Dolby Atmos vs. Dolby Digital?

If you’re planning to set up a home theater, you’ve come across both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital. But what are the differences between the two, and what can you expect in terms of sound quality?

Dolby Atmos is more advanced than Dolby Digital, offering 3D surround sound (as opposed to 2D) while allowing up to 128 channels on a single device (compared to 6). Ultimately, they both produce great sound, but Dolby Atmos is the better option in terms of immersion and audio quality.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the differences between Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital to help you decide which is best for your home application.

What are the Differences Between Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital?

When it comes to home theatre, Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital are two of the leading options. But what are some of the differences? Well, here’s what you can expect from the two sound systems in a nutshell: 

Dolby Atmos 

  • Multi-channel with horizontal and vertical speaker arrangement. 
  • 3D surround sound for enhanced audio at home.
  • Allows up to 128 channels on a single device. 

Dolby Digital 

  • Multi-channel with horizontal speaker arrangement. 
  • 2D surround sound. 
  • Allows up to 6 channels on a single device.

As you can see from the above comparison, Dolby Atmos offers enhanced sound quality and more features for home audio setups, which is why it’s typically more expensive.

Still, both Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos offer excellent sound quality and can be assets to your home viewing and listening experience.

You may also like:  Is 70c too Hot for a CPU? (Keep Your PC Running Cool!)

Which is Better?

As touched upon, Dolby Atmos is typically regarded as the better of the two. But that being said, both offer unique benefits that different customers might find appealing.

For instance, Dolby Digital is a traditional surround sound technology that offers a highly immersive listening experience, which is why it has been popular and prominent for so long.

That being said, with 128 listening channels available, Dolby Atmos cranks things up a notch, and the 3D listening experience is one of the best audio options for enhanced home audiovisual applications.

Of course, the quality of your Dolby Digital or Dolby Atmos setup will depend on the speaker system you invest in, so ensuring that the speakers you choose complement the system’s capabilities is essential.

So, if we have to choose one, Dolby Atmos is better than Dolby Digital, but both provide excellent, immersive sound quality for home listening and viewing.

Do Atmos and Digital Provide Surround Sound?

Yes, both Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital provide surround sound. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, surround sound describes a system capable of producing an audio sensation from all directions, “surrounding” the listener with audio.

Traditionally, speakers could only provide sound in front of the listener. 

Still, advances in audio technology mean that surround sound provides a much more extensive and immersive listening experience.

Dolby Atmos offers 7:1 surround sound, while Dolby Digital offers 5:1 surround sound. But what does this mean for your home listening experience? Let’s take a closer look.

What’s the Difference Between 5:1 and 7:1 Surround Sound?

Most speakers – Dolby Digital included – are laid out in a 5:1 layout. It has five main full audio spectrum channels coupled with a low-frequency enhancement.

You may also like:  Motorola vs. Netgear Modem (Which is Best?)

As such, it’s an ideal configuration for home theatre systems, providing good surround sound for an immersive listening experience.

However, a 7:1 configuration is less common, but it’s an essential feature of Dolby Atmos. The key difference is how the speakers are laid out, and 7:1 systems split the side and rear sound effects.

As a result, the surround sound offered is even more immersive than Dolby Digital, which is most attractive about upgrading to Atmos.

The bottom line is that Dolby Digital (5:1) and Dolby Atmos (7:1) provide exceptional sound quality.

Still, the surround sound offered by Atmos is even more immersive, making it an attractive option to people looking to set up a home cinema.

What About Dolby TrueHD?

Another codec option for you to consider is Dolby TrueHD, which offers 7:1 audio, as with Atmos. The key difference between the two is that they work differently, and it’s helpful to regard Atmos as an extension of TrueHD.

If a specific device is compatible with TrueHD and Atmos, the latter is usually given higher priority and becomes the default sound for most configurations.

If the device isn’t Atmos compatible, it will revert to TrueHD.

Fundamentally, TrueHD produces a sound almost the same as when it was initially recorded, offering exceptional sound quality.

This is why many movie theaters have Dolby TrueHD sound as standard. 


If you’re looking to set up a home theater system, you want to know the differences between Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos.

Both offer exceptional surround sound, but the increased features of Dolby Atmos mean that it’s capable of more immersive sound than Digital. 

You may also like:  Does Degaussing Destroy a Hard Drive?

So, if you’re looking for the best of the two, Dolby Atmos is the clear winner.