What You Need to Truly Enjoy Object-Based Audio

3D audio has changed the game in home entertainment — but to get the most out of your system, you'll need the right AV receiver, surround sound speakers and setup.

The rise of object-based audio has deepened the experience of home entertainment and changed the way people think about surround sound. Unlike older audio technologies, 3D audio formats like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X don't rely on a set number of speakers that receive audio from designated channels. Rather, the system will call upon every connected speaker to locate detailed audio objects within your listening area so you can truly immerse yourself in a multi-dimensional sound environment.

Build your setup around a powerful AV receiver

Assembling a system that delivers consistently remarkable object-based sound starts with an AV receiver that features support for your preferred format. To ensure you have enough power for a fully immersive experience, Craig Eggers, senior director of home theater at Dolby Laboratories, recommends a receiver with a minimum output of 80 watts-per-channel. Use the auto-calibration tool included with most AV receivers to guide you through positioning speakers in the room, then make adjustments as necessary.

"Your receiver can oftentimes compensate for those speaker placements that are not ideal or 'perfect,'" Eggers said. "Don't let your fears of not achieving 'perfection' prevent you from enjoying a great entertainment experience."

Choose high-quality surround sound speakers

The versatility of 3D audio means you have a lot of options when it comes to the number and types of speakers in your setup. Many home theater enthusiasts are accustomed to surround sound configurations such as 7.1, meaning the system features eight total channels, including one that's dedicated to the subwoofer. It's important to remember that object-based audio adds the element of overhead sound. So, the addition of overhead speakers for truly immersive audio results in configurations like 5.1.4, which indicates five surround speakers, one subwoofer and four height channels.

If you prefer not to install architectural speakers in your ceiling, Definitive Technology offers a simpler solution with the A90 height speaker module. These modules integrate with the speakers in the BP9000 series and produce overhead effects by directing sound at the ceiling. It then reflects off the ceiling and down to your seated position, creating the illusion of a true height channel while supporting Dolby Atmos or DTS:X content.

With just one subwoofer, you may find that the low end is overpowering in one part of your viewing area and thin in another. However, you can improve the bass frequency distribution by using two or more subwoofers or taking advantage of the integrated powered subwoofers in BP9000 tower speakers.

"When it comes to subwoofers, more is better," Eggers explained. "Adding a second subwoofer can reduce the impact of room-generated resonances and create a more uniform bass experience throughout the entire room."

 With Definitive Technology speakers, you can enjoy the precision and depth of object-based audio in a configuration that perfectly suits your available space and personal preferences.