WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY ATMOS SPEAKERS?
WHERE SHOULD I PUT MY ATMOS SPEAKERS?
Today I’m going to tell you exactly where to place your Dolby ATMOS speakers.
These are the “height” speakers that play Dolby ATMOS or DTS:X audio tracks.
Now, there are two very different types of ATMOS speakers out there… (1) genuine ATMOS speakers that are installed into your ceiling, and (2) “reflective” ATMOS speakers that try to bounce sound off your ceiling.
This article is going to focus solely on the first type: genuine in-ceiling ATMOS speakers. They create a much clearer sense of audio coming from above — whereas the reflective ones are a bit hit and miss.
Let’s dig into WHERE to put your ATMOS speakers.
- What Is The Best Placement For Dolby Atmos Speakers?
- What Are The Best Ceiling Speakers For ATMOS?
- The Pros and Cons of Dolby ATMOS
What Is The Best Placement For Dolby ATMOS Speakers?
Ultimately, your Dolby ATMOS speakers will go above your head, wherever your seating location is. So the first thing you need to do is be clear on where your seating location is.
There are two speakers — so one to each side (creating a stereo image above you). Try to keep them wide enough that they sit OUTSIDE of everyone watching a movie.
And if you’re using directional in-ceiling speakers, you’ll place them slightly forward of your position. (500 to 1000 mm is our guideline.)
It doesn’t matter if you use 5.1 or 7.1 with ATMOS. They should still be in the same location…
Except that you could use in-ceiling speakers for the non-ATMOS “ground” channels. In which case you have to be mindful of the ceiling space you’ve got to work with. (More on this in the next section.)
What if my home theatre is in-ceiling only?
If you want to use in-ceiling speakers only for your home theatre, 5.1.2 is what I recommend.
You might be curious about an in-ceiling only 7.1.2 system. (7.1 with ATMOS.) I don’t recommend using more than 7 speakers in your ceiling however — they start to overwhelm each other and muddy the sound.
How to place four ATMOS speakers for 5.1.4
Dolby and DTS have actually encoded height tracks into more than two locations. So you can create more panning and 3D effects above your head.
Some people choose to have four Dolby ATMOS speakers to do this.
The principle is the same — except now instead of being above and slightly forward, your 3rd and 4th speakers are above and slightly BACK.
This setup is very impressive, but only really worth the effort if (1) you’re not using in-ceiling speakers for the normal surround speakers, and (2) your room is big enough to prevent sound locations from mixing.
What about Dolby ATMOS 7.1.4 speaker placement?
This is possible as well. Again, you need a big enough room and you can’t really use in-ceiling speakers for the normal channels. This setup is exactly like the diagram above, except you’ll add two more surround speakers directly to either side of your seat.
(The diagram below is actually 7.2.4, which means it has two subs. You can remove one sub for 7.1.4.)
With a system like this, your films will blow you away… and your music will feel like you are literally at a live concert!
Can any in-ceiling speaker work for ATMOS?
Yes. Technically any in-ceiling speaker will work for ATMOS.
But the cheaper in-ceiling speakers available will never give clear sound — they tend to sound flat and “mechanical.”
You end up with a better experience if you go with higher quality, especially at higher volumes. And this applies to ATMOS as well as any speaker in your system.
The other thing to know is, directional in-ceiling speakers give a better stereo image than downward-only ones. With ATMOS, this is irrelevant. Directional and downward firing both work equally well. But when it comes time to play room filling music (multichannel stereo) the directional speakers will make a big difference.
What Are The Best Ceiling Speakers For ATMOS?
There are quite a few options for ATMOS speakers. If we eliminate the “reflective” ATMOS speakers — the ones that must bounce sound off your ceiling — we’re left with genuine ceiling speakers.
These are definitely better because the reflective ATMOS speakers need to be set on top of something, and they depend on the ceiling height and material to try and simulate height sounds. You end up with a muddied sound — reflective ATMOS are nothing like real ceiling ATMOS.
If you can use genuine in-ceiling speakers, your home theatre will be that much better off.
So… what are the best ceiling speakers for Dolby ATMOS?
All ceiling speakers will give you sound that clearly comes from above.
But you still need to consider (1) quality level and (2) features.
ATMOS ceiling speaker quality level
Cheaper models — like the ones intended for commercial use in cafes, hotel lobbies, and gyms — will NOT give you good audio quality. They tend to sound “tinny” and fake. At medium to high volumes, you’ll notice this.
High-end models designed for audiophile listening can sound awesome, but they tend to be FAR more expensive. In the case of ATMOS, that extra level of detail is hardly noticeable and often not worth the cost.
Try to stick with something in the middle range of quality level.
Now lets look at features…
The primary features that change across in-ceiling speaker models are directionality and number of drivers.
Ceiling speaker directionality for ATMOS
Directionality means the speaker either fires straight downward or at a slight angle.
For all applications other than ATMOS, directional speakers are better. This means they give a better stereo image for music. But for ATMOS it makes no difference. As long as you place them in the right spot (described above) you’ll get good height effects.
Since you’ll probably be playing music from time to time, directional ATMOS speakers are a good idea.
Number of ceiling speaker drivers for ATMOS
As with all speakers, more than one driver offers clearer sound.
In the case of mids and highs — which is all ATMOS will play — you only need two to get full sound.
You might find in-ceiling speakers that only have one main driver. These are almost always commercial speakers like I described above. And if you find in-ceiling speakers with more than two drivers, they’ll be massive overkill (and expensive).
So two-way in-ceiling speakers are the best choice for ATMOS.
We offer a series of high-quality, two-way directional in-ceiling speakers that don’t blow your budget out of the water. These are great for ATMOS as well as “zone 2” music (like in your alfresco).
So for a 5.1.4 speaker package, you might consider four ELITE-404 in-ceiling speakers for ATMOS. A single pair of ELITE-303 in-walls will cover all three front speakers (they do this using Perfect Centre Speaker technology) and a pair of ELITE-203 in-walls make excellent surrounds.
Top it all off with an EHT-707 subwoofer and your home theatre will turn your home into the place to be!!