Logo-Dolby-Atmos-GifThe new Aquaris M 5.5 includes Dolby Atmos technology, developed by Dolby Laboratories, the leading company in the creation of cutting-edge audio entertainment systems and software. If you’re wondering how it works and you’d like to know about the improvements it is capable of bringing to mobile devices, keep reading.

Dolby Atmos, a three-dimensional sound system

Imagine watching a film and hearing planes and helicopters flying above you, or birds flying over your head. An all-encompassing sound which submerges you deeper into the action, making you experience each scene with greater intensity and excitement, thanks to a real 3D audio experience.

This immersive sound technology is also applicable to video games. In an action game, you’ll be able to hear exactly where explosions are coming from, or know whether there are enemies above you.  This realism will make you feel immersed in the story right from the start, so you can enjoy your favourite games to the max.

Dolby Atmos is an all-encompassing three-dimensional sound technology which, for the first time, uses objects in addition to audio channels (left, right and rear). This means that each element in a scene (for example the sound of a car, rain falling, or someone talking) can be an audio object, and film makers can specify where these originate and how they move. What’s more, the system allows for up to 128 audio tracks, including both sound objects and channels.

Dolby Atmos object-based audio

Dolby Atmos object-based audio

To make the most of this technology, Dolby Atmos-optimised cinemas have overhead speakers, giving three-dimensional sound. With Dolby Atmos, a standard 5.1 surround sound system becomes 5.1.2. Also possible are set-ups with 4 overhead speakers (5.1.4, 7.1.2, 7.1.4, and so on). To get an idea, you’ll need a special amplifier for this technology if you want to add overhead speakers in your home.

Dolby Atmos on mobile devices

You may be wondering how it is possible to achieve three-dimensional sound on a mobile device. It is made possible by combining two fundamental technologies: binaural playback (with headphones), using HRTF spatial sound, and object-based audio, which is essential to Dolby Atmos. HRTF, or Head-Related Transfer Function, is when the brain detects changes in sound together with the difference in time between the sound reaching the right and left ears. With Dolby Atmos object-based audio, each object contains information (metadata) on the place the sound is to originate from and where it should move to. Here is an example of how HRTF works:

  • You cross the road without looking, and suddenly hear a car beep its horn to your left. The left ear receives the sound straight-on and with more power. As the sound has to travel round your head, the right ear hears the sound a thousandth of a second later, with a slightly reduced intensity and perhaps a somewhat different tone. The brain analyses this and turns the head to see where the sound is coming from. This is what helps us avoid danger.

Dolby Atmos uses complex algorithms capable of simulating a sound source from any location. Dolby Atmos also includes additional improvements for mobile devices:

  • Dialogue Enhancer: Ensures that every word is heard over built-in speakers and headphones.
  • Surround Virtualizer: Creates a 5.1-channel surround sound experience through built-in speakers or headphones.
  • Volume Leveler: Ensures a consistent listening experience when switching content sources or media.
  • Intelligent Equalizer: dynamically adjusts the audio to achieve the tone you want.
  • Volume Maximizer: Gets the most out of a device’s speakers without distortion.

It’s important to remember that for the optimum sound experience, both the system and the content should be adapted to play Dolby Atmos sound. With the Aquaris M5.5, BQ has committed to this technology for which more and more specially-adapted content will be released. On Android, for example, Angry Birds Star Wars II has been optimised for Dolby Atmos. Some of the technologies which are currently beginning to include Dolby Atmos are VOD services and virtual reality headsets.

Now that you know some of the benefits of this technology, grab your Aquaris M5.5 and a good pair of headphones and spend a few minutes watching the videos in this article, which all contain samples of Dolby Atmos sound.

Raúl Cifuentes (known in the forum as Raulete) is a micro systems technician. For some time now he has worked as an editor for MyBQ, Smartphone MVP, BQ tablet beta tester and active member of the BQ forum. His passion for technology, the Android world, benchmarking and "tinkering" with devices has led him to create his own blog on the Android world. He also appreciates high-quality image and sound.