It’s doubtful that we’ll see Atmos Dolby on a HomePod

Since Apple announced that the Apple TV 4K will support, perhaps with a software update. I wish that this were possible because, boy, those Atmos speaker systems are expensive, but it’s probably just a pipe dream.

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.

  Photo courtesy of TidBITS

Photo courtesy of TidBITS

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.

I’ve asked Apple about Dolby Atmos support on the HomePod, but haven’t yet received an answer. I’m dubious because the speaker isn’t designed as part of a home theater system.

Would it be even be technically possible or feasible? To be honest, I’m not sure. Some threads on the MacRumors forums gives different opinions.

On one hand, “Atmos works specifically with either in-ceiling speakers or speakers that have a specific design that will bounce sound off the ceiling to the listening position.”

On the other hand, “technically it would be quite possible that several HomePods recognize their relative position in space itself.” They can "measure" rooms, so they can also easily identify adjacent boxes. It remains to be seen where the limitations of AirPlay lie.

Of course, it’s possible that Apple may release future speaker products that will support Dolby Atmos. Meanwhile, if I get an answer from Apple, naturally I’ll share it with you.

HomePod.jpg