Dolby® Atmos® Specifications

Issue 2

. . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Frequency Response: . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Surround Sound Frequency Response . . . . . . . 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Frequency Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Side and Rear Surround Horizontal Aiming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Screen Subwoofer . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. . . . . . . . . . . . 4. 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Number of Screen Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Frequency Range . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .8 Side Surround Spacing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Aiming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4 Surround Array Sound Pressure Level . . 5. . .3 Surround Subwoofer Sound Pressure Level (Compared to Center Loudspeakers) . . . . .1 Number of Surround Subwoofers . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Number of Side and Top Surround Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . .1 Introduction . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . .7 Side Surround Elevation . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3 Surround Loudspeaker Sound Pressure Level . . . . . . . 4. . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . . .9 Top Surround Position . . . . 4. . 2. . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 Surround Subwoofer Frequency Response . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. .10 Rear Surround Spacing . . . . . . . . . .2 Sound Pressure Level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Side and Rear Surround Elevation Aiming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5. 2 Screen Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Position . . . . . . . 2. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Surround Subwoofers .14 Surround Loudspeaker Coverage Angles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Estimating Loudspeaker Output .13 Top Surround Aiming . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1 Sound Pressure Level (Compared to Center Loudspeaker) . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 Rear Surround Elevation . . . 1 1 1 1 2 2 2 3 3 3 4 4 4 4 5 6 6 6 6 7 7 8 9 9 10 11 12 13 13 13 13 13 14 . . .2 Number of Rear Surround Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2. 4 Surround Loudspeakers . . . . . . . . . . .4 Surround Subwoofer Placement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

and ultra high-frequency sections. distribution. The introduction of a new audio format allows for changes in the design of sound systems without breaking compatibility with existing practices. and installation for dubbing theaters and cinemas. 2 Screen Loudspeakers Dolby Atmos does not place new demands on the screen loudspeakers. the following specifications are provided. 101 dB for the middle-frequency and high-frequency sections • Three-way/triamplifier: 105 dB. exceeding the minimum performance requirements can add value to system performance. 2. respectively When determining the SPL capability of a screen loudspeaker system or the low-frequency component. including equipment performance. layout. 101 dB. To ensure this performance. This document replaces the previously issued Dolby Atmos Technical Guidelines document. In many cases. 2. with a response that conforms to ISO 2969:1987/SMPTE ST 202:2010 specifications. twice the required continuous power) to drive each element. and high-frequency sections.Dolby Atmos Specifications 1 Introduction Dolby® Atmos® achieves unprecedented levels of audience immersion and engagement by offering powerful new authoring tools to mixers. Its new cinema processor features a flexible rendering engine that optimizes the audio quality and surround effects of the Dolby Atmos soundtrack to the loudspeaker layout and characteristics of each room. If the system specifications are not known or not provided by the manufacturer. use half-space sensitivity if the loudspeaker is mounted in a baffle wall. and exhibition workflows.1 Number of Screen Loudspeakers A minimum of three screen loudspeakers is required.2 Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB Each screen loudspeaker system and associated amplifiers must have a maximum output capability of 105 dB continuous sound pressure level (SPL) at the reference listening position. high-frequency. 101 dB. Dolby has revisited critical areas of soundtrack reproduction. 98 dB for the low-frequency. The loudspeakers must be capable of full dynamic range digital cinema content playback through a cinema screen. 92 dB for the low-frequency. We recommend an amplifier with 3 dB of headroom (that is. Existing best practice still applies. respectively • Four-way/quad amplifier: 105 dB. 1 . Loudspeaker capability must be determined as described in Section 6. we recommend the addition of left center and right center loudspeakers. middle-frequency. For a screen wider than 12 meters (approximately 40 feet). Dolby Atmos has been designed from the ground up to maintain backward compatibility and minimize the impact on production. 98 dB. This specification provides the recommended and minimum performance requirements for Dolby Atmos installations. middle-frequency. use the following guidelines for SPL at the reference listening position to assess each component: • Two-way/biamplifier: 105 dB for the low-frequency section. In addition.

place the left and right screen loudspeakers just inside the edge of the image.4 Frequency Response: 80 Hz to 16 kHz. regardless of the position of the screen within an auditorium. In auditoriums with a fixed image height.5 Position Always place the center loudspeaker at the screen center line.39:1 (scope) images. respectively. as shown in the following figure. In auditoriums with a fixed image width and top moving masking. position the left and right screen loudspeakers midway between the 1. ±3 dB 2. with the acoustic center midway between the two-thirds image height for the flat and scope images. 2 . place the left center and right center loudspeakers midway between the center loudspeaker and the left and right loudspeakers.2.3 Frequency Range: 40 Hz to 16 kHz. If installed. +3/–6 dB 2. Place the left and right loudspeakers equidistant from the center loudspeaker.85:1 (flat) and 2. with the acoustic center placed at approximately two-thirds of the screen height. as shown in the following figure. Place all screen loudspeakers vertically at the same height.

When compared with a full-range screen channel.1 Sound Pressure Level: +10 dB (Compared to Center Loudspeaker) The Low-Frequency Effects channel subwoofer must have a flat response over the range of 31. as shown in the following figure.6 Aiming Rotate the screen loudspeakers horizontally so that the axis of the loudspeaker is oriented at a point two-thirds of the distance to the back of the auditorium. The down angle should aim the axis at a point two-thirds of the room length in stadium seating auditoriums.5 to 120 Hz. 3 Screen Subwoofer 3.2. keeping the low-frequency section flush with the wall. 3 . the subwoofer channel must be capable of producing +10 dB of in-band gain (for example. along the screen center line. as viewed on a real-time analyzer). tilt the screen speaker horns downward to optimize coverage over the seating area. as shown in the following figure. Only the horns should be rotated horizontally for loudspeakers mounted in a baffle wall. For vertical aiming.

ceiling array. contact your Dolby technical representative for design assistance.8 18.2 Frequency Response: 31.1 Number of Side and Top Surround Loudspeakers The following figure indicates the recommended number of loudspeakers for each side wall and each side of the ceiling.9 21. closely clustering the cabinets can increase the efficiency through mutual coupling.3 22.9 21.7 30 9.5–120 Hz.4 22. and rear wall.3. 65 60 4 29. such as uniformly spacing multiple cabinets along the front wall to improve coverage. as a function of room length and width (shown in feet and meters). ±3 dB 3.3 16.9 24.1 25 7.1 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 Length () 4 Width (m) 70 7.7 9.7 12. If your room falls outside the dimensions available in the charts.6 75 6.2 13.3 5 6 7 55 Width () 19.2 10.8 15. Meters are in blue text. Other configurations are also acceptable.1 3 50 45 19.3 Position When multiple screen subwoofers are used. CL (Room centerline) Screen Subwoofers (LFE) 4 Surround Loudspeakers The figures in this section indicate the recommended number of surround loudspeakers and the minimum number of surround loudspeakers for each side wall.2 13.6 20 6.7 40 12. it should be placed near screen center. but asymmetrically with respect to the center of the room to minimize stimulation of standing waves (room modes).3 9 10 1 0 11 11 12 16.1 Length (m) . The number of loudspeakers is a function of the room length and width.0 27. If a single cabinet or cluster is used. as shown in the following figure.2 35 10. 4.8 8 18.8 15.4 25.

7 30 9.8 15.3 16 15 14 13 12 11 10 9 8 19.2 10. as a function of room length and width (shown in feet and meters).1 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 Length () 4.1 21.8 15.8 15.9 21.6 75 6. Meters are in blue text.3 16.7 7 9.2 13.8 18.9 24.7 9.The following figure indicates the minimum number of loudspeakers required for each side wall and each side of the ceiling.9 21.8 18.2 10.1 6 5 20 7.3 19.2 10.8 8 45 40 35 9 15.6 4 6.1 22.6 75 6.0 27.3 16.3 19.7 12.6 20 6.7 12.2 13.1 25 7.4 25. 29.4 25.1 Length (m) 12.3 16.4 22.0 27.1 Length (m) .7 12. 65 60 Width () 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 29.3 3 65 22.4 22.8 4 60 5 55 Width () 21.2 10 10 11 1 1 12 13. as a function of room length and width (shown in feet and meters).8 18. Meters are in blue text.3 7 16.2 13.9 6 50 18.2 Number of Rear Surround Loudspeakers The following figure indicates the recommended number of loudspeakers for the rear wall.1 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 Length () 5 Width (m) 70 7.2 10.9 24.7 Width (m) 70 7.9 19.7 9.

7 9. To meet this requirement for surround arrays with fewer than four loudspeakers. damage.4 22.3 Surround Loudspeaker Sound Pressure Level: 99 dB Each loudspeaker and associated amplifier must have a maximum output capability of 99 dB continuous SPL at the reference listening position.7 Width (m) 70 7.4 Surround Array Sound Pressure Level: 105 dB Each surround array and the associated amplifiers must be able to produce 105 dB continuous SPL at the reference listening position.9 21.3 19. If bass management is used.8 18.9 21.2 6 10. but must not be higher than 100 Hz.0 27. 4. to prevent tampering. To meet this specification standard. cinema surround loudspeakers with limited bass response require bass management. Meters are in blue text. as described in Section 6. 4. 6 .9 24. each loudspeaker must be able to produce more than 99 dB continuous SPL. We recommend an amplifier with 3 dB of headroom (that is.6 Rear Surround Elevation The rear surround loudspeakers must be positioned at a uniform height.8 15.5 Surround Sound Frequency Response: 40 Hz to 16 kHz. One-quarter room width is a good guideline.8 15.4 25. The crossover frequency should be set based on the capabilities of the surround loudspeakers. or theft.1 7.6 4 6. twice the required continuous power).The following figure indicates the minimum number of loudspeakers required for the rear wall. 4.3 9 8 7 16. 65 60 Width () 55 50 45 40 35 30 25 20 29.2 13.3 16.7 5 9.6 75 6.1 12 11 10 22.2 10.7 12.1 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 55 60 65 70 75 80 85 90 95 Length () 4. where possible.2 13.3 19. +3/–6 dB Dolby Atmos auditoriums must support playback of full-range surround signals. as a function of room length and width (shown in feet and meters). The position should be sufficiently high to maintain good coverage across the seating area according to the directivity of the loudspeaker and be out of the reach of patrons. the surround loudspeakers frequency response (±3 dB) must extend to 90 Hz or lower. Loudspeaker capability must be determined.8 18.1 Length (m) 12.

The distance between the front-most loudspeaker and the screen must be between 50 and 100% of the interspeaker spacing. must be between the value of L ÷ N and the value of L ÷ (N + 1). with the left loudspeaker and right loudspeaker at the same distance from the front wall. the distance between the rear-most loudspeaker and the rear wall must be between 50 and 100% of the interspeaker spacing.8 Side Surround Spacing Side surround loudspeakers must be placed as left/right pairs. the distance between the loudspeakers within a side or top surround array. as shown in the following figure. where L is the room length and N is the number of loudspeakers in the array. Likewise.4. 7 .7 Side Surround Elevation The elevation of the side surround loudspeakers should form a straight line from the acoustic center of the screen loudspeaker array to the rear surround loudspeakers. as shown in the following figure. The interspeaker spacing. 4.

if E is 20 degrees. (See the following figure. (See the following figure. For example. a point two-thirds of the distance to the rear wall of the auditorium in the middle of the seating area.) 8 . The top surround loudspeakers should typically be placed in line with the corresponding side surround loudspeaker pairs. The elevation angle of the corresponding top surround array should be greater than or equal to 45 degrees plus half of angle E. The top surround loudspeaker pairs must be placed symmetrically with respect to the screen center line. which is the minimum width. and must conform to the interspeaker rule described for the side surrounds.4.9 Top Surround Position Top surround loudspeakers must always be placed as left/right pairs.) The maximum width between top surround loudspeakers should be determined based on elevation angles as follows: Let E be the elevation angle of the nearest side surround loudspeaker measured from the reference position. then the elevation angle of the top surround array should be greater than or equal to 55 degrees. The top surround arrays should typically be placed in line with the left center and right center screen loudspeakers. with the left loudspeaker and right loudspeaker at the same distance from the front wall.

) 2/3 Screen to Booth Wall w/3 RLP w/3 d/3 d w/3 9 . (See the following figure.10 Rear Surround Spacing The rear surround interspeaker spacing. The remaining side and rear surround loudspeakers must be angled horizontally toward the nearest corner of the central listening area. must be between the value of W ÷ N and the value of W ÷ (N + 1). but not beyond the reference listening position. as follows: • Central listening area width is W ÷ 3 (one-third the room width). Avoid abrupt changes in horizontal aiming (≥30°) from loudspeaker to loudspeaker. 4.11 Side and Rear Surround Horizontal Aiming To determine the proper horizontal aiming for the side and rear surround loudspeakers. define a rectangle in the central listening area. The distance between the outside loudspeakers and the side walls must be between 50 and 100% of the interspeaker spacing. where W is the room width and N is the number of loudspeakers on the rear wall. ±10°. 0° from perpendicular). ±10°.4. • Central listening area is centered on the reference listening position. Side and rear surround loudspeakers adjacent to the central listening area must aim directly into the room (that is. Left/right loudspeaker pairs should have the same aiming. which is the distance between the loudspeakers on the rear wall. • Central listening area length is D ÷ 3 (one-third the distance between the first and last row).

the soundfield may benefit from individual aiming of the surround loudspeakers. The tilt of the side surround loudspeakers should not change abruptly (>10°) from speaker to speaker along the array. whereas the rear surrounds are tilted more downward. but not by more than half the loudspeaker vertical coverage angle. rear surround loudspeakers should have the same downward tilt. in a steeply raked theatre. based on the horizontal. Typically. For example. lateral aim of the particular loudspeaker.12 Side and Rear Surround Elevation Aiming Side and rear surround loudspeakers should be tilted vertically to orient the axis of each loudspeaker to the ear height of a seated listener in the farthest seat. 10 . Depending on the room geometry.4. the front-most side surrounds can be aimed in a nearly horizontal position. (See the following figures.) The loudspeaker can be aimed higher.

±10°.13 Top Surround Aiming The top surround loudspeakers must be angled laterally (across the width of the auditorium) to a position halfway between the lateral position of the top surround loudspeaker and the screen center line. • Abrupt changes in aiming (≥30 degrees) from loudspeaker to loudspeaker should be avoided.) Top surrounds should be angled longitudinally (along the length of the auditorium) in a manner similar to the angling of the side surrounds (taking 0° as aiming vertically downward). 11 .) • Loudspeakers in front of and behind the central listening area should aim toward the front and back of the central listening area. (See the following figure.4. respectively. they should be aimed at 0°. (That is. (See the following figure.) C LbA Note the following when aiming loudspeakers: • Loudspeakers over the central listening area should aim neither forward nor backward.

14.4.5 Coverage Angle. we recommend the following nominal surround loudspeaker coverage angles. 12 .14. ±10°. Side Surround Loudspeakers: 90° Each side surround loudspeaker that is adjacent to the listening area should have a horizontal coverage angle ≥90°. 4. Top Surround Loudspeaker: 100° The top surround loudspeakers directly above the listening area should have vertical and horizontal coverage angles ≥100°. A conical dispersion horn should have a coverage area ≥50°. we recommend a wider dispersion. Front Side Surround Loudspeakers: 60° Each front side surround loudspeaker that is forward of the listening area should have a horizontal coverage angle ≥60°. For best audience coverage.14. Front and Rear Top Surround Loudspeakers: 50° The front-most top surround loudspeakers (those in front of the first audience seats) and the rear-most top surround loudspeakers should have vertical and horizontal coverage angles ≥50°.1 Horizontal Coverage Angle.14.14. Use these guidelines to select the most appropriate loudspeaker model from the manufacturer’s line. 4. 4.14 Surround Loudspeaker Coverage Angles To provide uniform coverage across the listening area. Front Side Surround Loudspeakers: 40° Each front side surround loudspeaker that is forward of the listening area should have a vertical coverage angle ≥40°. ±10° Each side surround loudspeaker that is adjacent to the listening area should have a vertical coverage angle of 50°. 4. In all of the following cases.2 Vertical Coverage Angle.3 Horizontal Coverage Angle.6 Coverage Angle. Side Surround Loudspeaker: 50°.4 Vertical Coverage Angle. 4. 4.14. A conical dispersion horn should have a coverage area ≥100°. coverage angle refers to the nominal angle between the loudspeaker –6 dB points. >100°.

3 Surround Subwoofer Sound Pressure Level: 0 dB (Compared to Center Loudspeakers) The left surround subwoofers and right surround subwoofers—loudspeaker and amplifier—must be capable of producing the same in-band gain as a screen channel (for example. Surround loudspeakers with limited bass are acceptable if surround subwoofers and bass management are used. The distance from a surround subwoofer to the rear corner should be ≥1 meter. this is the most common approach. 5. The distance from each surround subwoofer to the nearest listening position should be greater than one-quarter the distance from the subwoofer to the reference listening position.4 Surround Subwoofer Placement The following guidelines pertain to the placement of surround subwoofers in auditoriums: • If a single left/right pair of surround subwoofers are used.1 Number of Surround Subwoofers At least two surround subwoofers are required if bass management is used. place the first pair near the back of the room. For a steeply inclined theatre (with rear seats near the ceiling). +3/–6 dB Each surround subwoofer (if bass management is used) must have a frequency response of 40–120 Hz. When using bass management. • Avoid placing subwoofers in the rear corner of the auditorium. the surround subwoofers must meet the requirements described in this section. additional subwoofer pairs should be used. For example. as viewed on a real-time analyzer).2 Surround Subwoofer Frequency Response: 40–120 Hz. For larger auditoriums (>500 seats). Placement high on the side walls or on the ceiling is best. place one pair on or near the rear wall. or ceiling. • If multiple pairs of surround subwoofers are used. rear wall. we recommend placing the subwoofers farther from the rear wall. or auditoriums with more than seven surround speakers on a side wall. • Avoid placing the subwoofers near any listening position. and distribute remaining pairs forward across the listening area. 5. and place the second pair half way between the first pair and the front of the listening area. the surround subwoofers should be placed wider than the top surround arrays.5 Surround Subwoofers Dolby Atmos auditoriums must support playback of full-range surround signals. locate the subwoofers in the back half of the auditorium along the side walls. For practical installations. The Dolby Atmos Cinema Processor CP850 supports bass management signal generation. • For rear wall or ceiling placement. 5. 5. +3/–6 dB. 13 . if two pairs are used.

6 Estimating Loudspeaker Output The SPL performance guidelines in this document are provided with respect to the reference listening position and are based on the capabilities and demands of a calibrated cinema auditorium. one can only estimate. D1 is one meter. SMPTE standards for level calibration and characteristic amplitude response. a point two-thirds toward the rear of the auditorium in the middle of the seating area. Add the values for distance attenuation and SPLmax to determine the level at the reference listening position. Many variables affect playback levels. compute it using the rated sensitivity of the loudspeaker (1 W at 1 m) and power handling (IEC noise. If SPLmax is not stated. as follows: SPLmax = sensitivity × 10 × log10(power handling) 2. Measure the distance in meters (D2) from the loudspeaker to the reference position. it is impossible to state with any certainty the loudspeaker performance requirements for achieving standard cinema levels in all cases. Determine the loudspeaker maximum continuous output SPL (SPLmax). including B-chain processing. with AES duration of two hours). and so on). This is often specified in the documentation provided by the loudspeaker manufacturer. and the room itself. 3. Using this distance information. 4. amplifier and loudspeaker capabilities. and distance attenuation is a negative number representing the level change (in decibels). To assist you in determining the required loudspeaker output capability. D2 is the distance measured in step 2. Existing loudspeaker and amplifier performance standards cannot account for the unique characteristics of each cinema auditorium (screen loss. As a result. calculate the sound pressure attenuation from the loudspeaker to the reference position. as follows: Distance attenuation = 20 × log10(D1 ÷ D2) In this equation. we recommend the following: 1. room equalization. Level at reference listening position = SPLmax + distance attenuation 14 .

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