Sonos is adding new Dolby Atmos options, making it possible to tweak the performance of the height channels for a more immersive experience. The new software will give Sonos Arc owners more granular control over how the different areas of their home theater sound are configured, after the soundbar launched with Atmos support last year.
Dolby Atmos distinguishes itself from other surround sound formats by taking into account channel height as well as 2D positioning in the room. Rather than just locating rear channels behind the listener, Atmos allows for overhead channels that can – either by using physical speakers or through reflecting sound off the ceiling – give the impression of objects moving overhead.
So, you could have a helicopter moving above you, or the sound of explosions raining down around you, depending on the movie you’re watching. Arc does that with angled drivers within the sound bar, though it can optionally be configured with wireless rear surround channels using either regular Sonos speakers or Sonos Architectural.
In an update released today, Arc owners will be able to adjust one of the key Atmos settings: the volume of the height channels. That will mean the ability to emphasize – or alternatively dial back – on how much the overhead audio in heard, in relation to the rest of the soundtrack.
Arc already has automatic configuration for things like that, using Sonos Trueplay. The auto-tuning system is run when the soundbar is first installed, and basically allows it to accommodate different reflections in your room. By taking those – including the ceiling height and audio profile – into account, Arc can tweak its settings for the most balanced result.
Still, the ability to tweak what Sonos believes is the “right” configuration to something that better suits your own tastes is a useful thing. Arc already had the ability, as with other Sonos speakers, to adjust the basics of EQ, including treble and bass. You can also change the volume balance of rear surround speakers, if you’re using them.
In order to get the new Arc options, you’ll need the latest version of Sonos’ S2 app, which is now available for iPhone and Android. Expect the update itself to take a few minutes, and then you’ll find the new “Height Audio” option by going to Settings > System > Arc. It’s worth noting that only Arc owners will find it: Sonos’ other soundbars, like the Sonos Beam, don’t support Atmos audio.