Dolby Laboratories has introduced Dolby Atmos FlexConnect. This system can make it easier to set up home theater audio configurations. If a television supports the system, the Dolby Atmos audio output between the TV speakers and wireless speakers connected to the TV can be optimized. The feature was announced with working setups on TCL TVs, but it should be widely usable if other TV brands can be persuaded to sacrifice a model for it.
FlexConnect must adjust and set the audio configurations at home depending on the amount of connected speakers and where they are placed. The system works with Atmos, 5.1 and stereo sound. It is designed to improve situations where speaker placement may be somewhat limited and deficient due to space constraints, furniture placement or a simple lack of an electrical outlet. The idea is that the configurations are arranged so that the sound sounds the same everywhere in the room, no matter where you sit or stand, and that the sound itself is also adapted to the location and capabilities of the audio equipment.
After a speaker is placed, the TV will go through an automatic calibration round that maps the acoustics and understands the location of the speaker. The microphones in the televisions are used for this. Once the TV has also acquired the acoustic capabilities of the speaker, the data is combined to adapt the sound image to the new situation.
An example given by Dolby is about bass reproduction, which television speakers do not always have in good measure. If a more capable speaker is installed for bass, the TV will direct the bass more towards that speaker, allowing the TV speaker to use its power for parts of the spectrum where it is capable, for example dialogue. You then get the situation that both speakers do what they are most suitable for in those specific circumstances. Another example involves speaker location in the story. If there are two wireless speakers at the back of the room, FlexConnect will throw more of the “audio load” over the television speakers, so they cover more of the front soundstage and dialogue. However, if the wireless speakers are in the front of the room, the TV / center speakers would focus more on dialogue.
The problem with the system should be clear: platform agnosticism. That is not so obvious. Many brands swear by their own stuff and solutions. However, a major advantage of the Dolby system is that no cables are required.
At IFA in Berlin, which starts on Friday, the system will be on display in full in demo setups.
Sources: Dolby, Ars Technica
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