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How to get Dolby Atmos on Netflix


How to get Dolby Atmos on Netflix

If you’ve been spending any time looking into home theater products — whether TVs, soundbars, or full surround sound systems — chances are you’re familiar with the phrase “Dolby Atmos.” Introduced in 2012, Dolby Atmos is one of the most immersive surround sound formats available today.

Consumer technology has a penchant for putting hardware before software, and the rabbit-hole-world of home theater devices is no exception to this rule. (You can purchase an 8K TV, but what can you watch on it?) That said, various A/V sectors have done well to keep up with the Atmos standard. You can currently experience Dolby Atmos with select Blu-rays and through an array of streaming platforms, including Amazon Prime Video, Disney+, HBO Max, and yes, Netflix.

This brings us to the focus of this piece — how to experience Dolby Atmos-surround sound through Netflix. The short version is that you’ll need to pony up for the most expensive Netflix streaming plan if you want Atmos.

Before we begin, though, let’s break down Atmos a bit more to best understand the building blocks you’ll need to get Atmos sound.

What is Dolby Atmos?

We’ve covered this groundbreaking audio codec in detail before, but the fundamentals are certainly worth reviewing.

Before Dolby Atmos, traditional surround sound layouts were most commonly designated as 5.1 and 7.1 systems. In a 5.1 arrangement, the “home theater” is made up of three front speakers — referred to as the left, right, and center channels. Two rear speakers (left and right channels) complete the directional speaker family, with a subwoofer rounding out the sound-staging for lower frequencies (the “point-one” in 5.1).

The traditional 5.1 surround-sound layout with three front speakers, two rears, and a subwoofer.

In a 7.1 arrangement, we keep the same speaker and subwoofer layout and add another two channels to the array. These two additional speakers can be used as either side-facing “surround” speakers or as additional “height” channels placed above the two front speakers.

In a 7.1 surround-sound system, an additional two speakers are added as…

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