Ever since Stereophonic sound became popular in the 50’s the race has been on to create the ultimate home listening experience. Even as far back as the 1930’s,experiments with surround sound were conducted. In 1940, Walt Disney incorporated his innovativeFantasound surround sound technology in order to totally immerse the audience in both the visual and audio sensations of his animation achievement, Fantasia.
Although “Fantasound”, and other early experiments in surround sound technology could not really be duplicated in the home environment, that didn’t limit the quest by recording engineers for both music and film to develop processes that would eventually result in the surround sound formats that are enjoyed in home theaters all around the world today.
Monophonic sound is a single-channel, unidirectional type of sound reproduction. All elements of the sound recording are directed using one amplifier and speaker combination. No matter where you stand in a room you hear all the elements of the sound equally (except for room acoustic variations). To the ear, all the elements of the sound, voice, instruments, effects, etc… appear to originate from the same point in space. It is as if everything is “funneled” to a single point. If you connect two speakers to a Monophonic amplifier, the sound will appear to originate at a point equidistant between the two speakers, creating a “phantom” channel.
Stereophonic Sound is a more open type of sound reproduction.
Although not totally realistic, stereophonic sound lets the listener experience the correct sound staging of the performance.
The Stereophonic Process
The main aspect of Stereophonic sound is the division of sounds across two channels. The recorded sounds are mixed in such a way that some elements are channeled to the left part of the soundstage; others to the right.
One positive result of stereo sound is that listeners experience the correct soundstaging of symphony orchestra recordings, where sounds from the various instruments more naturally emanate from different parts of the stage. However, monophonic elements are also included. By mixing the sound from a lead vocalist in a band, into both channels, the vocalist appears to be singing from the “phantom” center channel, between the left and right channels.
Limitations Of Stereo Sound
Stereophonic Sound was a breakthrough for consumers of the 50’s and 60’s, but does have limitations. Some recordings resulted in a “ping-pong” effect in which the mixing emphasized the difference in the left and right channels too much with not enough mixing of elements in the “phantom” center channel. Also, even though the sound was more realistic, the lack of ambiance information, such as acoustics or other elements, left Stereophonic sound with a “wall effect” in which everything hit you from front and lacked the natural sound of back wall reflections or other acoustic elements.
Two developments occurred in the late 60’s and early 70’s that attempted to address limitations of stereo. Four Channel Discrete and Quadraphonic Sound.
Problems With Four-Channel Discrete
The problem with Four Channel Discrete, in which four identical amplifiers (or two stereo ones) were needed to reproduce sound, was that it was extremely expensive (these were the days of Tubes and Transistors, not IC’s and Chips).
Also, such sound reproduction was really only available on Broadcast (two FM stations each broadcasting two channels of the program simultaneously; obviously you needed two tuners to receive it all), and four channel Reel-to-Reel audio decks, which were also expensive.
In addition, Vinyl LP’s and Turntables could not handle playback of four channel discrete recordings. Although several interesting musical performances were simulcast using this technology (with a co-operating TV Station broadcasting the Video Portion), the whole set-up was too cumbersome for the average consumer.
Quad – A More Realistic Surround Approach
Taking a more realistic and affordable approach to surround sound reproduction, than that of Four Channel Discrete, the Quadraphonic format consisted of matrix encoding of four channels of information within a two channel recording. The practical result is that ambient or effects sounds could be embedded in a two channel recording that could be retrieved by a normal phono stylus and passed through to a receiver or amplifier with a Quadraphonic decoder.
In essence, Quad was the forerunner of today’s Dolby Surround (in fact, if you own any old Quad equipment–they have the ability to decode most analog Dolby Surround signals). Although Quad had the promise to bring affordable surround sound to the home environment, the requirement to buy new amplifiers and receivers, additional speakers, and ultimately lack of consensus amongst hardware and software makers on standards and programming, Quad merely ran out of gas before it could truly arrive.
The Emergence Of Dolby Surround
In the mid-70’s Dolby Labs, with breakthrough film soundtracks such as Tommy,Star Wars, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, unveiled a new surround sound process that was more easily adaptable for home use. Also, with the advent of the HiFi Stereo VCR and Stereo TV Broadcasting in the 1980’s, there was an additional avenue for which to gain public acceptance of surround sound: Home Theater.
Up to that point, listening to the sound portion of a TV Broadcast or VCR tape was like listening to a tabletop AM radio.
Dolby Surround Sound – Practical For The Home
With the ability encode the same surround information into a two channel signal that was encoded in the original Movie or TV soundtrack, software and hardware manufacturers had a new incentive to make affordable Surround sound components.
Add-on Dolby Surround processors became available for those that already owned Stereo-only receivers. As the popularity of this experience reached into the more and more homes, more affordable Dolby Surround sound receivers and amplifiers became available, finally making Surround sound a permanent part of the Home Entertainment experience.
Dolby Surround Basics
The Dolby Surround process involves encoding four channels of information–Front Left, Center, Front Right, and Rear Surround into a two channel signal. A decoding chip then decodes the four channels and sends them to the appropriate destination, the Left, Right, Rear, and Phantom Center (center channel is derived from the L/R front channels).
The result of Dolby Surround mixing is a more balanced listening environment in which the main sounds derive from the left and right channels, the vocal or dialog emanates from the center phantom channel, and the ambience or effects information comes in from behind the listener.
In musical recordings encoded with this process the sound has a more natural feel, with better acoustical cues.
In movie soundtracks the sensation of sounds moving from front to rear and left to right adds more realism to the viewing/listening experience by placing the viewer in the action. Dolby Surround is easily useful in both musical and film sound recording.
The Limitation Of Dolby Surround
Dolby Surround does have its limitations however, with the rear channel being basically passive, it lacks precise directionality. Also, overall separation between channels is much less than a typical Stereophonic recording.
Dolby Pro Logic
Dolby Pro Logic addresses the limitations of standard Dolby Surround by adding firmware and hardware elements in the decoding chip that emphasize important directional cues in a movie soundtrack. In other words, the decoding chip will add emphasis to directional sounds by increasing the output of the directional sounds in their respective channels.
This process, although not important in musical recordings, is very effective for film soundtracks and adds more accuracy to effects such as explosions, planes flying overhead, etc.. There is greater separation between channels. In addition, Dolby Pro Logic extracts a dedicated Center Channel that more accurately centers the dialog (this necessitates a center channel speaker for full effect) in a movie soundtrack.
The Limitation Of Dolby Pro-logic
Although Dolby Pro-Logic is an excellent refinement of Dolby Surround, its effects are derived strictly in the reproduction process, and even though the rear surround channel employs two speakers, they are still passing a monophonic signal, limiting rear-to-front and side-to-front motion and sound placement cues.
Dolby Digital is often referred to as a 5.1 channel system. However, it must be noted that term “Dolby Digital” refers to the digital encoding of the audio signal, not how many channels it has. In other words, Dolby Digital can be Monophonic, 2-channel, 4-channel, 5.1 channels, or 6.1 channels. However, in its most common applications, Dolby Digital 5.1 and 6.1 is often referred to as just Dolby Digital.
The Benefits Of Dolby Digital 5.1
Dolby Digital 5.1 adds both accuracy and flexibility by adding stereo rear surround channels that enable sounds to emanate in more directions, as well as a dedicated Subwoofer Channel to provide more emphasis for low frequency effects. The subwoofer channel is where the .1 designation comes from.
Also, unlike Dolby Pro-logic which requires a rear channel of only minimal power and limited frequency response, Dolby Digital encoding/decoding requires the same power output and frequency range as the main channels.
Dolby Digital encoding began on Laserdiscs, and migrated to DVD and Satellite programming, which has solidified this format in the marketplace. Since Dolby Digital involves its own encoding process, you need to have a Dolby Digital receiver or amplifier to accurately decode the signal, which is transferred from a component, such as a DVD player, via either a digital optical connector or digital coaxial connector.
Dolby Digital EX
Dolby Digital EX is actually based on the technology already developed for Dolby Digital 5.1. This process adds a third surround channel that is placed directly behind the listener.
In other words, the listener has both a front center channel and, with Dolby Digital EX, a rear center channel.
If you are losing count, the channels are labeled: Left Front, Center, Right Front, Surround Left, Surround Right, Subwoofer, with a Surround Back Center (6.1) or Surround Back Left and Surround Back Right (which would actually be a single channel – in terms of Dolby Digital EX decoding). This obviously requires another amplifier and a special decoder in the A/V Surround Receiver.
The Benefits Of Dolby Digital EX
So, what is the benefit of the EX enhancement to Dolby Digital Surround Sound?
Essentially, it boils down to this: In Dolby Digital, much of the surround sound effects move towards the listener from the front or sides. However, the sound loses some directionality as it moves along the sides to the rear, making a precise directional sense of sounds from moving objects moving or panning across the room difficult. By placing a new channel directly behind the listener, panning and positioning of sounds emanating from the sides to the rear are much more precise. Also, with the additional rear channel, it is possible to originate sounds and effects from the rear more precisely as well. This places the listener even more in the center of the action.
Dolby Digital EX Compatibility
Dolby Digital EX is completely compatible with Dolby Digital 5.1. Since the Surround EX signals are matrixed within the Dolby Digital 5.1 signal, software titles encoded with EX can still be played on existing DVD players with Dolby Digital outputs and decoded in 5.1 on existing Dolby Digital Receivers.
Although you may end up buying new EX-encoded versions of films you may have already in your collection when you finally get your EX setup running, you can still play your current DVDs through a 6.1 Channel Receiver and you will be able to play your new EX-encoded discs through a 5.1 channel receiver, which will just retain the additional information with the current 5.1 surround scheme.
Dolby Pro Logic II and Dolby Pro Logic IIx
Although the previously outlined Dolby surround sound formats are designed to decode surround that is already encoded on DVDs or other material, there are thousands of music CDs, VHS movies, Laserdiscs, and television broadcasts that contain only simple analog two channel stereo or Dolby Surround encoding.
Surround Sound For Music
Also, with surround schemes such as Dolby Digital and Dolby Digital-EX primarily designed for movie viewing, there is a lack of an effective surround process for music listening.
In fact, many discriminating audiophiles reject much of the surround sound schemes, including the new SACD (Super Audio CD) and DVD-Audio multi-channel audio formats, in favor of traditional two-channel stereo playback.
Manufacturers, such as Yamaha, have developed sound enhancement technologies(referred to as DSP – Digital Soundfield Processing) that can can place the source material in a virtual sound environment, such as a jazz club, concert hall, or stadium, but cannot “convert” two or four channel material into a 5.1 format.
The Benefits Of Dolby Pro Logic II Audio Processing
With this in mind, Dolby Labs has come to the rescue with an enhancement to its original Dolby Pro-Logic technology that can create a “simulated” 5.1 channel surround environment from a 4-Channel Dolby Surround signal (dubbed Pro-Logic II). Although not a discrete format, such as Dolby Digital 5.1 or DTS, in which each channel goes though its own encoding/decoding process, Pro Logic II makes an effective use of matrixing to deliver an adequate 5.1 representation of a film or music soundtrack. With advancements in technology since the original Pro-Logic scheme was developed over 10 years ago, channel separation is more distinct, giving Pro Logic II the character of a discrete 5.1 channel scheme, such as Dolby Digital 5.1.
Extracting Surround Sound From Stereo Sources
Another benefit of Dolby Pro Logic II, is the ability to adequately create a surround listening experience from two-channel stereo music recordings. I, for one, have been less than satisfied trying to listen to two-channel music recordings in surround sound, using standard Pro Logic.
Vocal balance, instrument placement, and transient sounds always seem to be somewhat unbalanced. There are, of course, many CD’s that are Dolby Surround or DTS encoded, which are mixed for surround listening, but the vast majority are not and thus, can benefit from the application of Dolby Pro-Logic II enhancement.
Dolby Pro Logic II also has several settings that allow the listener to adjust the soundstage to suit specific tastes. These settings are:
Dimension control, which allows users to adjust the soundstage either towards the front or towards the rear.
Center Width Control, which Allows variable adjustment of the center image so it may be heard only from the Center speaker, only from the Left/Right speakers as a “phantom” center image, or various combinations of all three front speakers.
Panorama Mode which extends the front stereo image to include the Surround speakers for a wraparound effect.
A final advantage of a Pro-Logic II decoder is that it can also perform as a “regular” 4-channel Pro-Logic decoder, so, in essence, receivers that include Pro-Logic decoders can, instead, include Pro Logic II decoders, giving the consumer more flexibility, without having to having the expense of requiring two different Pro-Logic decoders in the same unit.
Dolby Pro Logic IIx
Lastly, a more recent variant of Dolby Pro Logic II is Dolby Pro Logic IIx, which expands the extracting capabilities of Dolby Pro Logic II, including its preference settings, to 6.1 or 7.1 channels on Dolby Pro Logic IIx-equipped receivers and preamps. Dolby Pro Logic IIx serves to deliver the listening experience to a greater number of channels without having to remix and reissue the original source material. This makes your record and CD collection easily adaptable to the latest surround sound listening environments.
Dolby Prologic IIz
Dolby Prologic IIz processing is an enhancement that extends surround sound vertically. Dolby Prologic IIz offers the option of adding two more front speakers that are placed above the left and right main speakers. This feature adds a “vertical” or overhead component to the surround sound field (great for rain, helicopter, plane flyover effects).Dolby Prologic IIz can be added to either a 5.1 channel or 7.1 channel setup.
Dolby Virtual Speaker
Although the trend towards surround sound relies on adding additional channels and speakers, the requirement of multiple speakers around an entire room is not always practical. With that in mind, Dolby Labs has developed a way to create a fairly accurate surround experience that gives the illusion that you are listening to a complete surround speaker system, but is utilizing just two speakers and a subwoofer.
Dolby Virtual Speaker, when used with standard stereo sources, such as CD, creates a wider sound stage. However, when stereo sources are combined with Dolby Prologic II, or Dolby Digital encoded DVDs are played, Dolby Virtual speaker creates a 5.1 channel sound image using technology that takes into account sound reflection and how humans hear sound in a natural environment, enabling the surround sound signal to be reproduced without needing five or six speakers.
Audyssey DSX (or DSX 2)
Audyssey, a company that develops and markets automatic speaker room equalization and correction software, has developed its own immersive surround sound technology: DSX (Dynamic Surround Expansion).
DSX adds front vertical-height speakers, similar to Prologic 11z, but also incorporates the addition of left/right wide speakers positioned between the front left and right and surround left and right speakers.
DTS is also a well-known player in surround sound and has adapted its surround sound process for home use. Basic DTS is a 5.1 system just like Dolby Digital 5.1, but since DTS uses less compression in encoding process, many feel that DTS has a better result on the listening end. Also, while Dolby Digital is mainly intended for the Movie Soundtrack experience, DTS is used in the mixing and reproduction of Musical performances.
DTS has come up with its own 6.1 channel systems, in competition with Dolby Digital EX, referred to as DTS-ES Matrix and DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete. Basically, DTS-ES Matrix can create a center rear channel from existing DTS 5.1 encoded material, while DTS-ES Discrete requires that the software being played already has a DTS-ES Discrete soundtrack.
As with Dolby Digital EX, DTS-ES and DTS-ES 6.1 Discrete formats are backwards compatible with 5.1 channel DTS Receivers and DTS encoded DVDs.
In addition to DTS 5.1 and DTS-ES Matrix and Discrete 6.1 channel formats, DTS also offers DTS Neo:6. DTS Neo:6, functions in a similar fashion to Dolby Prologic II and IIx, in that, with receivers and preamps that have DTS Neo:6 decoders, it will extract a 6.1 channel surround field from existing analog two-channel material.
The next step that DTS has taken is to introduce its 11.1 channel Neo:X format. DTS Neo:X takes cues already present in either 5.1 or 7.1 channel soundtracks and creates height and wide channels, enabling a more enveloping “3D” sound.
To experience the maximum benefit of DTS Neo:X processing, it is best to have 11 speakers, with 11 channels of amplification, and a subwoofer. However, DTS Neo:X can be modified to work with a 9.1 or 9.2 channel configuration.
DTS Surround Sensation
Surround Sensation creates phantom center, left, right, and surround channels within a two-speaker or stereo headphone setup.
It is able to take any 5.1 channel input source and recreate a surround sound experience with just two speakers. In addition, surround sensation can also expand two-channel compressed audio signals (such as MP3) for a more surround-like listening experience.
SRS: Tru-Surround and Tru-Surround XT
SRS Labs is another company that also offers innovative technologies that can enhance the home theater experience (Note: As of July 23th, 2012, SRS Labs is now officially a part of DTS).
Tru-Surround has the ability to take multi-channel encoded sources, such as Dolby Digital, and reproduce the surround effect by just using two-speakers. The result is not as impressive as true Dolby Digital 5.1 (the front and side surround effects are impressive, but the rear surround effects fall a little short, with the sense they are coming from just to rear of your head rather than from the back of the room). However, with many consumers reluctant to fill their room with six or seven loudspeakers, Tru-Surround and Tru-SurroundXT do give the ability to enjoy 5.1 channel sound within a normally-limited two channel listening environment.
SRS Circle Surround and Circle Surround II
Circle Surround, on the other hand, approaches surround sound in a unique way. While Dolby Digital and DTS approach surround sound for a precise directional standpoint (specific sounds emanating from specific speakers), Circle Surround emphasizes sound immersion. To accomplish this, a normal 5.1 audio source is encoded down to two channels, then re-decoded back into 5.1 channels and redistributed back to the 5 speakers (plus subwoofer) in such a way as to create a more immersible sound without loosing the directionality of the original 5.1 channel source material.
The results are more impressive than that of Tru-Surround or Tru-Surround XT.
First, panning sounds such as flying planes, speeding cars, or trains, sound even as they cross the sound stage; often in DD and DTS, panning sounds will “dip” in intensity as they move from one speaker to the next.
Also, rear-to-front and front-to-rear sounds flow smoother as well. Second, environmental sounds, such as thunder, rain, wind, or waves full the sound field much better than in DD or DTS. For example, instead of hearing rain coming from several directions, the points in the soundfield between those directions are filled, thus placing you within the rain storm, not just listening to it.
Circle Surround provides an enhancement of Dolby Digital and similar surround sound source material without degrading the original intent of the surround sound mix.
Circle Surround II takes this concept further by adding an additional rear center channel, thus providing an anchor for sounds emanating from directly behind the listener.
Headphone Surround: Dolby Headphone, CS Headphone, Smyth Research, and DTS Headphone:X.
Surround Sound is not limited to the large-multi channel system, but can also be applied to headphone listening. SRS Labs, Dolby Labs, and Yamaha all have incorporated surround sound technology with the headphone listening environment.
Normally, when listening to audio (either music or movies) the sound seems to originate from within your head, which is unnatural. Dolby Headphone SRS Headphone and Smyth Research employ technology that not only gives the listener an enveloping sound, but removes it from within listener’s head and places the sound field in the front and side space around the head, which is more like listening to a regular speaker-based surround sound system.
In another development, DTS has developed DTS Headphone:X that can provide up to an 11.1 channel surround sound listening experience using any pair of headphones plugged into a listening device, such as a smartphone, portable media player, or home theater receiver that is equipped with DTS Headphone:X processing.
Higher Definition Surround Sound Technologies: Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio
With the introduction of Blu-ray Disc and HD-DVD, in conjunction with the HDMI interface connection, the development of high definition surround sound formats in both DTS (in the form of both DTS-HD and DTS-HD Master Audio) and Dolby Digital (in the form of Dolby Digital Plus and Dolby TrueHD) provides extended accuracy and realism.
The increased storage capacity of Blu-ray and HD-DVD, and wider bandwidth transfer capabilities of HDMI, which is required for accessing Dolby Digital Plus, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD, have allowed for true, discreet, audio reproduction for up to 7.1 Channels of surround sound, while still being backwards compatible with older 5.1 channel surround sound formats and audio/video components.
Note: HD-DVD has been discontinued but is referenced in this article for historical purposes.
Dolby Atmos and More
Beginning in 2014, another surround sound format has been in introduced for the home theater environment, Dolby Atmos. Although building on the foundation established by previous Dolby Surround Sound formats, Dolby Atmos actually frees sound mixers and listeners from the limitations of speakers and channels by putting the emphasis on where sound needs to placed within a 3-dimensional environment.
Oh No! Not More Speakers!
If home theater speaker configurations weren’t already complicated enough, you might want to buy a large spool of speaker wire if you plan to the enter the World of Dolby Atmos. Just when you thought you could handle 5.1, 7.1, and even 9.1 – you may now have to get used to some new speaker configurations as shown in the above photo, such as 5.1.2, 5.1.4, 7.1.2, or 7.1.4
The 5 and 7 represent how the speakers are normally configured around the room in a horizontal plane, the .1 represents the subwoofer (in some cases, the .1 might be .2 if you have two subwoofers), while the last number designation (in the examples provided – represent 2 or 4 ceiling speakers).
So what do you have to get to be able to accomplish this? A new (or, in select cases, upgraded) home theater receiver incorporating or adding Dolby Atmos Surround Sound decoding and processing capability, and, of course, more speakers!
Dolby Atmos Basics
Dolby Atmos is a premium surround sound experience provided in selected movie theaters worldwide. In its cinematic application, Dolby Atmos can provide up to a 64-channel surround sound listening experience that incorporates speakers in the front, back, sides, and ceiling.
However, there is more. Dolby Atmos is not entirely channel or speaker dependent as it provides sophisticated audio mixing capabilities that adds the ability to place spacial and directional metadata information for as many as 128 sound objects at one time into a soundtrack.
Upon playback, this information is extracted and assigned to its proper position in a three dimensional listening spaced using a compatible audio reproduction system. This provides the moviegoer with a totally immersive three dimensional movie listening experience (it is very effective when combine with viewing 3D movies).
From The Cinema To The Home
After two years of success in cinemas (2012-2014), Dolby has partnered up with several AV Receiver and speaker makers to bring Dolby Atmos experience into the home theater environment. Of course, only the uber-rich can afford what it would take to install the same type of Dolby Atmos system that is used in the commercial environment, so it has provided manufacturers with a physically scaled down version that it hopes will seduce consumers into making the needed upgrades to access the Dolby Atmos experience at home.
So, how can Dolby Atmos be effectively scaled down without losing its impact (besides having a receiver with the necessary number of amplifiers, connected to the necessary number of speakers)?
The key is the spacial and direct location processing algorithms. So, instead of requiring audio mixing that takes advantage of the 64-channels desired by a full-size movie theater, a sound mixer can master a Dolby Atmos soundtrack onto a Blu-ray Disc or other compatible content source (your current Blu-ray Disc player should be compatible) within a 7, 9, or 11 channel environment by placing the designated sound objects in a position in space rather than assigning them to a specific channel or speaker. The Dolby Atmos decoder/processor in the home theater receiver, upon receiving the sound mix will then place the sound objects in their correct spatial relationship in relationship to the listener, similar to what the listener would experience in a movie theater, based on the number of channels and speakers it has to work with in the home setup.
Filling In The Soundfield Gaps
With surround processing formats already found on many home theater receivers, such as Dolby Prologic IIz, you can add a broader front sound stage, and Audyssey DSX can fill in the side sound filed – but as sound moves from channel to channel and overhead – you can experience sound dips, gaps, and jumps (now the sound is here, now the sound is there) – in other words, as that helicopter flies around the room, Godzilla wreaks destruction, and, let’s face it – rain and storms never sound quite right, the sound may appear wobbly rather than smooth as the filmmaker intended. In other words, you may not be experience a continuous wrap-around sound field when their should be one.
Easy-to-Add Speaker Solution Possibilities
However, although Dolby Atmos will still require adding extra speakers, they, and their manufacturing partners have come up with some solutions that may not mean you actually have to physically hang or place speakers inside your ceiling.
One solution that will be offered are small Dolby Atmos-compatible vertically firing speaker modules can be placed right on top of the front left/right and left/right surround speakers in your current layout – it doesn’t get rid of the extra speaker wires, but it does make it more attractive than running speaker wire up your walls (or having to go into the walls).
Another option being offered are speakers designed to include both horizontally and vertically firing drivers within the same cabinet (practical if you are putting together a system from scratch or switching out your current speaker setup). This would also decrease the physical number of actual speaker cabinets needed, but just as with the module option, it doesn’t necessarily cut down on the number of speaker wires you need.
What makes the speaker module or all-in-one horizontal/vertical speaker system work is that the vertically firing speaker drivers are designed to be highly directional, enabling them to project sound so that it bounces off of the ceiling before dispersing into the room. This creates an immersive soundfield that appears to come from overhead. Average living and home theater rooms would have speaker-to-ceiling distances that should work, however, rooms with highly angled cathedral ceilings might be an issue and vertical sound projection and ceiling reflection would not be optimal to create the best overhead soundfield. For that scenario, strategy-placed ceiling speakers may be the only option.
So, Are You Game?
Onkyo is out of the gate a broad Dolby Atmos-enabled product including, including two new home theater receivers (TX-NR1030, TX-NR3030), AV processor (PR-SC5530, forthcoming firmware updates for three existing receivers (TX-NR636, 737, and 838), two new Home Theater-in-a-Box Systems (HT-S7700, HT-S9700) and two add-on speaker products (SKS-HT693, SKH-410).
Conclusion – For Now…
Today’s surround sound experience is the result of decades of evolution. The surround sound experience is now easily accessible, practical, and affordable for the consumer, with more to come in the future. Go get surrounded!
Taken from http://hometheater.about.com/od/beforeyoubuy/a/surroundsound_5.htm