24Bit + Dolby At­mos Are The New Tech­nolo­gies

Sound­bars Have Ma­tured And The Op­tions Are Greater

SmartHouse - - FIRST LOOK // SOUNDBARS - Writ­ten by DAVID RICHARDS

Dur­ing the past 24 months we have seen a sig­nif­i­cant change in sound­bar de­sign and what is on of­fer. You can now get sound­bars with Dolby At­mos and 24-bit au­dio, while th­ese new fea­tures do not come with the new Sonos Beam sound­bar they are ap­pear­ing in sound­bars from the likes of LG, Sony Pana­sonic and brands such as Denon HEOS and later this year Polk.

Dolby At­mos is the hottest of the new tech­nol­ogy. It’s es­sen­tially a sur­round sound tech­nol­ogy that was orig­i­nally im­ple­mented in movie the­atres in 2012.

It al­lows for up to 128 sep­a­rate au­dio tracks, as well as as­so­ci­ated spa­tial au­dio de­scrip­tion meta­data. In sim­ple terms, that means the­atres re­ceive in­for­ma­tion on the per­fect way to op­ti­mize their sound sys­tems for a par­tic­u­lar movie.

The cool part is that each and ev­ery au­dio track can be as­signed to an au­dio chan­nel and then ren­dered in real time, so you get true sur­round sound to the best of a par­tic­u­lar theatre’s ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

The first movie to use Dolby At­mos tech­nol­ogy was Dis­ney/Pixar’s “Brave”, and the first Blu-ray to use it was “Trans­form­ers: Age of Ex­tinc­tion”. Video games soon fol­lowed suit, and Dolby At­mos is catch­ing on! Now sound­bars have the tech­nol­ogy built-in, and through spe­cific ren­der­ing of the mul­ti­tude of au­dio tracks present, you can get “room-filling” and near-sur­round sound from just a sound­bar and sub­woofer.

There was a time when the dig­i­tal mu­sic world was once ruled by the 128kbps MP3 file. Our mu­sic was mo­bile, and heav­ily com­pressed, and to any­one who had been used to CD or vinyl, it sounded pretty ter­ri­ble. Lossy MP3, WMA and AAC mu­sic ripped from CDs or down­loaded was the way of things … un­til re­cently when 24bit au­dio started to ap­pear.

The gen­er­ally ac­cepted def­i­ni­tion of High Res Au­dio is an ana­logue fre­quency re­sponse of at least 40kHz, and a min­i­mum of 24-bit 96kHz dig­i­tal record­ing and play­back. In com­par­i­son a 16bit sig­nal or CD qual­ity sound has 96dB of dy­namic range, and a 24 bit sig­nal has 144dB. Com­pared to an LP, which couldn’t con­tain the full dy­namic range of mu­sic, a 24 bit sys­tems gives an ad­di­tional 48dB of dy­namic range. This tech­nol­ogy can be found in both the Blue­sound and Heos as well as LG and Sam­sung sound­bars.

Yamaha YPS 2700 Sound­bar

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