Dolby Atmos is shaking up the home entertainment world, creating a more enveloping sound stage than traditional 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround-sound systems by adding height channels.

The extra height allow Atmos to be more accurate with sound placement, giving a more detailed and enhanced audio experience, a better reflection of what the director intended.

Of course, for the best effect, you'll want to visit a fully kitted out cinema, but that's not to say you can't get a good Dolby Atmos system in your home. Since its introduction, manufacturers have been producing equipment for the home, from soundbars to AV receivers, complete speaker packages and dedicated height channel add-on speakers.

If Dolby Atmos is something you want in your home, here is the essential kit you need to get you started, as well as essential Atmos sources.

The easiest way to get Dolby Atmos in your home is to invest in a dedicated soundbar. There are now a range of options if a soundbar is your preference, with options for virtualised Atmos soundstages, as well as those with physical rear channels.

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  • Soundbar with wireless subwoofer
  • No rear channels
  • 4K HDR pass-through

Sony's Atmos soundbar may be expensive, but you get an awful lot of 'bar for your money and an impressive Atmos effect. It looks great and if you can, we recommend removing the speaker grille to reveal Sony's gorgeous coaxial drivers.

It's well equipped to accept virtually any source too, thanks to its support of 4K HDR and Dolby Vision pass-through, as well as its myriad connections, including Bluetooth, Spotify Connect, Chromecast and Wi-Fi.

As for sound quality, it's quite simply exemplary. The ST5000 delivers movie soundtracks with serious power and clarity from its 7.1.2 setup. The Atmos effect itself is good, although if Sony included additional rear speakers, it would be even better. Still, there's definitely extra height that you don't get from "regular" soundbars, and this is what you'll be buying it for.

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  • Soundbar with wireless subwoofer
  • No rear channels
  • 4K pass-through, no 4K HDR pass-through

LG's Dolby Atmos soundbar offering comes in the form of the SJ9. It's a sleek unit, although because of the two upfiring speaker drivers, is a little deeper than other 'bars, so make sure you have the space for it before investing.

It can't quite compete with the Sony when it comes to number of connections though, although its single HDMI input does support 4K pass-through, so connecting a 4K source is no problem at all, although it doesn't support HDR. 

It also has built-in Wi-Fi and an Ethernet connection for getting it running on your home network, meaning you can use the companion MusicFlow app to control all aspects of the SJ9.

There are no rear channels to the SJ9, so the full Dolby Atmos effect comes from the bar itself, and it's a very good one indeed. Objects placed behind you aren't as effective as systems with dedicated rear speakers, but there is certainly a good sense of height, so objects do sound like they're overheard. Overall, the LG SJ9 is a very capable soundbar and affordable too.

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  • Soundbar with wireless subwoofer
  • Rear channel speakers for more immersive Atmos effect
  • 4K HDR pass-through

The Samsung HW-K950 is an all-together different proposition to the LG and Sony, and that's because it has rear speakers. The biggest benefit of this type of soundbar package is that can provide a genuinely immersive Atmos and surround-sound effect.

The downside of course, is that you need to make sure you have the space to accommodate those rear speakers. In an ideal world, they'd sit on stands behind your sofa or the main listening position. If you don't have the space for stands, you can opt to wall-mount them instead. They're wireless, so you don't need to worry about them being close to the soundbar.

Like the Sony, the K950 supports 4K HDR pass-through, so connecting your sources poses no problems, and there are two HDMI inputs making it a little more versatile than the LG.

But what about the overall Atmos effect? Well, it's one of the best we've heard from a soundbar. The rear channels, which have upfiring speakers themselves, help to create a genuine enveloping sound bubble in your room and the wireless subwoofer provides the low-end grunt required to high-intensity action scenes.

Some audio manufacturers have made getting a complete Dolby Atmos system incredibly easy by bundling everything you need together in one box. They will take up more space than a soundbar, so this is something you need to think about before you go ahead and buy, but with extra channels placed all around the room, the Atmos effect will be more effective than that from a soundbar.

The important thing to consider is what other functions you're getting - for example does it have enough HDMI inputs for all your sources?

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  • AV receiver with five speakers and subwoofer
  • Two speakers with integrated Atmos height channels 
  • 4K HDR pass-through on S7805, 4K pass-through on S5805
  • Wired speakers

Onkyo is one manufacturer that provides a complete one-box solution. Not only do you get all the speakers you need to create a Dolby Atmos system, but you get an AV receiver to connect them all to as well. While the two systems Onkyo offers are similar in terms of operation, the S7805 package has a more powerful AVR and slightly different speakers, the subwoofer is the same.

Onkyo's systems aren't wireless, so you will need to make sure you have a nifty way of hiding the cables, either running them around the room, or if you can, through the walls.

The AVR with the S7805 package supports 4K HDR pass-through, but the S5805's AVR only supports 4K. If you're someone who either already has, or wants to invest in HDR picture tech, this is something of importance. If you already have an Atmos AVR, you can get the Onkyo speakers on their own, and neatly they have up-firing channels combined into the left and right speakers for a tidy solution.

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  • Soundbar, rear channels and subwoofer
  • No AVR, subwoofer carries out sound decoding
  • Completely wire-free

For a more convenient solution, UK audio company Damson has the S-Series wireless Dolby Atmos speaker package. All the components need is power, as they connect and "talk" to each other wirelessly. You don't need an AV receiver either, as the subwoofer handles all decoding duties. The system comprises a soundbar, subwoofer, two S-Cube rear surround speakers and a Dolby Atmos speaker module that docks onto the soundbar.

The S-Cube surrounds each have a built-in battery, so you can lose the power cable for 8 hours of playback time (from each speaker) and the S-Woofer subwoofer has dual HDMI inputs, both of which can handle Dolby Vision and HDR10 video sources.

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  • Wired speaker package
  • Need to add Dolby Atmos AVR

French audio company Focal has a rich heritage of producing high-end speakers that delivery superb sound quality. The company's Sib Evo 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker package should therefore continue that tradition.

You do need an AV receiver to connect the speakers to, but most models nowadays (even budget ones) support the audio format. The package comprises five satellite speakers, two of which feature 10cm upward firing drivers to deliver the Atmos effect, and a 200 Watt subwoofer.

For a proper home entertainment experience, you'll want an AV receiver. They provide a lot more power than a soundbar can, and can support a large number of speaker channels to create your own mini cinema, as well as supporting more inputs.

As with the speaker packages, you'll need to make sure you have the space to accommodate an AVR and the accompanying speakers, but if you can, you'll be rewarded with an incredibly effective Dolby Atmos cinema.

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  • 7.2-channel AVR
  • 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker system
  • Multitude of connections
  • 4K HDR pass-through

If you're taking your first steps into the world of Dolby Atmos AVRs, an ideal starting point would be the Denon AVR-X2400. It's a 7.2-channel amplifier, meaning you can use it in a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos setup (five surround speakers, one subwoofer and two height channel speakers). It supports 4K HDR pass-through, and can accept music streamed wirelessly via AirPlay, Spotify Connect, Bluetooth, DLNA or even via Denon's own Heos platform. 


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  • 13.2-channel AVR
  • 7.1.6 or 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos speaker systems
  • Multitude of connections
  • 4K HDR pass-through

If you really want to ramp up the power, and the number of speaker channels available, the Denon AVR-X8500H is definitely worth a look. Its 13-channels of amplification mean you can create 7.1.6 or 9.1.4 Dolby Atmos systems - you will of course need the space for the surrounds and up to six height channels, whether they be add-on modules or in-ceiling speakers. It supports full 4K HDR pass-through via its eight HDMI inputs and has the same connectivity options as the X2400.

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  • 7.2-channel AVR
  • 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos speaker system - Phantom Surround Back setting emulates 7.1.2
  • 4K HDR pass-through

Sony's STR-DN1080 is an ideal all-rounder. It has plenty of HDMI inputs for your 4K sources (six of them), can stream music from a wide range of services thanks to Spotify Connect and Chromecast built-in, and can produce a 7.1.2 Dolby Atmos effect from a 5.1.2 setup. 

It supports a wide range of audio codecs too, for the highest possible sound quality, and you can even control it using voice thanks to Google Home support. 4K HDR pass-through is supported, and support for Dolby Vision and Hybrid Log Gamma make it fully future proof.

If you already have a surround sound speaker system at home, then the good news is you don't need to replace it. All you need to do is swap out your AVR - if it doesn't already support Dolby Atmos - and add some Dolby Atmos speaker modules. These sit on top of your current speakers and fire sound up towards your ceiling, for it to bounce back down to your listening position. 


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  • Dolby Atmos add-on speaker module
  • Available in black or white
  • 5.25-inch bass/mid driver, 1-inch aluminium tweeter

The KEF R50 Atmos speaker modules were some of the first on the market, way back in 2014. You don't need to have a KEF system already in order to get them, as they will place nice with whatever speakers you already have. Better yet, they can sit on top of standmount or floorstanding speakers, making them truly versatile. 

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  • Dolby Atmos add-on speaker module
  • 8cm paper cone
  • 100 Watts power

Onkyo offers a much more affordable pair of Dolby Atmos add-on speaker modules. They too can be placed on top of your current home cinema speakers or can be wall-mounted to give the added height channels needed for an Atmos system.  

Getting a Dolby Atmos speaker system, in whatever capacity, in your home is all well and good, but it will be pretty useless unless you have some movies to watch through it. You will need to make sure you have a compatible source: one that can play 4K Blu-ray discs, as these are the ones with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, or one that can stream 4K content. 

Sky added Dolby Atmos support to its Q set-top box in August 2017, in time for the start of the 2017/18 Premier League season. Since then, Sky has added Atmos support to a selection of films, but all Premier League football matches broadcast in Ultra HD have Atmos too.

Netflix has a selection of films available to stream with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack, but you need to be a subscriber to Netflix's Ultra HD tier to access Atmos-enabled films. You can also only watch Dolby Atmos content on Netflix through an Xbox One S, Xbox One X, 2017/18 LG OLED TVs or a Microsoft Windows 10 PC.

Streaming and watching through a set-top box may be convenient, but for the best in picture and sound you will want to turn to physical media. It's really Blu-ray that offers the biggest bang for your buck in Dolby Atmos. There are a lot of movies available with Atmos soundtrack both on regular Blu-ray and Ultra HD Blu-ray - with Atmos bringing the definition and detail that you'll lack without it. It doesn't have to be about action and explosions either, there are plenty of movies which use Atmos to create immersion and tension really effectively.