4K video is fairly standard on the premium tier for streaming services, but what about the premium sound track in Dolby Atmos?
You’re thinking of buying a new sound system, and there’s a good chance you want it to be Dolby Atmos. There are some startlingly good reasons why, and most of them are about immersive sound bouncing off the ceiling of your home, practically placing you in a bubble of directional and spatial sound.
Only there’s one catch: you have no idea where these Atmos soundtracks are going to come from.
You know it’s in movies, and you know it’s in some TV shows, but you don’t quite know where you’re going to get Dolby Atmos, only that you want it, and you want it bad.
No worries, because it can be found on select streaming services, you just have to know what to look for.
We’ll start this guide to Atmos on platforms with the obvious thing to look for, movies and shows, because that’s where the majority of Atmos love is. The spatial 3D sound that Dolby Atmos provides kicked off in films before making its way to the smaller screen, and that is where most of the love is if you’re keen to listen to 3D sound.
Netflix & Atmos
The first video streaming service most of us knew about was also one of the first to support Dolby Atmos, and can be found in select titles.
You’ll need to be on Netflix’s highest plan in order to make it happen, which is the one reserved for Ultra HD. Much like the 4K picture of Ultra HD, Dolby Atmos’ 3D sound is typically associated with soundtracks of 4K movies, so it makes sense that the two are tied together on Netflix.
However if you have that UHD premium plan, you should see support for Netflix’s Atmos titles, even if they don’t cover the entire Netflix library.
Stan & Atmos
Netflix isn’t the only streaming video provider to offer a 4K Ultra HD premium service, with Australia’s Stan included in that bunch.
However unlike Netflix, it doesn’t appear to support a Dolby Atmos layer in its soundtracks. We’ve seen support for Dolby Digital in the Stan library, but no Dolby Atmos as of yet.
At the time this story went live, Stan had yet to respond to whether Dolby Atmos was in planning for use on Stan, but right now, it appears to be 5.1 surround, but not the 3D sound. That could change, but right now, 3D sound isn’t part of what’s on Stan.
Disney+ & Atmos
At its launch, Disney+ was actually pretty vocal about what it did support, and Dolby Atmos was one of those things. There’s only one style of plan, with the $8.99 monthly (or $89.99 yearly) plan getting support for Dolby Atmos and 4K video.
You won’t find it everywhere, though the spatial 3D soundtrack is on recent movies, and even on some classic ones, as well. The entire Star Wars series of films has it, including the old original ones which were made at a time when Atmos wasn’t even a thing, telling you they’ve been remixed and remastered to support Dolby Atmos, while other Disney movies have it, too.
The range of films supporting Dolby Atmos goes back quite a bit, and it’s been used in Disney soundtracks for several years now, so you may find it in more than you expect.
The good news, though, is that Disney+ makes it really easy to find out whether the movie you want to watch has Dolby Atmos onboard: you simply look at the info screen and it tells you. W00t.
Amazon Prime Video & Atmos
Amazon’s arrival of streaming media in Australia comes with support for Dolby Atmos, though like the other services, it is very title dependent.
Like Disney+, there’s only one plan in Australia, and currently, Amazon Prime Video supports Atmos in select titles, including Jack Ryan and Susperia, and you can likely expect it on more as the service matures.
Much of what Amazon Prime Video has on its library is fairly old, so we wouldn’t expect the older titles to be Atmos-enabled, but the service does support Dolby’s 3D sound, which gives you at least one more service to turn to in order to get your 3D audio fix.
Apple TV+ & Atmos
Apple’s streaming media service Apple TV+ may just be gathering steam, but some of what’s on there already supports Dolby Atmos, evident in the information for each piece of content.
Again, like Disney+ and Amazon Prime Video, there’s only one plan, but it arrives with support for Dolby Atmos on select titles. We found it on “Mythic Quest”, and it’s there on other things to watch, as well. None of this should be surprising, though, as iTunes Movies supports Dolby Atmos, and we suspect Apple just treats this more as an extension of how that technology works, too.
Foxtel & Atmos
Australia’s last major cable service sure has a lot of content, but that content isn’t yet Atmos-enabled, at least as far as the team at Foxtel tells us.
However, while Dolby Atmos audio isn’t natively supported by Foxtel at this time, spokesperson for the company told Pickr that “the IQ3 and IQ4 [boxes] are capable of [sending] Atmos Audio to a customers’ home surround amplifier in the same way it does Dolby Digital audio on our HD and UHD channels”.
That means you might not be getting Dolby Atmos’ spatial 3D sound, but you may be getting a high surround sound mix all the same. It’s not technically the same thing, and means for the moment Foxtel customers miss out on the true Dolby Atmos soundtrack some of the TV shows and movies found on its network can be supplied with.
There’s also no word on when Foxtel will have Dolby Atmos support on board, but you can bet the moment we know, we’ll let you know, too.
Binge & Atmos
Australia’s latest streaming TV darling, Foxtel’s all-you-can-watch “Binge” service doesn’t have Dolby Atmos’ spatial sound at launch, with its people telling Pickr that it has Dolby Surround for launch, but that Atmos is something it will look at “down the track”.
Even though there are three plans from $10, neither supports Dolby Atmos at this time. It means that if you’re expecting to watch Game of Thrones on the Binge service with the full Dolby Atmos stream just like Dolby has delivered on Blu-ray, you won’t find it on Binge, at least not yet.
YouTube & Atmos
Not strictly a streaming service in the way most of us think of one, YouTube is probably the world’s biggest streaming service given what it shows, which is pretty much everything. Granted, it’s not typically used for big movies and TV shows, but it still can be used for that style of content, too.
What’s more, YouTube typically supports new audio and video formats, and more quickly than other platforms.
So does YouTube support Dolby Atmos? Yes, it seems to, though finding out if the video you’re watching does indeed offer an Atmos soundtrack doesn’t appear to be overwhelmingly easy.
Given that most of YouTube was likely shot without spatial sound, you can probably bet that much of what you watch on the streaming service hasn’t been made to service your extra upward firing speakers. That’s fine.
As for the extra content that does, you can expect YouTube’s audio codec support to deliver 3D sound when it exists if your TV supports it.
Dolby Atmos in music
It’s not just movie platforms that deliver the Dolby Atmos love, mind you. If you’re keen to listen to spatial audio in newly mastered music tracks, you can find a depth-driven delivery of audio that you can groove along to.
Tidal & Atmos
The first of the music services to launch with Dolby Atmos support, Tidal’s HiFi plan offers access to tracks with spatial audio, and these even work through an Apple TV connected to a sound bar.
Apple Music & Atmos
Unless you happen to be a subscriber to Apple Music, which added support for Dolby Atmos music in June 2021.
Unlike Tidal’s approach, Apple Music bundles in the Atmos support with every account, so you’ll get spatial music whether you subscribe to the budget-friendly student plan, the singular plan, or a family account. It can even work on headphones with a wide soundstage, but plays quite well with proper Atmos-enabled sound systems, for sure.