Dolby Atmos has changed the landscape of movie viewing and gaming since its inception. Now it is doing the same with music.
Taking surround sound to a new level, with extra height channels creating more immersion, the audio format is transformative. It's something that, once experienced, you'll never want to go back from.
That's why the Philips Fidelio B97 soundbar is an essential part of a home entertainment setup.
Being the first Fidelio sound system with dedicated Dolby Atmos upfiring speakers, it not only provides the audio quality synonymous with the brand, it ensures listeners are encompassed in sound.
We explain how it works and why Dolby Atmos is such a revelation in home entertainment that it's difficult to consider a system without it.
What is Dolby Atmos?
Dolby Atmos was first introduced in cinemas to add extra height channels to movie soundtracks. However, it has since moved into home entertainment, gaming, music and even (virtually) on mobile phones.
Many modern TVs offer Dolby Atmos decoding, with sporting events being broadcast by Sky and BT Sport also being among supported content. Streaming services, 4K Blu-rays and games can often come with Dolby Atmos support too.
It works by adding extra channels to a conventional surround sound setup. That often results in two channels seemingly coming from above the listener – either through dedicated ceiling mounted speakers, or via upfiring speakers that bounce the sound off the ceiling and back down to the listening position.
By heightening the sound mix, the overall experience gains more immersion, with sound seemingly coming from everywhere. Certain sounds can also be placed spatially to allow for effects, such as a plane taking off overhead.
Music, either created especially for or subsequently remixed, can sound like you are in the room while the artist is playing. It is a more emotional effect and something that has had a similar impact on audio as 4K Ultra HD and HDR has on video.
Why choose the Fidelio B97?
The Fidelio B97 sound system has been designed with Dolby Atmos firmly in mind.
It isn't just a soundbar, it is a full 7.1.2 home cinema system with incorporated 2.5-inch upfiring drivers for Dolby Atmos' extended channels. These are angled at 70-degrees to bounce the height channels in order to present the additional audio effects.
There are also 3.5-inch left, right and centre channels for a complete frontal sound stage, and detachable speakers either end that can be placed and used as wireless rear channels.
An included subwoofer provides additional deep, involving bass levels through its 8-inch driver. And, while the bar itself is capable of extremely low frequencies – at 150Hz – the separate sub can go down to an IMAX Enhanced-certified 35Hz.
The detachable rears can also double as additional width when connected to the main bar unit. They feature a single race track driver each, coupled with a 19mm soft-dome tweeter. The same tweeter is used for the left and right channels too.
Total power output is 450W.
This all effectively means that you can feed the B97 with a Dolby Atmos soundtrack from any source you choose – it sports two HDMI inputs with 4K passthrough and HDMI eARC – and it'll give you a complete home cinema experience with little fuss and a reasonable footprint. There's no need for additional separate speakers.
As well as make mincemeat of the latest movies, it can be used to turn your living room into a concert hall, once Dolby Atmos music mixes catch up with the system's potential.
Spotify Connect and Apple AirPlay 2 are supported, as is DTS Play-Fi to enable the Fidelio to fit in with a multi-room setup. And, thanks to Alexa and Google Play support, you can use an additional smart speaker to command your soundbar too.
There's no doubt about it, Dolby Atmos is a true game changer in the world of home entertainment, and the audiophile-centric Philips Fidelio B97 is a system to play it at its best.