Can I Use My In-Ceiling Speakers For Dolby Atmos?

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Q I have a 7.1-channel in-ceiling speaker system in my home theater. How can I adapt this for a Dolby Atmos configuration? My plan is to add a standard 5.1 channel speaker system and use the in-ceiling speakers for the height effects.—Paul Wright

A A good question—one I’m sure other people with in-ceiling surround speaker systems will be pondering as they consider upgrading for Dolby Atmos.

Atmos setups require either two or more in- or on-ceiling speakers, or “Atmos-enabled” speakers designed to bounce sound off the ceiling of the room to deliver the height effects in Dolby Atmos soundtracks. Since you already have multiple in-ceiling speakers installed, it should be possible to adapt your current system for at least a 5.1.4 Atmos setup. Rewire both your Front in-ceiling speakers and Back Surround in-ceiling speakers; these will now serve as Atmos Height speakers. Next, disconnect your current Side Surround and Center in-ceiling speakers—they are no longer needed since your new 5.1 speaker rig will take care of the primary surround-sound duties.

If you do decide to pursue the 5.1.4 Atmos setup described above, any new AV receiver you buy should provide connections for both front and back height speakers. FYI, Atmos home setups allow for as many as 24 speakers on the floor and 10 overhead speakers, but current Atmos-enabled receivers don’t yet support such elaborate configurations.

kevon27's picture

What if you had already invested in a 11.1 setup for say DTS NeoX. (with front height and wide channels). Can you just add two more speakers in the back for rear height and be done?

Even better.. Yamaha's customer surround system is closer to Atmos setup wise - front height and rear height. So all someone would need is to upgrade their av/pre-pro?

Am I wrong?

etrochez's picture

It's kind of tricky to convert current setups to Armos. Atmos requires the ceiling speakers to be placed 65 degrees in front (for the front height) and 65 degrees on the back (for the back height) of the listener position for 5.1.4 setups. Also, the ceiling speakers should be parallel to the front left and right speakers. Meaning that if your front speakers are 7 feet apart from each other, the in-ceiling speakers should be the same distance from each other.

Fgiddens's picture

I like Kevon27 have a Yamaha AV. RX-A3010 and enjoy front R&L and
rear R&L presensence speakers. Installed on walls, if I had an adjustable mount that could rotate the speakers to approximate the
65 degrees, YPAO would need to make two runs. one - normale two-ATMOS. Heck the mounts could be manual or remote controlled.
This way current media and new ATMOS media would be usable. I really enjoy trying different DSP modes to get a new sound.