Dolby Atmos VS 7.1 | Which One is Good?

In the world of immersive audio for home theater or gaming setups, a big debate is over Dolby Atmos vs 7.1 surround sound. Dolby Atmos and 7.1 surround sound are two of the most popular surround sound formats available today. Both formats offer a realistic and immersive audio experience.

If you’re doubtful and don’t know what to get for your specific needs and preferences, you’re in the right place. Both surrounding technologies promise to elevate your audio experience to new heights, but they do so in very different ways.

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the complexities of both the 7.1 and Dolby Atmos formats to help you understand their strengths and weaknesses and which one might be the right choice for your setup.

Quick Comparison Between Dolby Atmos and 7.1 Surround Sound

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound format that uses height channels to create a more immersive soundscape. It is like a 3D audio magic trick where sound can come from all around you, even above your head. This creates a truly immersive experience, and you feel like you’re inside the movie or game.

On the other hand, 7.1 is also a surround sound format that uses 7 speakers and 1 subwoofer to create an immersive surround sound audio experience. It is more like a precise orchestra, with speakers in fixed positions delivering sound to specific areas.

The level of immersion with 7.1 surround sound is good, but it is not up to the level of Dolby Atmos. Additionally, 7.1 is widely supported and less expensive than Dolby Atmos. Your choice depends on your preferences, budget, room setup, and what type of content you usually enjoy.

Dolby Atmos vs 7.1 – Comparison Table

AspectDolby Atmos7.1 Surround Sound
Number of channelsUp to 347 + 1 (8)
Height channelsYesNo
ImmersivenessMore immersiveLess immersive
CompatibilityLess widely supportedMore widely supported
AffordabilityLess affordableMore affordable
Speaker SetupFlexible speaker placementFixed speaker positions for the standard setup
Sound PrecisionSounds move dynamically in 3D space for accurate placement.Sound is directed to specific channels for reliable, predictable audio.
Content AvailabilityGrowing library of Dolby Atmos content, especially on streaming services.Wide availability of 7.1 content, compatible with older systems.
CostTypically higher cost due to specialized equipment and additional speakers.Generally more cost-effective, especially for established setups.
Ideal ForHome theater enthusiasts and gamers seeking the ultimate immersive experienceUsers who prefer a reliable, proven audio format with lower budget requirements

A Detailed Comparison of Dolby Atmos and 7.1 Surround Sound Formats

Now that we have a quick and clear understanding of both 7.1 and Dolby Atmos surround sound, let’s compare them in detail.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary technology that has changed the way we experience sound in music, TV shows, movies, and gaming. It enables sound to move freely in 3D space, creating an immersive and realistic audio experience. Here is a breakdown of what Dolby Atmos is and how it works:

What is it?

Dolby Atmos is a surround-sound technology that uses height channels to create realistic and immersive soundscapes. It has revolutionized the way sound is delivered in commercial cinemas and home theaters.

Dolby Atmos was developed and introduced by Dolby Laboratories in 2012, and unlike traditional surround sound systems that use channel-based sound distribution, Dolby Atmos is an object-based technology.

It treats each sound as an individual audio object with its own location and motion in 3D space to create a more realistic sound experience. As a result, you’ll feel immersed in the movie or game as the sound comes from all directions.

Dolby Atmos was introduced to cover the flaws of Dolby Digital sound, and it is better than everything and anything offered by Dolby.

How does it work?

As we already mentioned, Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio format, which means each sound is treated as an individual object that can be placed anywhere in the 3D sound field. Dolby Atmos achieves its immersive sound with the help of specialized hardware and software.

Audio engineers encode the audio content with metadata that describes the movement and position of each sound in 3D space. Then, this metadata is decoded by a compatible audio processor to determine how each sound should be reproduced in your specific speaker setup.

To reproduce overhead sounds, Dolby Atmos uses height channels that are created through speakers on the ceiling or upward-firing speakers. These speakers can be discrete or built into a wall or ceiling. This is how Dolby Atmos works to create an enveloping sound experience. Many streaming platforms are now shifting to Dolby Atmos-compatible content.

Speaker Configurations

The speaker’s positioning and configuration matter for the immersion of sound. A variety of speaker configurations are available that are used to create a Dolby Atmos sound system.

Speaker configurations are commonly denoted as X, Y, and Z. X is the number of traditional surround sound speakers; y denotes the number of subwoofers; and z is the number of overhead or height speakers.

For example, the most common speaker configuration is the 5.1.2 system, which has five front speakers, 1 subwoofer, and 2 height/overhead speakers. Other speaker configurations include 7.1.2, 9.1.2, and 11.1.2 systems.

The number of speakers in the system determines the number of discrete sound objects that can be created. Subwoofers cover the low-frequency bass sounds. Height channels are crucial for creating sounds that come from above, immersing you fully in the audio environment.

Sound Precision

Dolby Atmos delivers a more realistic and captivating sound experience than traditional surround sound systems. This is because of the more precise sound placement of the height channels, which makes the soundscape more enveloping.

Sounds are rendered with remarkable precision, moving all around you and even overhead. It creates a realistic experience, making it feel as though you’re inside the action. Although dialogue clarity in Dolby Atmos is almost the same as on the 7.1 surround system, it takes the lead in surround sound effects.

Immersive Experience

Dolby Atmos creates a more immersive audio experience than traditional systems. With it, you’re not just listening to the sound; you’re experiencing it. It is because of its object-based audio technology and inclusion of height speakers.

This immersive experience enhances your emotional connection to the content, and you can feel like you are right in the middle of the action.


Dolby Atmos can’t just work with any hardware or content. It requires compatible speakers, hardware, and content for proper playback. This may include an AV receiver, soundbar, or A/V processor, as well as speakers that can support the required channels, like overhead or height speakers.

Additionally, your source content, such as games, movies, or streaming services, must be encoded in Dolby Atmos. Ensure all components are Dolby Atmos-ready to experience the immersive 3D audio that this technology offers.


Dolby Atmos is a flexible technology that is adaptable to a variety of room sizes and speaker configurations. You can have a Dolby Atmos setup in a small living room, dedicated home theaters, movie theaters, and even mobile devices, and it will adjust to optimize your audio experience.

You can also choose any speaker configuration based on speaker availability, room size, and personal preferences. Additionally, Dolby Atmos is compatible with a wide range of content, including TV shows, movies, music, and games.


Dolby Atmos systems are more expensive than traditional surround-sound setups. It is because of the need for additional speakers and compatible hardware, including AV receivers or soundbars. However, this investment is worth it and can greatly enhance your audio experience.


  • Enhanced Immersion
  • Flexible speaker configurations
  • More realistic sound
  • Future-proof
  • Expanding Dolby-compatible content
  • Better at recreating the movement of sounds.


  • Can be expensive.
  • Requires special hardware and content.
  • Not all content is available in Dolby Atmos.
  • Requires professional installation.

7.1 Surround Sound: Immersive Audio in a Classic Package

What is it?

7.1 surround sound is a channel-based audio system that uses eight discrete channels to deliver an immersive surround sound experience. These eight channels include seven speakers and one subwoofer.

7.1 builds upon the earlier 5.1 surround sound setup with two additional rear surround speakers. These two extra channels help to create a wider soundstage and give you a better sense of location, depth, and space.

The 7.1 surround channels are placed in a way that completes the sound immersion and makes you feel like you’re in the center of the matter.

How does it work?

7.1 surround sound works by sending different audio signals to specific channels, creating a spatial audio experience. There are eight channels in the 7.1 system, each with a dedicated speaker.

The speaker arrangement in the 7.1 system consists of a center channel, side left and right channels, front left and right channels, rear right and left channels, and a subwoofer channel for low-frequency audio effects.

The center speaker plays the dialogue, the front right and left speakers play the main channels, the surround speakers play the ambient sounds, and the side speakers play the sounds that are coming from the sides of the room. The subwoofer is used for low-frequency sound effects.

The audio is pre-mixed and encoded into these channels, offering a reliable and predictable audio experience.

Speaker Configurations

In a 7.1 system, speaker configurations are represented as x.y, where x denotes the number of surround speakers and y denotes the number of subwoofers. Generally, 7.1 systems have fixed configurations, with seven speakers and one subwoofer, which are placed at specific positions around the listener.

Sound Precision

7.1 surround sound offers greater sound precision than 5.1 surround setups with their fixed speaker positions. It is because of the extra side channels for a wider soundstage and a good sense of location.

The 7.1 system provides a 2D surround sound experience that is truly captivating and puts you in the center of the action.

Immersive Experience

While 7.1 sound is not as immersive as Dolby Atmos, it still provides a more immersive audio experience than the 5.1 system. As it is a channel-based system, 7.1 may not be as precise in reproducing spatial sound.

So, the 7.1 multi-channel setup provides a sense of being surrounded by sound, enhancing your viewing and gaming experiences.


7.1 surround sound systems are compatible with a wide range of video and audio sources and do not require specialized hardware or content. 7.1 systems are compatible with modern home theater receivers, AV receivers, many newer Blu-ray players, and streaming devices. So, 7.1 is a reliable choice for various media types.


In comparison to Dolby Atmos, 7.1 systems have a more rigid speaker configuration and require a specific layout for better performance. However, these systems are more flexible than 5.1 systems.

Additionally, you can use these systems with a variety of different speaker configurations, including home theater systems, soundbars, and headphones.


Compared to Dolby Atmos, 7.1 surround sound systems are generally more cost-effective and easier to set up. They require fewer speakers and less specialized equipment, which makes them an attractive option for those on a budget.


  • More compatible devices and content
  • Greater sound precision
  • Reliable and immersive audio experience
  • Cost-effective than Dolby Atmos


  • Fixed speaker placement
  • Limited immersion
  • Complex setups than simple audio setups

Dolby Atmos vs 7.1 – Which One is Better?

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound system that is used to create an immersive listening experience. It is done with the addition of overhead channels to the traditional surround sound setups, resulting in a realistic, captivating, and enveloping sound.

In contrast to 7.1 systems, Dolby Atmos provides more accurate and deep sound and creates a 3D soundscape that feels natural and more realistic. It also uses advanced calibration software for optimal performance in any environment.

Overall, Dolby Atmos is a revolutionary technology that provides a more realistic and immersive listening experience than traditional surround sound systems, including 7.1 audio setups.

Dolby Atmos vs 7.1 Comparison Table

Final Words

In the comparison of Dolby Atmos vs 7.1, both surround sound technologies have their merits, and the choice comes down to your budget, preferences, and room setup. Whichever setup you choose, both technologies offer a fantastic audio experience that can enhance your home entertainment. So, whether you opt for the immersive soundscapes of Dolby Atmos or the trusted reliability of 7.1, you’ll feel immersed in the world of audio excellence.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Dolby Atmos better than 7.1 surround?

There is no doubt that Dolby Atmos is superior to 7.1 surround sound. This is because Dolby Atmos adds a third dimension to the soundscape by using height channels. Using this technique, sound can be precisely placed in vertical space, creating a more immersive and realistic sound environment.

Does Dolby Atmos have 7.1 surround sound?

If you own a 7.1 surround sound system, you can use Dolby Atmos with it. In this case, the height channels are created using up-firing speakers or height virtualization technology. It is important to note, however, that Dolby Atmos is best experienced with dedicated height speakers.

Which is better, Dolby 7.2 or Atmos?

Dolby 7.2 is a surround sound format with seven front speakers and two rear speakers. The Dolby Atmos surround sound format is object-based and can be used on any number of speakers, including 7.2. In general, Dolby Atmos provides a more immersive and realistic sound experience than Dolby 7.2. If you do not want to invest in a dedicated height speaker system, Dolby 7.2 is still a good option.

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