Sonos has ruled out Dolby Atmos for its new compact soundbar, the Sonos Beam.
In a candid interview with the company's sound experience leader, Giles Martin, he told Pocket-lint that, while he is an avid fan of Dolby's latest surround sound technology, it wasn't right for the Beam: "The Sonos Beam doesn't support Dolby Atmos," he confirmed. "This is a small product and you have to get it right. We wanted to make sure the dialogue was clear, it has good bass, and it is much better to have the right technology to do that, rather than adding it [Atmos] and getting it wrong."
Martin has created numerous projects in Dolby Atmos in the past himself, including a secret remaster of his father's original recording of The Beatles' Sergent Pepper album. And he agrees that it would have been good to have Atmos support on the Beam, but not at the cost of conflicting with its other audio properties.
He should know. A two-time Grammy Award-winning music producer, songwriter, composer and multi-instrumentalist, Martin has extensive experience both as a musician and music director. He has worked with some of the world’s biggest-selling artists and has been critically acclaimed for his record production, live show, television and film creation.
His production and mixing credits include working with Paul McCartney, Jeff Beck, Kate Bush and The Beatles. He has also worked on movies for Martin Scorsese, Matthew Vaughn and Ron Howard.
"I agree it would be a good thing to stick on the side of the product, but it has to work. And its not something you can simply do via software unless you trying to create the experience virtually," he added.
"You have to understand what Dolby is and does. I've done lots of projects in Dolby Atmos and we work with others that do too, but if you get it wrong it's confusing. I am really vested in Dolby Atmos as a creator, but in this project it didn't make any sense."
Dolby Atmos is still a fledgling experience for the home. While Apple has announced that it's Apple TV 4K box will support the technology later this year and Sky Q has started to range some films and sporting events with Dolby Atmos sound, Martin believes that to achieve the experience in the home properly, you'll have to invest in some expensive kit: "For now, it's still very much a cinema experience for the most part," he said.
"It can be really immersive, but if you don't play it through a good system it doesn't sound good. Ultimately, you don't want it to sound worse."
That's rules Sonos out for the moment, but doesn't mean the company couldn't look to create a Dolby Atmos product in the future:
"I think we [Sonos] could be able to do it, but it's a bigger cost. It would be more suited to the Sonos Playbar in that respect, rather than what we are trying to achieve with the Sonos Beam."
The Sonos Beam will cost £399 / $399 and launches on 17 July. It is available for pre-order now.