Apple’s new 16-inch MacBook Pro that began shipping today packs a lot of punch for a notebook (especially if you go overboard with build-to-order upgrades), but one feature stood out for me in particular — support for Dolby Atmos audio playback.
As per the official technical specifications for the 16-incher, it has “support for Dolby Atmos playback”. Apple does not clarify what that means, but an educate guess has it that the computer is now fast enough to take care of decoding and rendering Dolby Atmos sound.
But what precisely is Dolby Atmos and why you should care?
Developed by Dolby Laboratories, Dolby Atmos was introduced in June 2012 with the release of Pixar’s animated film “Brave”. It’s basically surround sound turned up to 360 degrees. 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.
Supporting up to 128 audio tracks, Dolby Atmos sound includes associated audio description metadata for dynamic rendering to speakers based on a target device’s capabilities. Each audio track can be assigned to a different audio channel or to a virtual audio object, resulting in a spatial experience that sends sound around and above you with pinpoint precision.
But just because Apple’s new notebook supports Dolby Atmos playback doesn’t mean you’ll get fully immersed in three-dimensional audio. For that, you’ll need something like an Apple TV 4K paired with a Dolby Atmos–compatible sound system connected to a bunch of speakers.
Other Apple devices that support Dolby Atmos include the Apple TV 4K and the latest iPhone 11, iPhone 11 Pro and iPhone 11 Pro Max smartphone models. However, Dolby Atmos on the Apple TV 4K and the latest iPhones simply passes the signal to an external receiver to be decoded while the new MacBook Pro actually decodes Dolby Atmos signal via its fast chips and renders sound to its six-speaker system.
Apple’s press release states that the new speaker setup offers high-fidelity sound:
New Apple-patented force-canceling woofers use dual opposed speaker drivers to reduce unwanted vibrations that distort sound. As a result, music sounds more clear and natural than ever before and the bass can go half an octave deeper.
And this from the new MacBook Pro product page:
MacBook Pro has a big voice. The six-speaker sound system produces room-filling wide stereo sound like you’ve never heard from a notebook before.
For those wondering, no other device from Apple aside from the new MacBook Pro, the Apple TV 4K and the latest iPhones offers support for Dolby Atmos audio playback.
Are you excited for Dolby Atmos support on the 16-inch MacBook Pro.
Let us know by leaving a comment down below!