Can I Use Dipole Speakers as Atmos Height Speakers?

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Q I currently use dipole speakers as the side surrounds in a 7.1-channel configuration. My plan is to upgrade to an Atmos setup and replace the side surround speakers with direct-radiating models. Here’s my question: Could I use my existing dipole surrounds as Atmos height speakers? —Nick Ward / via e-mail

A This question pops up regularly as more home theaterphiles upgrade their systems for Dolby Atmos. The same answer I’ve offered in the past still stands: no.

Why? Because Dolby recommends using direct-radiating speakers at all positions, surround and ceiling height locations included, for Atmos setups. Object-based Atmos soundtracks require individually addressable point sources to deliver the immersive experience the format was designed for. That task is best handled by direct-radiating speakers, which have a focused, precise sound.

Dipole surround speakers, in contrast, create a diffuse soundfield that’s meant to mimic the multi-speaker arrays used in older, pre-Atmos theaters. In other words, while they’re arguably still useable in channel-based speaker configurations, dipole surrounds are a relic in the new object-based audio world.

dmineard's picture

I have had a Definitive Technology system for years and the dipole are great for the surrounds let alone the BP2000 front towers.

3 years ago they built a new Marcus theater 2 miles from where I live and the Dolby Atmos is so good. Then it hit me, that if I was going to upgrade at home my surrounds would have to go - object based sound needs a narrow field.

Dipole speakers are great in 5.1 and 7.2 systems so there still will be a demand for those individuals that can cut holes in their ceiling.

After 15 years I just shifted to a new speaker system with no dipole rears. If I could only sell my top of the line Def Tech. (:-<)

freality's picture

No disrespect, but Al Griffin had it wrong then, and he has it wrong now. Dolby Atmos height channels at home are meant to simulate an array of many speakers above you (like in commercial theaters) without hot-spotting. As such, Dolby recommends your height speakers have a wide dispersion. Most direct-radiating speakers are narrowly dispersed (except for something like the KEF Uni-Qs). Dipole (and bipole) by nature have wide dispersion (literally two tweeters shooting either out-of or in-phase sound in opposite directions). So, depending on your ceiling height, a dipole speaker would most likely work better than direct-fire. A good example is Atlantic Technology's IC-6 OBA, which is specifically designed for Object Based Applications and are...wait for it...dipole. Do your research, Al!