Dolby Atmos is about to get a lot more adaptable. Today, Dolby is announcing Dolby Atmos FlexConnect, which it describes as “a new feature that seamlessly combines a TV’s sound system with accessory wireless speakers to deliver a larger, more immersive Dolby Atmos sound experience.” By including your TV speakers in the equation, FlexConnect doesn’t require a sound bar in the middle of it all. TCL will become the first TV maker to offer FlexConnect with its upcoming 2024 TV lineup and also plans to launch a line of wireless speakers optimized to support the feature.
Dolby says that FlexConnect “intelligently optimizes sound for any room layout and speaker setup, giving you the freedom to place one or more wireless speakers anywhere in a room without having to worry about whether they’re perfectly placed.” No lengthy setup required; Dolby will use the TV’s built-in microphones to locate and calibrate each wireless speaker in the room.
According to the company, “audio is intelligently transmitted from the TV speakers to each wireless speaker, dynamically optimizing the sound signal based on the capabilities and location of all available speakers.” So if your TV speakers aren’t as capable when it comes to bass, and most aren’t, Dolby Atmos FlexConnect will know to leave those frequencies to the wireless speakers instead of pushing the built-in drivers too hard. At least that’s the impression I get; Dolby plans to demo the new feature at the IFA in Berlin this week.
The goal of FlexConnect is to allow people to “make the most of room dimensions, outlet locations, and furniture arrangement as desired without compromising audio quality.” I obviously have some questions about how all of this comes together in practice. . Will there be potential latency issues or audio loss? Won’t this put some people off investing in an Atmos soundbar to sit front and center under their TV? I’ve yet to find a TV that produces convincing height effects with its own speakers, so I feel like that’s where I’d notice the soundbar’s absence.
We’ve seen companies like Samsung, LG, and Sony try to blend and sync the audio from their respective soundbars and TVs for a more complete listening experience. Samsung calls the function Q-Symphony. Sony’s flagship HT-A9 7.1 Atmos System It also provides customers with more flexibility with speaker placement. It seems that Dolby is trying to address both points with Dolby Atmos FlexConnect.
That said, we’re talking about a feature that will require a whole new TV (and, of course, some new wireless speakers), so immediately limiting the appeal of Dolby’s latest innovation to anyone who’s bought a 4K HDR TV through of the last years. But by the time you next The TV upgrade is coming up, hopefully Atmos and wireless surround sound in general will have become a lot more convenient.