Q. I’ve been thinking about getting a new go-to streaming device for my media room TV. I like the Apple TV, but was wondering if it has Dolby Atmos. If I connect it to my TV and sound system, will it have Dolby Atmos sound? — Carl, Raleigh, North Carolina.
Carl, the answer is maybe, but before I explain further, a little background about the Apple TV streaming device, and Dolby Atmos.
Apple offers the Apple TV 4K, a streaming box that can display 4K HDR programming from such apps as Netflix and Amazon Prime as well as select pay-per-view movies. In addition to 4K video, the Apple TV 4K is capable of playing sound in Dolby Atmos, a recent audio feature that can make it sound like the action is occurring around you, and even above you. Many audiophiles say Dolby Atmos adds a realism and excitement to their viewing experience that can not be matched.
However, before you order an Apple TV 4K, take note that your home entertainment system must be set up for Dolby Atmos. That means you will need:
* A television that supports Dolby Atmos audio and/or
* A sound bar or AV receiver that is compatible with Dolby Atmos.
If you have those, Apple says you still need to take two steps to ensure that you are receiving audio in Dolby Atmos:
1. Connect your Apple TV 4K directly to the HDMI input on your sound bar or AV receiver with an HDMI cable. (Most TVs don’t support Dolby Atmos pass-through to sound bars and receivers, Apple notes. In addition, it’s worth noting the Apple TV 4K uses a high bandwidth form of Dolby Atmos that doesn’t work over ARC, Audio Return Channel, connections.)
2. Connect one end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI output on your sound bar or AV receiver. Then, Apple says, plug the other end of the HDMI cable into the HDMI input of your TV.
To check to see if it’s working, go to Settings on your Apple TV 4K device; click Video and Audio and then Audio Format. Under Immersive Audio, you can check if the Dolby Atmos is on.
“If you don’t see Immersive Audio and Dolby Atmos as an option, you might need to change how your home entertainment system is set up,” Apple says at its web site.
Apple also says you can check if a show offers Dolby Atmos while watching it by swiping down on the Touch surface of your Apple TV remote. Then, under Info, look for the Dolby Atmos symbol.
Carl, hope that helps. Happy viewing, and listening!
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— Phillip Swann