The new Apple TV with 4K doesn’t support the Dolby Atmos surround sound format — yet. However, Apple tells The Verge that the lack of Atmos isn’t a hardware limitation, and that support is on the roadmap. I expect we’ll see it in an upcoming tvOS upgrade.
Dolby Atmos is an audio format for creating and playing back multichannel movie soundtracks. It was developed to give movie sound a more three-dimensional effect. Traditional 5.1- and 7.1-channel surround setups deliver captivating sound using speakers placed all around your room. Dolby Atmos takes this to another level with speakers to create a "height" layer of sound above the listener.
This overhead sound extends the height of your system's soundstage while also allowing for some very cool effects. Imagine hearing an airplane flying over your head – not just in front of and behind you. With a Dolby Atmos setup, your ears can purportedly locate sounds with pinpoint accuracy, for a more realistic and enveloping listening experience to complement the visual excitement on your TV.
In conventional surround sound setups, you'll add two or more speakers to project sound from above the listening positions. If you prefer a streamlined approach, check out sound bars with built-in Dolby Atmos processing.
The Apple TV 4K starts at $179 for 32GB or $199 for 64GB, joining Apple TV (4th generation) 32GB at $149, available from Apple.com and Apple Stores, as well as through select Apple Authorized Resellers and carriers. Customers were able to order both Apple TV 4K models on Sept.15 with availability beginning Friday, Sept. 22.