There are many audio and visual technologies out there today. Whether it is for making your dream audiophile set up, your home theater, or even plans for going to the cinema, we all ask, Is Dolby worth it?
Yes, Dolby is worth it. Dolby is excellent for home theaters and cinema experience; it keeps its performance up even when it comes to listening to music with deep immersion. You can even use Dolby to enhance your gaming experience, especially plot-driven games.
I know these few words cannot convince you. So, I’ll go in-depth on why I think Dolby is worth it on so many ends. I’ll first start by analyzing if Dolby is worth it from a technical standpoint before moving on to comparing it with other relevant technologies.
Phase 1: Analysis
Dolby is worth it in both cinemas and games. For music, however, not so much. I’ll go further into analyzing why I think Dolby is worth it. Let’s first get into Dolby Atmos and if it is worth it on the consumer end.
Is Dolby Atmos Worth it?
Yes, Dolby Atmos is worth it in gaming and cinema experience because of the spatial sound technology it offers. Furthermore, it provides deep immersion for music as well, so audiophiles who want to go the extra mile will love it.
Dolby Atmos is the latest surround sound technology of Dolby. It has a spatial sound technology that allows us to perceive objects and their movements with the impressive soundstage.
Here’s a table with the specifications of Dolby Atmos-
|Sound Pressure Level||105dB|
|Frequency Range||40 Hz to 16 kHz, +3/–6 dB|
|Frequency Response||80 Hz to 16 kHz, ±3 dB|
|The Difficulty of Setting Up||Tough|
|Defining Feature||Audio Object Configuration|
This is the analysis you want to focus on if you’re considering setting up a Dolby surround sound system for your home theater or gaming setup. Otherwise, your music setup if you’re looking into that.
Here’s how that affects gaming and music, as well as the movies. Let’s get right into the meat of the matter without further ado-
Dolby Atmos for Gaming
Dolby Atmos is absolutely worth it for gaming with the immersion it creates due to superior spatial sounds. However, it is also quite expensive, taking away some points.
I’ll first talk about the audio features that matter in games and how I would rate Dolby Atmos in each.
These features make for amazing immersion, but Dolby Atmos clearly falls behind on the competitive gaming part. To make it clearer for you, I’ve included a table for you.
Here’s a table explaining the performance of Dolby Atmos on different kinds of games.
|Game Type||Dolby Atmos|
|Story-Driven Games||Absolutely Worth it|
|Multiplayer Games||Does not Make a big difference|
|Esports||Not Worth it|
So, in summary, for story-driven games, immersion and details matter the most. In my opinion, Dolby Atmos nails that.
However, the latency and responsiveness of Dolby Atmos are mediocre at best. Because of that, Dolby Atmos is not worth it for Esports and multiplayer games.
Dolby Atmos is worth it when it comes to story-driven games where immersion matters most. However, I would suggest against going for Dolby Atmos for esports as well as multiplayer gaming as a whole.
Dolby Atmos for Music
Dolby Atmos is not worth it for music, primarily because of how inconvenient and expensive it is to set up.
Dolby Atmos offers a lot of features for surround sounds. However, it offers little to no improvement in the sound quality itself. However, there is some improvement in the audio placement because of how well the spatial sounds are implemented.
In my opinion, that improvement is not worth the money you’re going to have to spend on the setup. Because as mentioned in the table, you’re going to have to spend anywhere from around $300 to $5000.
However, If you’re willing to pay a pretty penny for some fancy 8D music where the music moves around your head, then Dolby Atmos is the stuff for you.
The story is different if you’re considering cinemas. I’ll talk about the cinemas in the next section.
Is Dolby Cinema Worth it?
Yes, Dolby Cinema is worth it. It offers high contrast, vivid details through Dolby Vision, and immersive spatial audio through Dolby Atmos. In addition to that, luxurious seating arrangements add to the experience.
Dolby Cinema is not for consumer purposes but for commercial purposes. To be more specific, Dolby Cinema is about the cinema hall experience, and it provides a better experience in comparison to standard cinema halls for a little extra.
Getting more into details, Dolby Cinema utilizes Dolby Vision for better visual fidelity and Dolby Atmos for better audio quality.
Furthermore, to make up for a smoother experience, Dolby Cinema provides better seating arrangements. So Dolby Cinema takes your standard cinema experience and levels it up on every end.
That, on the other hand, comes with its own cost. Here’s a visual representation of the price difference between Standard Cinema vs. Dolby Cinema.
So, there’s a price spike when it comes to standard vs. Dolby on every end. However, even given the price difference, the experience was worth it.
Which Dolby To Go For?
You can go for both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Cinema according to the usage. In the cinemas, Dolby Cinema is worth it, and for games as well as movies at home, Dolby Atmos will do the job. But when it comes to movies, not going for any Dolby at all is the right choice.
This concludes the analysis of whether Dolby is worth it or not. But to make it even easier for you, here’s a comparison of Dolby vs. other relevant technologies and cinemas.
Phase 2: Comparison
Dolby Cinema wins against IMAX, whereas technically, DTS: X wins over Dolby Atmos. However, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to consumer end usage.
Here are details as to why I picked Dolby on every end despite DTS X having better technicalities and IMAX being cheaper.
Dolby Cinema vs IMAX
Dolby Cinema takes the crown when pitted against IMAX. That’s because of the higher aspect ratio, better seats, and better technology.
Here’s a table listing the relevant aspects of both Dolby Cinema and IMAX.
|Aspect Ratio||2.40:1||1.43:1 or 1.90:1|
|Seats||Reclining Seats||Steep Stadium Seats|
|Visuals Technology||Dolby Vision||Standard Cinemas|
|Audio Technology||Dolby Atmos||Standard Cinemas|
|Defining Feature||Spatial Audio and, High -resolution visuals||Impressively large screens|
As per the order, I’ll also provide a graphical representation to make it easier for you.
I have rated each feature out of 5 to make it easier for you to understand exactly which one is better, in my opinion.
Dolby and IMAX both offer an immersive cinema experience. However, there is a catch here. Because of its better technology, Dolby offers a better aspect ratio and audio and visuals. That gives it an edge over IMAX easily.
However, IMAX has a much larger screen to try and make up for the lack of innovation. In my experience, that did not work out. Dolby had better immersion and a comfortable overall experience due to the seats.
In conclusion, Dolby is better than IMAX overall. But if you want the big screen experience no matter what, then you can go for IMAX.
Dolby Atmos vs DTS: X
DTS: X has an advantage over Dolby Atmos from a technical perspective. However, Dolby Atmos takes an edge over DTS X in availability and immersion.
Here’s a table comparing the differences between the two at a glance.
|Aspect||Dolby Atmos||DTS: X|
|Bitrate||384 Kbits and 768 Kbits||642 Kbits and 1.5 Mbits|
|Medium||DVD, Bluray, Cinemas||DVD, Bluray, Cinemas|
|Defining Feature||Superior Spatial Audio, Wide availability||Superior Audio Fidelity and Convenience|
That translates to real-world performance in many different ways. I’ve done my fair share of research on relevant audio technologies like Dolby Atmos, DTS X, and PCM.
Here’s how I would rate my experience with Dolby Atmos and DTS: X-
I’ll interpret the graph briefly- Dolby Atmos boasts a wide availability across all platforms, and it gives better immersion thanks to the higher number of speakers. On the other hand, DTS: X boasts superior audio quality and a more straightforward setup.
When it comes to availability, Dolby Atmos is available on almost every platform and every device. That makes it more accessible than DTS: X, as DTS: X has limited supporting platforms.
So, for home theater enthusiasts, you can easily set Dolby Atmos up for your home theaters using soundbars that support both Dolby Atmos and DTS: X.
I used the Polk Audio Signa S4 for quite a while and Dolby Atmos was well implemented in this one and that too at around only $350. Furthermore, this will also give you access to DTS X if you feel like it.
If your budget is lower than that, another cheaper soundbar I used is this Vizio Home Theater soundbar. This one does not offer Dolby Atmos but only has DTS: X at around $150.
On the other hand, for the best experience with Dolby Atmos, you might want to pair the soundbars with some good Atmos speakers like the Klipsch R-625A. This is a fairly safe option for Dolby Atmos speakers at a reasonable price of around $600.
So, Dolby Atmos wins over DTS: X overall due to higher availability and deeper immersion.
Final Phase: Decision Making
Dolby is worth it in cinemas, music, and sometimes in gaming. You may go for DTS: X to listen to music if audio quality is all that matters to you.
Specifically, Dolby Cinema enhances the cinema experience, where Dolby Vision and Atmos work in tandem with reclining seats. Moreover, Dolby Atmos improves gaming, home theater experience, and immersion thanks to its spatial audio.
So, Dolby is worth it for Cinemagoers, Audiophiles, Home theater enthusiasts, and gamers.
When was Dolby Cinema first released?
The first Dolby Cinema was opened on 18 December 2014 in the Netherlands. The first Cinema implemented was JT (Now Vue) Bioscopen Cinema in Eindhoven, Netherlands. It was followed by Cinesa La Maquinista in Barcelona, Spain.
Is Dolby Easy to Set Up?
Dolby is not easy to set up. Dolby Atmos places importance on the placement of speakers. To be more specific, the height is essential for Dolby Atmos. That makes it harder to set up compared to its peers.
Is Dolby Future Proof?
Yes, Dolby is future-proof if you implement Dolby Atmos in your setup. Dolby Atmos is the new audio technology innovated by Dolby. It is now widely implemented in Dolby Cinema as well as many soundbars. Hence, at least for a long time, you will not need to replace Dolby Atmos.
I hope your confusion is cleared up. By now, you should be able to answer the question, is Dolby Worth it? So, what about it? Did you go for a Dolby in your setup or Dolby Cinema? Let me know in the comments below.
Till then, so long!