Forget Sony’s xLoud engine, forget Beats Audio, forget HTC’s BoomSound as Dolby is about bring their greatest development in sound for decades to Android smartphones and tablets, Dolby Atmos. Keen moviegoers will be familiar with Atmos, the revolutionary surround sound system that breathes new life into audio in theaters. It’s nowhere near as widespread as other surround sound solutions, but it’s only been around since 2012 and is only getting bigger and better. Dolby announced last month during Mobile World Congress in Barcelona that they’ll be bringing the surround sound solution to smartphones and tablets. As you might have expected, this will be more of a software solution, than it will be hardware.
Dolby have detailed that Atmos for mobile will rely on either a dedicated chip on the smartphone’s mainboard or through the use of a single ARM processor core. Much like the Dolby Headphones solution, Atmos for mobile will fool the user into hearing surround sound from any pair of stereo headphones, of course the higher quality the pair of cans, the better the effect. I have a pair of Dolby Headphones-powered gaming headphones for my PC and they sound excellent, so I’m pretty excited to see how this turns out. This isn’t a technology you should expect in the next wave of budget devices like the Moto G however, as Dolby have said that most future devices with a Snapdragon 805 would feature Atmos. As such, it would appear that creating 3D sound is a fairly taxing process, as we could have guessed.
Later this year, we should see devices with Dolby Atmos built-in and we wouldn’t be surprised if tablets were the first in line. After all, surround sound makes a lot more sense when watching movies and well, watching movies on tablets makes more sense than on your smartphone. That is unless you have a Galaxy Note 3 or something similar. Either way, 2014 is the year that sound is really getting an upgrade in high-end mobile devices and I’m pretty excited by that.