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 audio (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 available in the home.

Read on to find out everything you need to know about the contrasts between the different options for Dolby sound, both Atmos and Digital help you decide which is best for your home application.

What are the Differences Between Dolby Atmos and Dolby Digital?

Regarding home theatre, Dolby Atmos and Digital from Dolby Laboratories 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 

  • Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology that has made its way from post-production suites to be used in home theater systems.
  • Multi-channel with horizontal and vertical speaker arrangement. 
  • 3D surround audio for enhanced audio at home.
  • Allows up to 128 channels on a single device. 
  • Most soundbar manufacturers support Dolby Atmos as a standard.

Dolby Digital 

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

As you can see from the above comparison, Dolby Atmos Sound 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.

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 surround sound technology that offers a highly captivating Dolby audio listening experience, which is why it has been popular and prominent for so long, however, it is less commonly used on new soundbars.

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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 soundbar or speaker system you invest in, so ensuring that the speakers you choose complement the system’s capabilities is essential.

So, both Dolby sound options are overall better than the regular surround options however, Dolby Atmos is the best option around, but both provide excellent, outstanding sound quality for home listening and viewing.

Take your home theater experience to the next level with the outstanding quality and fidelity that Dolby Atmos provides.

Do Atmos and Digital Provide Surround Sound?

Yes, both Dolby Atmos and Digital provide surround audio. If you’re unfamiliar with the term, surround sound describes a system capable of producing an audio sensation from all directions, “surrounding” the listener which is easily available to experience with many different Dolby audio options around.

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

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

Dolby Atmos gives users spatial sound, while Dolby Digital offers 5.1 spatial 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 surround 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.

As such, it’s an ideal configuration for home theatre systems, providing good 3D sound for an engrossing listening experience.

However, due to newer technology, the use of more modern standards is being taken and will provide support for Dolby Atmos. The key difference lies in how the speakers, the way the left and right speakers are laid out in Dolby Surround vs Dolby Atmos, whereas a 7.1 system will split the side and rear sound effects.

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As a result, the 3D sound offered by Dolby Atmos music is even more captivating than Dolby Digital, which is most attractive about upgrading to Atmos.

The bottom line is that Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos provide exceptional sound quality.

Still, the spatial sound offered by Atmos is even more captivating, 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 surround 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 home theater systems and soundbars, you want to know the differences between Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos.

Both offer exceptional 3D audio, but the increased features of Dolby Atmos mean that it’s capable of more immersive sound than Digital. 

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

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What is the difference between Dolby Atmos and Digital?

A: Dolby Atmos is an object-based audio technology that provides a more immersive and realistic sound experience by adding overhead sound effects. On the other hand, Dolby Digital is a channel-based audio technology that provides 3D audio through multiple channels, typically found in traditional 5.1 or 7.1 surround setups.

Q: Does Dolby Atmos support Dolby Digital?

A: Yes, Dolby Atmos can support Dolby Digital audio, as well as other audio formats, to deliver a more enthralling and dynamic audio experience.

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Q: Can I experience Dolby Atmos content on streaming services?

A: Yes, many streaming services offer Dolby Atmos content, allowing users to enjoy a captivating audio experience on compatible devices.

Q: What are the key features of Dolby Atmos and Digital Plus?

A: Dolby Atmos provides enthralling audio with support for audio objects and height channels, creating a 3D audio immersion. Dolby Digital Plus, on the other hand, enhances standard Dolby Digital audio with improved compression and support for more audio channels, such as 7.1.

Q: How are Dolby Atmos soundbars different from traditional spatial sound systems?

A: Dolby Atmos soundbars are designed to create a more immersive audio experience by incorporating upward-firing speakers to simulate overhead sound effects, whereas classic spatial sound systems rely on multiple speakers placed around the room.

Q: What does Dolby Digital include?

A: Dolby Digital surround sound includes support for up to 5.1 channels, enabling a more immersive audio experience with dedicated channels for the front left, front right, center, surround left, surround right, and a subwoofer for deep bass.

Q: Can Dolby Atmos and DTS be used together?

A: Yes, it is possible to use Dolby Atmos and DTS together, as both technologies focus on delivering high-quality audio experiences, and some devices and content support both formats for versatility.

Q: What are the benefits of Dolby Atmos in music production?

A: Dolby Atmos allows music producers to create more captivating and spatial audio experiences by placing sounds in a 3D space, enhancing the sense of depth and realism in music recordings.

Q: Why is Dolby Atmos considered superior to traditional surround sound formats?

A: Dolby Atmos is considered superior due to its support for audio objects, height channels, and the ability to create a captivating, 3D sound experience that goes beyond the limitations of traditional left and right surround sound setups.