The best Dolby Atmos speakers are the latest evolution in multi-channel audio, taking us beyond the limits of conventional surround sound systems.
Dolby Atmos is a premium and immersive audio format that works by adding height to the otherwise-flat soundstage of both cinema and home cinema audio set-ups.
But that's not all. As well as adding height to the audio mix, Dolby Atmos introduces the concept of object-based audio – the idea that elements of a film's soundtrack (like a helicopter passing overhead) can exist as their own individual item in the audio, rather than as part of a channel mix, allowing them to be placed and moved around a scene in a way that more naturally mimics real life.
Dolby Atmos technology can be found in everything from expensive high-end surround sound systems to hardworking smart speakers. Dolby Atmos has even been brought to the (now discontinued( Apple HomePod smart speaker – although you will need to use two in a stereo pair for this to work.
If that sounds good to you, read on for the best Dolby Atmos speakers you can buy right now.
According to the brand, the Bluesound Pulse Soundbar+ "is to audio what 8K is to video", with 120W of power and a wealth of connectivity options. Lofty claims indeed.]
- Don't need Dolby Atmos? See our list of the best soundbars with or without
Our top picks
The best Dolby Atmos speakers
Let’s be honest. Accommodating eight or more loudspeakers in a living room is never going to be easy. However, French specialist Focal has produced a lifestyle Atmos sound system that could win over the most reluctant technophobe.
The Sib Evo 5.1.2 package combines two compact Sib Evo Dolby Atmos speakers to handle left, right and height channels, with a slim Cub Evo subwoofer and three smaller Sib Evo satellites, for centre and rear surround.
The main Sib Evo speakers cleverly incorporate a 76mm full-range up-firer for Atmos audio in addition to front-firing speaker drivers. Finished in piano gloss black, the whole set looks positively premium.
While the cosmetic design merits plaudits, the speaker cable provision is uninspiring. The rear of the enclosure has a locking terminal, but this only accepts low grade bell wire.
For the best results, it’s advisable to sit within 2m of the upfiring fronts, as this brings you within range of their reflected audio.
Bigger rooms might require a 5.1.4 Atmos configuration. While you can replace the rear satellite speakers with Dolby enabled models, they cost quite a lot per pair, so it’s not an upgrade path many will feel inclined to take.
Despite its compact size, this Focal system has range and attack. When the War Boys first roar overhead during the opening of Mad Max Fury Road, there’s a real sense of dynamic attack and spatial movement.
All the satellites share the same midrange driver and soft dome tweeter, which aids timbre matching.
The subwoofer integration is spectacularly good, crossing over effortlessly with the front soundstage at 100Hz. The sub may not do subterranean bass, but it’s gutsy thanks to a downward firing 209mm woofer and 200W onboard amplification. The system’s slam to footprint ratio is impressive.
While the Focal system can be used for two channel music, it’s really not an audiophile proposition. Stereo music can sound a bit pointy.
That said, if you want a good looking Dolby Atmos speaker package to partner a mid-range AV receiver, this Focal speaker package is definitely one to short list. And when it comes to lifestyle Atmos speaker packages, it’s a very short list indeed.
Sonos has a new Dolby Atmos surround sound solution and it’s contained entirely in a single soundbar it calls Arc.
The Sonos Arc draws on Dolby’s latest TrueHD and Dolby Digital Plus sound codecs to deliver the best quality lossless audio found on cutting edge Blu-ray disks and some of the leading streaming services. It then enhances the 3D soundscape using Dolby Atmos object tracks to bounce certain sounds off the walls around you so they feel like they’re coming at you from all angles.
While all this might sound complicated, the Sonos Arc setup couldn’t be simpler, involving just a couple of steps on the smartphone app. The minimalist cable connections and all-in-one system construction add to this no-fuss feeling and streamlined aesthetic – making it the best Dolby Atmos soundbar you can buy in 2021.
Read more: Sonos Arc review
One of the best soundbars that we have heard to date, the Samsung HW-N950 is the only soundbar that delivers a 7.1.4-channel immersive audio experience. The use of wireless rear speakers and a subwoofer, make the N950 easy to install and setup. It also means that the combination of all these speakers is able to deliver object-based audio as the content creators intended, without resorting to psychoacoustic trickery.
The soundbar, speakers and subwoofer are all well-designed and extremely well-made, while the system as a whole offers plenty of useful features. The N950 detected and decoded both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X without any issues, so if you’re a fan of movies and full, immersive sound then this is definitely the soundbar for you. It was equally as effective with regular soundtracks, not to mention music via both WiFi and Bluetooth.
Read the full review: Samsung HW-N950 Soundbar review
Not everyone planning a Dolby Atmos upgrade wants to junk their current sound system. If you have an existing multichannel layout, and simply want to add Dolby Atmos, then drafting in a pair (or quartet) of Dolby Enabled upfiring speakers will do the job.
But should you buy something cheap like the Onkyo SKH-410s, or invest in something more substantial? Canadian brand PSB offers a good deal more, for only a moderate price increase, with the Imagine XA.
These speakers, with their black ash cabinet and matching fabric grille, are a cosmetic match for the brand’s XT2, XT and XB floorstanders, but can be used with any brand. Ideally they should be located around a metre off the floor. An integrated wall-mounting bracket is provided if you don’t have floorstanders/stands/shelves (delete as appropriate) to accommodate them.
The Imagine XA speakers feature a ferrofluid-cooled titanium dome tweeter and clay-filled polypropylene cone woofer. A pair of chunky speaker terminals accept decent cable widths. They look far more expensive than they actually are, and they sound it too.
Highs are smooth and detailed, and the speaker easily creates a convinced Dolby Atmos canopy. The expanded soundstage becomes a tangible extension to the listening room.
They have some bass output too, but expend most of their energy at 100Hz and above. We’d have no qualms about partnering them with premium floorstanders or bookshelf speakers, although we’d recommend asking a dealer for a trial first, just to check they’re a good timbre match with your existing speakers.
The KEF R50 represent the premium end of the Dolby-Enabled speaker market. The high gloss speakers are part of KEF’s R Series line, and feature the same Uni-Q point source driver array.
A 25mm aluminium vented-tweeter and ‘tangerine waveguide’ sits at the centre of a rigid 130mm bass/mid driver, encircled by a distinctive Z-flex surround to minimise distortion.
If you want the full-fat KEF 5.1.2 Atmos experience, partner the R50s with a pair of R500 floorstanders, matching R200c centre channel, R100 bookshelves and the compact R400b subwoofer.
This ensemble sounds sensational. Alternatively, you can use them to augment an existing speaker system.
A full-range design, the R50 is capable of superb clarity and depth, with the Dolby Atmos soundstage spacious and naturalistic. They’re also extremely effective when it comes to dispersion.
While some Atmos speakers have a specific ceiling bounce, which creates a sonic sweet spot, the R50s deliver an excellent sense of height up to 3.5m away. Expensive certainly, but sensationally good.
The Samsung HW-Q90R was the brand's all-singing, all-dancing flagship soundbar for 2019 – and in 2021, it has only been pipped by the Sonos Arc for the best soundbar you can buy because it's a little pricier.
It not only supports object-based audio in the shape of both Dolby Atmos and DTS:X, it was also the only soundbar from 2019 to achieve this with actual rear speakers and four upward-firing drivers.
Few soundbars come so close to producing the full Dolby Atmos and DTS:X experience, and thanks to tuning from Harman Kardon the HW-Q90 even sounds good with music. A decent set of features and fully-specified HDMI connections complete a nearly flawless package... as long as you can afford it, this is the best soundbar you can buy.
Read more: Samsung HW-Q90R Soundbar review
Given that rival Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbars typically sell for twice the price, Sony’s HT-X8500 warrants an easy recommendation – and it's the best soundbar with Dolby Atmos that won't break the bank. Cost-cutting can be attributed to connectivity and features but what’s genuinely confounding is just how great the HT-X8500 sounds.
The key to the HT-X8500’s gutsy performance is Sony’s proprietary Vertical Sound Engine - working with Dolby Atmos and DTS:X content, it creates a convincing illusion of wraparound sound that allow Dolby Atmos movies to play with a clear sense of expanded height and width.
The build quality and design of the soundbar is exceptional, and its general audio performance impresses with its clarity and spatial presentation.
Overall, if you want a home theatre sound system that won’t dent your budget, this is the best soundbar for you.
Read more: Sony HT-X8500 Soundbar review
[Update: Sony has released the follow up to the HT-X8500; the Sony HT-G700 comes with virtual Dolby Atmos and a dedicated center speaker to enhance dialogue.]
The Amazon Echo Studio is an impressive offering - a smart-speaker and Dolby Atmos immersive sound home cinema unit, all in one tidy package. Some of its experiments with upmixing stereo sources can sound a bit confused, but it's otherwise a very powerful, feature-rich smart speaker – especially considering the price.
It's a good option for anyone who's low on space and can't stretch to an upfiring soundbar or multi-speaker setup, while Alexa smarts means that it can act as the center of your smart home, as well as your music player.
If you're upgrading from the simple speakers built into your TV, or a lowly stereo soundbar, it's a fantastic and simple upgrade to make to your home cinema system. You'll get a cracking, resonant bass response, excellent volume and far more depth than a comparably-priced soundbar can offer.
As ever with virtualized surround sound, it's not as impactful as having discrete physical speaker channels above and behind you, hooked up to an AV receiver. But that's a huge expense, and not practical for all living room arrangements, making the powerful Echo Studio an impressive value option.
Read the full review: Amazon Echo Studio
If a standalone Dolby Atmos AV receiver and speaker system doesn’t float your boat, how about this all-in-one, attractive Dolby Atmos soundbar?
It may look like a sub and soundbar twin-set, but Sony describes the HT-ST5000 as a 7.1.2 proposition. It has High-Res Audio compatible, and has Wi-Fi (with NFC), Bluetooth and Chromecast Built-in.
Build quality and design are outstanding. The bar comes with a fabric cover, which can be removed if you want to gawp at the drivers in all their glory.
Left and right are two matching coaxial speakers with gold-rimmed, high frequency tweeters, while a step-down coaxial flanked by mid-range quartet takes centrestage. On top, behind fixed metal grilles, are two upfiring Dolby-enabled drivers.
Connections include four HDMIs, all HDCP 2.2 4K ready. There’s also an optical digital audio connection, stereo minijack, and USB port.
This soundbar is particularly good at creating a wide, high soundstage. It really evokes a sense of cinematic scale with high-octane Atmos actioners like John Wick 2.
It’s debatable just how effective it is at producing a convincing overhead sound channel though. Often it seemed as if the Atmos effects were locked to the space around the TV.
It certainly helps to sit closer to the bar than further away. Indeed, if you’re more than 1.5m you probably won’t get any sense of Atmos height at all.
That said, this soundbar is a lot of fun. The wireless subwoofer has real depth, easily reaching down below 50Hz. Action movies really slam.
It also proves good as a High-Res Audio solution; it’s fully compatible with 24-bit FLAC files and DSD. Overall, this is a fine sounding soundbar, and worth investigating if you can weather the price tag.
Read the full review: Sony HT-ST5000
The Apple HomePod finally entered the smart speaker battle for your bookshelf in early 2018, and it's still making waves today, having added Dolby Atmos support in 2020.
It's always debatable whether a standalone speaker without upfiring drivers can truly deliver Dolby Atmos, but we were impressed by how immersive the audio sounded when we tested our HomePod following the update.
It's also great for listening to music, with a powerful sound that can easily fill a room – and built-in Siri smarts means it can control your smart home devices, too (though you'll find it less comprehensive than the Echo Studio in this department).
Read more: Apple HomePod review
[Update: Having first gone on sale at the start of 2018, the Apple HomePod smart speaker is now being discontinued, with Apple turning all of its attention to the smaller (and cheaper) HomePod Mini instead.
After the space gray HomePod was noted to be out of stock in the US, Apple confirmed to TechCrunch that the model was being discontinued. Once stocks have been exhausted, that will be that for the original Siri-controlled speaker – for now, you may still be able to find it.]
Dolby Atmos explained
Dolby Atmos explained
In simplest terms, you need a source and a speaker.
Sources of Dolby Atmos include game consoles (Xbox One, Xbox One S, Xbox One X), some TVs (LG OLED, VIZIO M-, P-, R-Series), streaming devices (Apple TV 4K, Google Chromecast Ultra) and 4K Blu-ray Players.
Image credit: Dolby
Dolby Atmos is often referred to as an immersive sound system, or 3D audio, because it uses inventive 'sonic steerage' to create a wonderfully realistic soundstage.
But it doesn’t always do this by engulfing you with sound. It can be surprisingly subtle. Consider the opening sequence in Transformers: Age of Extinction: When T.J Miller throws a football before the discovery of the Optimus Prime truck, it bounces into the rear right channel of a traditional surround mix.
However in Dolby Atmos, the ball takes a different trajectory. It’s thrown higher and sounds less like a panning effect, meaning the result is far more convincing. Of course Atmos does the big stuff (explosions, thunder, rain) really well, too.
Dolby Atmos is a common sound format on Blu-ray discs, but can also be found on Sky 4K movie channel offerings as well as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.
However, the 3D audio format isn’t just about film and TV soundtracks, as both BT and Sky use Dolby Atmos for sports events. It’s ideal for conveying stadium ambiance (as TechRadar can attest when attending one of the early showings of a game from BT Sport broadcast in a bar), helping to bring you closer to the pitch.
There are even Dolby Atmos mixes of classic albums. REM has remixed Automatic for the People in the format and the 50th anniversary of The Beatles’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club band also enjoyed an Atmos makeover.
Dolby Atmos has also been drawn into the Pure Audio Blu-ray spec. The London Symphony Orchestra recording of Asyla, Tevot & Polaris, conducted by Thomas Adès is a live recording that puts you in the centre of the Barbican Hall.
On top of that, the sound system is also a routine element on premium Xbox One games too, showing that the new format is gaining traction as a new method of reproducing sound.
With either two height speakers or four in a home set up, and coupled to a surround layout comprising five, seven or nine channels, the only limiting factor is your amplifier – the more channels to be outputted, the beefier your amp is going to need to be.
The most common home cinema configuration for Dolby Atmos speakers is 5.1.2 (that’s the regular 5.1 configuration with two height channels), or 5.1.4 (the same, but with four height channels).
This extra height layer of sound is most commonly delivered via dedicated upfiring speakers (although if you have in-ceiling speakers, they’ll work too), if you’re using a Dolby Atmos-enabled AV receiver. Alternatively you can opt for an all-in-one Dolby Atmos soundbar, which is the ideal solution for the plug-and-play crowd.