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Old 12-07-2020, 11:46   #1
AdamBrunt
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Upgrading to an Atmos soundbar setup ?

Hi all,

I currently have a very old 5.1 DTS system. This is fed from a 5 port HDMI switch ( taking feeds from SKY HD, Fire TV and a Pi running Kodi ). The switch sends the sound to the 5.1 system via digital optical and the video via HDMI to the TV.

As I understand it, Dolby Atmos can not be passed through digital optical but only HDMI. Is that correct ? If so, do I need to check on anything on the switch to make sure Atmos will be supported or should it all just work ? Also does Atmos need 'newer' HDMI than I am probably currently using ?

Also with this new soundbar [ when I decide which one to get ] would the switch just send everything to the soundbar ( which passes the video on to the TV ) ? Or does the switch now just feed the TV which then passes the sound ( via HDMI ARC ) back to the soundbar ? If the TV has an ARC socket then in my setup should Atmos be supported ?

TIA for any help.
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Old 12-07-2020, 15:18   #2
alsemail
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I can answer some of it.

Yes, you need HDMI for Atmos. Optical is limited to DD5.1/DTS 7.1

As it stands there are 2 kinds of Atmos, sort of.

There's the Atmos that's contained in streaming apps, which is Dolby Digital Plus (DD+), this is effectively the upgrade from DD5.1 supporting up to 8 channels and able to contain metadata for Atmos. Not all DD+ is Atmos though, it just has the capability.

The other kind of Atmos is the one contained in a Dolby TrueHD file, this again is metadata but of a much higher bitrate with better quality audio. You'll get this on a few Blurays but mainly UHD discs.
The one other non-Atmos, Atmos, is DTS-X, it's effectively the same thing in a competing format. This is a DTS-HD MA track, again with object-based metadata, to give overhead sounds. So far, this has been limited to UHD discs.

A lot of soundbars will do DD+ but won't do all the other formats so do a bit of research.
The Sonos Arc for example does them all I believe, but only over eARC as it has no HDMI input and if your TV has no eARC then you're only going to get DD+ which means you won't get Atmos on a disc, only via streaming unless you have one of the few TV's that can pass Atmos through.

Atmos should pass through any version of HDMI cable so you only need to change them if you're upgrading to a better TV (1080p to 4K for example or a non-HDR 4K TV to one that does). Cables for this don't need to be expensive but should be labelled High-Speed (or Hi-Speed). Version numbers for cables is nonsense and is often used to fool and confuse consumers.

Will your splitter work, I honestly have no idea. If it's designed to work with the cables you currently use and you need to upgrade, possibly not. I really don't know as I've never used one or looked at them.

An alternative thought, instead of purchasing a soundbar. Is to upgrade your AVR and use your existing speakers. You can purchase additional ones for Atmos duties and a new AVR would allow you to get rid of your HDMI switch.
This would give you a lot more flexibility regarding sound formats and as long as your speakers are decent, would give better audio than most soundbars.

Last edited by alsemail; 12-07-2020 at 15:41.
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Old 12-07-2020, 17:01   #3
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Thanks for that, @alsemail.

My current AVR is a Yamaha VS-10 and has a proprietary connection to the subwoofer so I assuming a new AVR would also require a new sub.

The TV is not changing ( though it is not 4k ) so hopefully it sounds like the switch will work and I just need to check which Atmos formats the soundbar supports.
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Old 12-07-2020, 17:21   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AdamBrunt View Post
My current AVR is a Yamaha VS-10 and has a proprietary connection to the subwoofer so I assuming a new AVR would also require a new sub.
Does the sub not maybe have an RCA type connector on it as well. If it does then you just need a cable for a new AVR, if not then you'd need a sub as well.

Looking at your current AVR, it's not really a separates system, it's a Home Theatre in a Box type of affair which could give issues with impedance ratings on your other speakers and a new AVR. The speakers in these type of things usually aren't of that good a quality so it's probably not worth keeping them.

Depending upon what you're looking at then it looks like you need a whole new system/soundbar.
Depending upon the soundbar, it can still be cheaper to buy separates.

On another forum a couple of us steered a member away from buying a new Sonos Arc soundbar, Sonos sub and Sonos rear speakers as it would have cost £1800, it wouldn't have worked how he wanted it, without spending a fortune on a new TV and he was under the (mistaken) impression Sonos would give him the best sound. For that kind of money you could buy a really decent separates system and we helped him choose one.

Ultimately it's all down to budget, convenience, looks and your desire to get what you want out of it. Not everyone wants a room full of speakers.

Last edited by alsemail; 12-07-2020 at 17:23.
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Old 12-07-2020, 19:00   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alsemail View Post
Does the sub not maybe have an RCA type connector on it as well. If it does then you just need a cable for a new AVR, if not then you'd need a sub as well.

Looking at your current AVR, it's not really a separates system, it's a Home Theatre in a Box type of affair which could give issues with impedance ratings on your other speakers and a new AVR. The speakers in these type of things usually aren't of that good a quality so it's probably not worth keeping them.
I was imagining it would be a problem. Whilst all the speakers are currently connected by banana clips (IIRC front left and right to the amp, rear left and right and center from the sub) I can't imagine that by today's standards they have much oompf. They have served me well though, good and faithful friends

Quote:
Originally Posted by alsemail View Post
Depending upon what you're looking at then it looks like you need a whole new system/soundbar.
Depending upon the soundbar, it can still be cheaper to buy separates.

On another forum a couple of us steered a member away from buying a new Sonos Arc soundbar, Sonos sub and Sonos rear speakers as it would have cost £1800, it wouldn't have worked how he wanted it, without spending a fortune on a new TV and he was under the (mistaken) impression Sonos would give him the best sound. For that kind of money you could buy a really decent separates system and we helped him choose one.

Ultimately it's all down to budget, convenience, looks and your desire to get what you want out of it. Not everyone wants a room full of speakers.
Never been a fan of the Sonos thing and, besides, £1800 is about £900 over budget

As a quide, the Samsung Q90R would be ideal for our needs, in terms of both functionality & features and being at the top end of out budget, but had to be discounted as the sound bar is too long for the space it needs to go in; the TV is 40" and cabinet it is on is not much wider hence the limitation on the soundbar.

Other options currently being considered are the Vizio 36” Home Cinema System 5.1.2 Channel with Dolby Atmos, the JBL 9.1 and the Sony HTZ-F9 with additional rears [ the -ve with the Sony is that you only get 'Atmos' from the front whilst the Vizio and JBL having upfiring speakers front & rear ]

As you can probably tell, we are no audiophiles. We are just after as minimalist 5.1 (plus) system as possible.
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Old 12-07-2020, 19:51   #6
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I don't really know much about soundbars to be honest.

Possibly have a browse over on AVF as there is a dedicated soundbar area of the forum and a few reviews.

https://www.avforums.com/reviews/viz...r-review.17607
https://www.avforums.com/reviews/jbl...r-review.17696
https://www.avforums.com/reviews/son...9-review.15334

You do say space is an issue, so would the JBL be suitable as you have to connect it into one long length to recharge the speakers. Just a thought.
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Old 13-07-2020, 09:48   #7
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I need to check whether the stated dimensions inc the speakers attached or not. It is more an asthetic thing, overnight charging should be OK.
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