Findđiffer Dolby Digital vs Dolby Atmos

Dolby Digital vs Dolby Atmos

Home theater audio has gone a long way since the choice for sound has been limited to mono or stereo. Today, surround sound systems have taken over and they come in different standards and platforms. Dolby Digital vs Dolby Atmos is two of the most widely used surround sound formats.

Mono is audio coming from one channel. Stereo is audio coming from 2 channels. The stereo sound comes to the right and left without including above, below, and behind. Surround sound, on the other hand, is a mixing process.

Surround sound includes 2 channels and may include 5 speakers and 1 subwoofer, 7 speakers and 1 subwoofer, or up to 21 speakers and 1 subwoofer. It all depends on the number of speakers you want to mix in the process.

As the term connotes, surround sound “surrounds” the listener with 3600 sound coming from the left, right, above, and below making the sound more realistic. It is more commonly used in home theater systems and can either be a digital or analog system.

When you speak of surround sound standards, Dolby Digital and Dolby Amos always make it to the top of the list.

Dolby Digital is considered the gold standard for surround sound. It uses specialized encoding and decoding technology to reproduce multichannel audio to deliver a cinematic sound experience in home theaters.

Dolby Atmos follows in the footsteps of Dolby Digital to deliver a cinematic sound experience.  It has become the newest standard in surround sound. This audio format debuted in movie theaters but has since been developed to support home theaters.

Read on and see how Dolby Atmos is different from Dolby Digital, its direct predecessor.

Comparison Chart

 Dolby DigitalDolby Amos
Speaker ArrangementHorizontalHorizontal and Vertical
Audio Compression2D surround sound3D surround sound
Channel Setup5:1

·      subwoofer

·      center speaker,

·      right and left front speakers

·      right and left rear speakers



·      subwoofer

·      center speaker,

·      right and left front speakers

·      right and left rear speakers

·      pair of side speakers

SystemSpeaker-basedObject-based (3D space )


Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital


See more: Dolby Digital vs Dolby Digital Plus

Dolby Digital is a digital audio coding form that efficiently stores and transmits high-quality digital sound. Movie theaters first used this technology in 1992. It is now available for home video programming.

Dolby Digital programs deliver surround sound with 5 discrete full-range channels:

  • Right
  • Center
  • Left
  • Right Surround
  • Left Surround

A sixth channel is also available for powerful LFEs (low-frequency effects) which makes the viewers feel more than hear.

Dolby Digital audio can be used with laserdiscs, DVD-ROM discs for computers, DVD-Video discs, digital cable systems, digital broadcast TV, and direct broadcast satellite (DBS) systems. These discs usually come with the Dolby Digital logo.

Dolby Atmos

DTX: X vs Dolby Atmos

The Dolby Atmos systems have been delivering 3D aural and surround-sound experiences in theaters since 1992. Today, they have brought the object-based experience to home theaters.

Dolby Atmos is a system that places speakers above the viewers. It creates superior moving audio that streams around you for an absolute home theater sound experience.

With a Dolby Atmos system, speakers are positioned above the audience. It delivers sounds into a 3D space creating a feeling of being part of the action. It simultaneously duplicates up to 128 audio objects to create a mix of breathtaking, realistic, and rich sound.

There is a growing list of movies, content, and Blu-ray discs with Dolby Atmos soundtracks for home theaters.


For home theaters, both Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos are multi-channel sound systems. The format of Dolby Digital presumes that all speakers are at a level with each other.  Dolby Atmos introduces the height concept (3D). 


Dolby Digital assigns between 2.0 go 5.1 or more channels. Speakers are horizontally arranged. Dolby Atmos assigns between 3.1.2 to 4.1.4 channels with speakers are arranged horizontally and vertically.

The first number represents the horizontal speakers. The second number represents the subwoofer, and in the case of Dolby Atmos, the third number represents the number of vertical speakers.

Sound Experience

Both Dolby Digital and Dolby Atmos uses sound enhancement tool software that delivers premium quality sound. Dolby Digital, however, provides sound from your existing speaker set-up while Dolby Atmos uses the software as well as compatible hardware.

This means that Dolby Atmos creates a more superior sound experience than Dolby Digital because of the required hardware.

Sound Creation

With Dolby Digital, when an illusion of someone behind the audience needs to be created, the sound is simply thrown to the intended speaker. This is because Dolby Digital is a speaker-based system.

Dolby Atmos, on the other hand, does not push the sound to a certain speaker. Instead, it pushes the sound to a 3D space.

To create an illusion of a fighter jet flying overhead no particular speaker where the sound will come is chosen. What is chosen is a particular 3D space and the Atmos System will automatically adjust the sound that should come out of the right speaker.

Audio Compression

Dolby Digital via its latest codec, Dolby TrueHD creates 2D surround sound. Dolby Atmos renders a real 3D surround sound experience.


If you want to enjoy the best home theater systems you need to invest in these minimum requirements:

Which is better –Dolby Digital vs Dolby Atmos? If you look at the specs alone, Dolby Atmos beats Dolby Digital promising a more realistic and superior movie experience.

With standards and technology constantly evolving, the best way to ensure superior surround sound for your movies is to have superior-quality components. These components should have the proper set-up and top-quality source material.

With the right set-up and source materials, Both will not matter. Using either of these surround sound systems will ensure you will always have thrilling and superior home theater entertainment.