When tvOS 12 releases in the fall, your Apple TV 4K is going to become the only streaming player featuring both Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos approval, according to both Apple itself and Dolby Laboratories. But what’s so great about Dolby Atmos sound?

Here’s why you should care about Dolby Atmos if you own an Apple TV 4K.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Unlike the traditional surround sound technologies, Dolby Atmos treats each sound as a virtual object that can be positioned anywhere in a three-dimensional space.

Apple describes it as sound, turned up to 360:

Combine Apple TV 4K with a Dolby Atmos–compatible sound system and you’re fully immersed in three-dimensional audio that sends sound around and above you with pinpoint precision. Whether a jet zooms overhead or a torrential downpour erupts, the true-to-life sound puts you inside the action.

Accessing Dolby Atmos features on your Apple TV 4K will require Dolby Atmos–enabled speakers or a Hi-Fi receiver. That’s because Dolby Atmos is decoded by an external receiver.

In other words, your Apple TV doesn’t really do anything special with the audio data other than forward it untouched via the HDMI cable to the connected Hi-Fi receiver or Dolby Atmos–enabled speakers to do all the decoding work. And if there’s no receiver in your Hi-Fi chain, Apple TV will simply downmix the streamed Atmos data to stereo.

“Playback quality will depend on hardware and Internet connection,” reads the fine print.

Key Dolby Atmos features

Here are some of the key Dolby Atmos features:

  • Moves sound all around you: Rather than being constrained to channels, sounds can be precisely placed and moved in three-dimensional space.
  • Adds an overhead dimension: A new sensation of height immerses you in the action, creating a full audio atmosphere and realistically depicting objects moving overhead.
  • Produces breathtaking sound quality: Dolby Atmos renders everything from dialogue to quiet scenes to whirlwind action with astonishing clarity, richness, detail and depth.
  • Creates a powerfully moving entertainment experience: It all comes together in sound that excites your senses and inspires your emotions to deliver the full impact of entertainment.

With upcoming support for this premium surround sound technology and existing Dolby Vision video HDR support, Apple TV 4K will deliver the highest-quality cinematic experience of awesome 4K HDR visuals and immersive sound that flows all around in three-dimensional space.

And when tvOS 12 releases in the fall, iTunes will upgrade your existing movie purchases to Dolby Atmos with no additional charge just like the company offered free 4K HDR upgrades to previously purchased movies in customers’ iTunes libraries.

Wrapping it all up

To lear more about Dolby Atmos and experience for yourself how this cool surround sound technology transports you from the ordinary into the extraordinary, visit the official webpage at dolby.com/us/en/brands/dolby-atmos.html.

Following today’s preview of tvOS 12, Apple has said that the upgraded tvOS 12 software will release some time this fall, likely alongside other OS updates, as a free update for the fourth-generation Apple TV and the latest and greatest Apple TV 4K model.

The developer preview of tvOS 12 is available at developer.apple.com.

Some of the more important tvOS 12 features include a new Space screen saver, Zero Sign-On, AutoFill passwords, the ability to control the device from home control systems such as Control4 and Crestron, including using Siri for voice search and control, and more.

To learn more about the key tvOS 12 features, check out our earlier post.

For even more details on tvOS 12, read Apple’s press release and visit apple.com/apple-tv-4K.