The B&W lineup of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers is one of the largest on the market, with a model for just about every possible situation. For home theater use, we like to break built-in speakers into three categories: in-wall, in-ceiling, and purpose-built LCR speakers. If you look at all of the B&W models, just picking ones within ...
Dolby Atmos Music Streaming Services
How to Stream Dolby Atmos Music.
At Audio Advice, we are big fans of Dolby Atmos — and right now, with all the exciting hi-res music streaming news and support for Dolby Atmos coming to Apple Music and others, you do not want to choose a streaming service for music until you read this. You may even consider switching to one of the streaming services in this comparison after reading this.
Before we begin, we have another comparison and video on the best streaming services for hi-res music — but here, we are focusing on the streaming services that can do Dolby Atmos 3D Audio — for music!
Some of these streaming services call Dolby Atmos Music by different names. Apple Music is calling it Spacial Audio while Tidal calls it Dolby Atmos Music and Amazon HD calls it 3D Audio tracks. While the names are different, the technology is the same. So, let’s talk about what Dolby Atmos for music really is — and why we think this is a breakthrough for not just movie watching — but a major breakthrough for music produced by our favorite artists, as well.
We will cover all the sources available to take full advantage of it, and then we will discuss some of the best music streaming platforms out there to experience this multidimensional presentation of sound that comes all around you. Currently, the music streaming platforms that offer support for the Dolby Atmos format are:
As more Dolby Atmos content becomes available, we will add them here. So, bookmark this comparison — we will update this page as the competition heats up!
What Is Dolby Atmos Music?
Dolby Atmos adds elevation to your soundstage. So, rather than sound simply going from left to right and front to back, Atmos lets you experience sound from top to bottom too. This technology immerses you in a world of sounds as if they were occurring in three-dimensional space.
Learn more about Atmos in How Surround Sound Evolved Into Dolby Atmos Technology.
For example, in movies, you can experience when the sound of a helicopter flies right over you with a true 3D sense of presentation. When the helicopter lands, you’ll hear and feel the sound travel down to your level just like it does in real life. To experience it with movies, you need a hardware source that can decode the Dolby Atmos content, and you’ll also need content that is encoded in this immersive format. And of course, you will need either an Atmos home theater system or a Dolby Atmos-enabled soundbar.
We cover all of this in our 2021 Best Dolby Atmos Soundbars comparison.
Now, for music, Dolby Atmos enables musicians to mix their music so it sounds like the instruments are all around you in three-dimensional space — and this is where the breakthrough exists. For decades the audio world has tried to recreate the sound you experience at a live concert by trying to synthesize sounds for the additional speakers in a home theater system. These processes worked ok, but they always sounded a little fake to our ears. With Dolby Atmos technology, the engineers can actually capture the full immersive sound of a live performance or mix a studio recording to completely cover us in the sound the artist desires.
So, it’s not just about getting great Dolby Atmos content on Netflix, Disney+, or HBOMax anymore. Now, it’s also about getting music that is three-dimensional. This means people who are into 2 channel music now have a reason to do full-room home theaters.
With tracks being mastered in immersive audio, if you to get the full experience, you’ll want speakers all around the room with Atmos-based receivers and processors. You can also use Atmos-enabled soundbars to experience Dolby Atmos music.
If you have a Dolby Atmos soundbar or even a full-room Atmos installation, your Atmos-enabled home theater system (or multichannel media room) just got way more valuable — and since Apple has announced Spacial Audio for their platform on Apple Music, the rules of high-performance audio are probably about to change. Apple has obviously been known to disrupt industries and we think their Spatial Music platform will quickly drive our favorite artists to record their new albums in Dolby Atmos.
How to Get Dolby Atmos Music
Here, we will cover all the music streaming services that offer Dolby Atmos encoded music. Then, we will cover the source hardware you can use to send that great Dolby Atmos signal to your home theater system or soundbar that will unlock access to this immersive format.
Apple tells us that Spatial Audio will give artists the opportunity to create immersive audio experiences for their fans with true multi-dimensional sound. Apple says it has already added thousands of Spatial Audio tracks to Apple Music with Dolby Atmos with more being added on a regular basis.
Spacial Audio is available on Apple Music for no additional cost. The catch is you will need a compatible Apple device as your Dolby Atmos decoder to take full advantage of all the features offered by this service. Apple says, AirPods and Beats headphones with an H1 or W1 chip will play tracks encoded with Dolby Atmos, or you can connect your Apple TV 4K to a compatible TV or multichannel AV receiver.
The first-generation Apple TV 4K that was released back in 2017 (with the Model number: A1842) and the newest second-generation Apple TV 4K with the new Siri remote that came out more recently in 2021 both support audio output of up to 7.1.4 channels and Dolby Atmos.
You can use the Tidal app or Apple Music for Atmos Music. If you plan to use the Apple Music service an Apple TV is by far your best source. While you can make it work on an Android system, it is not a great experience. It is a little easier on Amazon Fire TV, but you have to use it as an Alexa skill as there is not an app.
The new second-gen Apple TV 4K is truly the gateway into multichannel Atmos over the HDMI connection. The new Apple TV 4K has been upgraded to the eARC HDMI port which is an important feature to keep in mind when shopping for a high-performance Dolby Atmos soundbar, a multichannel Atmos-enabled AV Receiver or a TV this year. The eARC HDMI connection (or Enhanced Audio Return Channel) is the evolution of HDMI ARC and this is what you need to transmit full Dolby Atmos from the Atmos source or TV back down the HDMI cable — without compression.
If your Dolby Atmos source is the older first-gen Apple TV 4K, you should still be able to experience Spacial Audio with Apple Music, depending on your Atmos-enabled soundbar or your surround channel Atmos-enabled A/V receiver — but you may not be getting the full Atmos experience.
Amazon Music HD
If you prefer to venture outside of the Apple ecosystem, then you’ll be happy to know Amazon Music HD has over one thousand 3D tracks, mastered in Dolby Atmos and music mixed in Sony’s immersive 360 Reality Audio codecs from some of the world’s biggest artists. You will need a pair of AptX HD-enabled wireless headphones like the Sony WH-1000XM4 noise-canceling headphones to take full advantage of it. In addition to 3D Audio, Amazon Music HD subscribers can get Dolby Atmos on the Echo Studio.
If you are in the Amazon Music System, you will need a newer Fire TV product to experience their 3D sound on your system. While Amazon Music HD offers quite a bit of what they call 3D Audio, we were only able to get it to output Dolby Atmos on a Fire TV product, using the app in other devices did not output Atmos. As this becomes a more popular format, we suspect they will update the Amazon Music app for other services.
- Roku Ultra
- Echo Studio
- Amazon Fire TV Cube
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- AptX HD-enabled wireless headphones
If you are a Tidal fan, the Tidal Masters plan offers 360 Reality Audio and Dolby Atmos Music. We have been listening to the Dolby Atmos tracks on Tidal for while, and it's really cool how the mixing engineers put voices in different spots and instruments in a way that you just cannot do in 2-channel music.
For Tidal fans, the choices are much wider. In addition to the Apple TV, Tidal Atmos music can be delivered on the later generation Fire TV products, 2019 and newer Nvidia Shield devices, and the later generation Sony or Philips TVs that support Dolby Atmos. You’ll be able to access the Tidal Music app in any of these. To see if your Sony or Philips TV is Atmos ready, look for an eARC HDMI connection. Tidal enables Atmos Music tracks on the following hardware sources:
- Apple TV 4K models
- Roku Ultra
- Nvidia Shield
- Amazon Fire TV Stick 4K
- Amazon Fire TV Cube
- The TIDAL app on Android TVs from Sony and Philips also do Dolby Atmos Music.
If you are using your TV as a Dolby Atmos source and it supports HDMI eARC, all you’ll have to do is connect an HDMI cable from your TV to the Atmos-enabled soundbar, and you’re done. But, it’s important to note you will not get true 3D Dolby Atmos surround sound without a TV that features the newer eARC connection (unless you use an AVR with video passthrough). We have another full-written comparison on all the best Sony TV models out right now, and all of those models have the eARC connection.
Dolby Atmos Playback Options
For playback, you will need a newer home theater system equipped with a home theater receiver or processor that decodes Atmos and the appropriate speaker package.
For more on how to set up an Atmos theater, check out our free home theater design guide.
Another option for playback is one of the newer Dolby Atmos soundbars. For use with a soundbar, you will need a compatible Sony TV that has eARC or a soundbar that would allow you to connect up an Apple TV, Fire TV, or Nvidia Shield. While Apple is touting Spatial Audio on their headphones and some other brands, we have listened to this and can tell you that while it throws the sound around, it is nothing like listening on a real home theater.
We do expect things to expand as this technology becomes more of a standard in the music industry. As more Dolby Atmos sources for music become available, be sure to bookmark this page and check back later.
That concludes our take on streaming services that can do Dolby Atmos 3D Audio for music! Since Apple is bringing Spacial Audio to the music streaming market, it will quickly become the new normal.
At Audio Advice, we predict that 2 channel stereo will no longer be the standard for matching the master recording. That means full home theater rooms, soundbars, and headphones that can play in 3D will be the standard if you want great audio — and this will increase the value of investing in an Atmos system — full room, if possible, and soundbar-based, if not.
If you have any questions on these platforms or how your home audio or home theater gear can be set up to take full advantage of all the cool 3D Atmos features coming to music streaming, just give us a call, chat with us on AudioAdvice.com, or stop into one of our award-winning showrooms.
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