra speakers mounted up high on the wall, all I hear is this single sound stage of music.


The kick of the drum is coming from the center despite my subwoofer is way over to the right corner, guitars and other music filler are to my left and right. My music sounds like a band is playing where my TV is sitting. 


I am happy.


If you have the time and money which isn't that much; $500 will get you the Sony STRDN1080, add a couple of high mounted wall speakers (mine costed $75 from craigs). The time is spent adjusting all 8 speakers (5.1sub + 2 wall speakers) to blend into each other. Although if you trusted the automatic calibration it should only take a couple of minutes.


Thanks for reading....

Good luck in your own adventure into Atmos....