• English
  • Deutsch
  • Español
  • Français

Dolby Atmos

Are Dolby Atmos and Dolby AC-4 the same?

Dolby Atmos in broadcasting and beyond

Dolby Atmos is the immersive audio experience that has revolutionised cinema sound with an extra dimension that puts the audience inside the story. Now users can enjoy the same exciting experience in their living rooms. In addition to streaming services, discs, and games, Dolby Atmos is available through broadcast TV as well. With the adoption of Next Generation Audio (NGA) standards, Dolby Atmos can now be delivered using Dolby’s latest encoding standard Dolby AC-4, as well as with some earlier encoding systems.

Are Dolby Atmos and Dolby AC-4 the same?

Dolby Atmos and Dolby AC-4 are different but are often used together to deliver a high-quality audio experience. Dolby Atmos is a branded audio experience and Dolby AC-4 is a codec technology that can deliver that experience to your device. Dolby AC-4 describes the underlying audio technology, including the audio compression technology, metadata support, and system aspects. Dolby Atmos is Dolby's immersive audio experience that can be delivered through multiple Dolby audio codecs, including Dolby AC-4 and Dolby Digital Plus. Dolby Atmos can be viewed as the next logical step beyond traditional surround sound. Dolby AC-4 is the natural successor to Dolby Digital Plus and can deliver immersive Dolby Atmos audio as well as personalised NGA experiences.

To put it in simpler terms, Dolby Atmos is like a set of instructions that tells a device how to play the audio data it has received. Dolby AC-4 is one of the ways that those Dolby Atmos instructions can be encoded to be sent to the device, whether by streaming, on a disc, or by broadcast.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos and broadcast TV

Content in Dolby Atmos can be delivered to the user in many ways. Dolby AC-4 is one way. As part of the NGA standards being adopted in many countries and regions, Dolby AC-4 can be used to deliver Dolby Atmos content to TVs, including live sporting events. For example, the Polish broadcaster TVP has broadcast live, free-to-air, football matches in Dolby Atmos delivered through Dolby AC-4. The broadcasts included immersive stadium ambience from different parts of the stadium, as well as additional personalisation options using NGA delivered by Dolby AC-4, with multiple game commentators available in a selection of languages.

Dolby Atmos is a brand of immersive audio enjoyed by a growing number of consumers every day. Both original and reissued content is available in Dolby Atmos on streaming platforms such as Apple TV, Disney+, and Netflix. Dolby Atmos is also available in major videogames, such as Halo Infinite and Forza Horizon 5. Dolby Atmos Music is available on Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited, and TIDAL. Consumers are looking for the Dolby Atmos badge as the mark of a high-quality audio experience. Bringing Dolby Atmos to broadcasts makes them part of this trend.

Does experiencing Dolby Atmos mean upgrading your workflow?

As mentioned, Dolby Atmos can be delivered by broadcasts using the Dolby AC-4 codec. That’s a great way to do it but it’s not the only way. Dolby Atmos can be delivered in other ways as well. It can be delivered by Dolby Digital Plus. This is known as Dolby Digital Plus with Dolby Atmos or Dolby Digital Plus JOC (Joint Object Coding).

The latter is a technical term that can be found in some Dolby documentation, papers, and standards. Joint Object Coding describes the process by which Dolby Digital Plus with Dolby Atmos decoders, receiving a legacy 5.1 mix and sideband metadata, are able to reconstruct the original Dolby Atmos mix. A key feature of the Dolby Atmos launch using Dolby Digital Plus was that this allowed legacy Dolby Digital Plus systems to still receive and decode a surround sound experience. Dolby Atmos has been created to work with proven workflows, untethering the consumer experience from the technology used to deliver it.

How widespread is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is available from many broadcasters worldwide and – with AC-4 incorporated in standards such as HbbTV, DVB, and ATSC 3.0 – is now an option for many more. National and regional tests and trials continue to show how the technology can be deployed to enhance broadcasts and delight consumers. Dolby Atmos is a consumer-facing brand that can attract viewers to broadcasters in an increasingly competitive landscape.

If you’d like to know more about how to add Dolby Atmos to your workflow, please contact us.