We’ve finally arrived at the conclusion of our series on Understanding Home Theater Sound Types. It’s been our privilege here at Experience Audio Video to educate you, our readers, on this often confusing topic. Thanks for reading!

So far we’ve covered all the major home theater sound types in the 5.1-channel, 7.1-channel and 9.1-channel categories. But there’s one more category that bears discussing: the current undisputed champion of fully immersive audio, 11.1-channel formats.

There are three 11.1-channel formats to discuss, all evolutions of technologies we covered in previous posts.

Dolby Atmos

Dolby Atmos is a real reimagining of surround sound technology. It’s an object-based format, where audio is assigned to exact spatial locations, mimicking where those sounds would take place if your media were real life. It includes either ceiling-mounted speakers or up-throwing speakers to generate the spatial element.

With Atmos, you need a new number in your configuration: 7.1.4, for example, indicates a seven-speaker surround setup, one subwoofer, and four overhead or up-firing speakers.


DTS:X takes a similar object-based approach, but it’s a little more flexible. It works with or without the overhead/up-firing speakers, so you could use DTS:X with as little as a 5.1-channel configuration. It also allows for some mild customization, such as toggling dialog louder.


Auro-3D has several additional configurations and speaker placements, including a 10th channel overhead center and an 11th, which adds front center height.

Auro even has a 13.1-channel option, which adds in the rear surround left/right speakers that were lost way back at 9.1-channel Auro-3D. Note that there are very few 13.1-channel receivers on the market, and like any latest and greatest tech, you’ll pay a premium.

Which Should You Choose?

Much of today’s content is encoded with either Dolby Atmos or DTS:X. The good news is that most robust systems can adequately interpret both of those without the need for reconfiguration. Auro-3D is a bit different, but it can adequately distribute content encoded using the other formats as well.

Unsure which way to go? Schedule a free consultation today and talk to an industry veteran to help determine what makes the most sense for your space.


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