Dolby Atmos VS Dolby Digital – Which One is Better?

Dolby Digital Soundbar is one of the most popular sound systems to date and is followed closely by another highly rated surround sound system known as Dolby Atmos

Whether you have a studio with high-definition TV sets or just a plain old TV at your house, a certain amount of research is required before you go on shopping for your ideal sound system.  

Sound systems play an important part in the enhancement of the experience, whether it’s a game you are playing or a movie that you are watching; sounds are important. In order to make the right choice while selecting from the two competing soundbars, one must weigh all the pros and the cons associated with each product.

What is Dolby Atmos?

What is Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is also a sound decoder but with some unique features that are not found in the Dolby Digital. Dolby Digital uses vertical technology to turn the two-dimensional virtual audio into a three-dimensional real sound experience.  

With the additional speakers placed on the top of the device, the sound waves not only echo from the walls of the room but also the ceilings and the floors. Such a movement in the soundwaves enables the user to feel as if they are inside the TV set living the screen instead of sitting in front of it. 

The technology enables the sound to be treated as an individual object rather than just waves. Once the sound object tech is used, the sound can travel independently in every direction rather than just traveling in straight channels. 

What is Dolby Digital?

What is Dolby Digital

Dolby Digital or Dolby Digital is a technology that transfers digital audio coding into a high-definition sound mode.

Dolby Digital uses channels that amount to the number 5. The channels are placed on either side of the device as well as the rear and the center. There is an additional sixth channel known as the Low-Frequency effects but it is only used for bass settings.  

Previously known as the AC3, the Dolby Digital presents a range of vast devices which are compatible with such as DVD-ROMS and DVD-Video. The main aim of Dolby Digital is to create high-quality sound output from restricted or minimal data. 

Dolby Atmos VS Dolby Digital – Detailed Comparison

Although both these soundbars are associated with Dolby, there are certain differences between them. For instance, the placement of the channels in both these soundbars is different.  

When it comes to the Dolby Digital, all the channels are placed on a level with each other whereas in Dolby Atmos the speakers are placed on top as well to provide a 3D experience. To further explain this concept, Dolby Digital can only provide a virtual two-dimensional sound quality but the Atmos delivers a three-dimensional real sound experience. 

When it comes to the setup of channels, the Dolby Digital would consist of 5:1 and they travel only horizontally whereas the Dolby Atmos consist of 7:1 both horizontally and vertically. These channels determine how the sound echos in the room where the soundbar is based. 

There is a clear distinction here that suggests the Dolby Digital has a voice quality that is only speaker based but Dolby Atmos automatically adjusts the sounds. Due to the overhead speakers, the soundbar has the technology to not only sound real but also adjust according to the settings on its own. 

Last but not the least, the Dolby Digital can only be enabled for the pre-existing settings of the device as compared to the Dolby Atmos that can be set up with existing settings as well as the compatible ones. 

Which Soundbar is Better? 

Given the detailed comparison between the two soundbars, it feels like the Dolby Atmos soundbar has more features than the Dolby Digital. Whether we talk about the three-dimensional effect or we talk about the compatibility with other devices, Dolby Atmos is always ahead of Dolby Digital. 

While Dolby Atmos has its advantages, Dolby Digital has certain qualities that Atmos does not possess. For instance, Dolby Digital has software that is easier to access with a greater range of software options. The level of accuracy when it comes to the transferring of channel levels to disc is higher in Dolby Digital and the code used is very efficient. 

As the compression level required in Dolby Digital is higher, there might be some issues in the quality of the sound. In comparison, the Dolby Atmos can provide for a better quality of sound but the overhead speakers do not work well in all conditions. For example, in order for them to work on their full potential, the roofs need to be flat and the speakers need to be placed high up on the wall. 

The coding process in Dolby Atmos is complicated and is not always compatible with all devices. One must make sure to have a compatible setup before purchasing the Dolby Atmos soundbar

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Dolby Atmos Expensive?

The soundbar in itself is not as expensive as the cost of having a flat ceiling and the additional speakers to enhance the sonic quality. The premium version of the software can also add to the expenses. 

Which Setup is Better for a Small Setup?

If you have a small setup then Dolby Digital is better for you as it would be compatible as well as cheaper to afford without the additional cost of the speakers. Since Dolby Digital is designed for HD TV sets, there might be some distortion. 

What is the Purpose of LFE?

LFE or the low-frequency effect refers to the sixth channel in the Dolby Digital which is an audio track. It is used to recreate sounds of low frequency and higher intensity. 


In conclusion, if you have the setup to support it, Dolby Atmos is the better option among the two popular soundbars. 

Atmos beats Dolby Digital in its three-dimensional technology and sound quality. Of course, there is a hassle of getting the software to be installed correctly and checking the compatibility but it still provides a better option than the Dolby digital, especially for home theatres.

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