Dolby has unveiled a game-changing audio technology at Berlin’s IFA trade show – the Dolby Atmos FlexConnect. This innovative system allows users to wirelessly connect compatible external speakers to their TV, creating an Atmos-enabled spatial audio setup without the constraints of precise speaker placement. The technology promises to revolutionize home entertainment audio, and TCL is set to be its launch partner, with the technology slated to debut on its 2024 TV lineup.
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The Flexible Speaker Placement Advantage: One of the standout features of Dolby’s Atmos FlexConnect is its flexibility when it comes to speaker placement. Unlike other systems that demand perfect symmetry, Atmos FlexConnect allows users to position external speakers anywhere in the room, seamlessly integrating them into their existing living space. Whether you choose a bookshelf, a side table, or any other spot in your room, the system is designed to accommodate this asymmetrical arrangement, making it incredibly user-friendly.
The Demo Experience: My firsthand experience with Dolby Atmos FlexConnect took place at TCL’s booth during IFA. As the launch partner for this groundbreaking technology, TCL plans to introduce it on its 2024 TV lineup. The demo commenced with a calibration process where the two Atmos FlexConnect speakers emitted test tones. The TV’s microphones picked up these tones to determine the speakers’ locations and optimize audio performance according to the room’s acoustics. Technically, Atmos FlexConnect can connect with multiple speakers simultaneously, but the specific hardware within TVs may limit the number. TCL is initially planning to support a maximum of two external Atmos FlexConnect speakers on its 2024 TV lineup, with more affordable models potentially accommodating just one external speaker.
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The Audio Showcase: During the demonstration, TCL and Dolby showcased the technology’s prowess using a quasi-stereo speaker arrangement. Two speakers were placed in the front, though not symmetrically. The calibration process took slightly over 12 seconds, after which the TV displayed the two speakers’ positions in the room. These prototype “Tutti Choral Speakers” each featured five drivers, including two upfiring ones to recreate overhead sounds. Keep in mind that these speakers are still undergoing design and configuration refinements before their official release next year.
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As the demonstration began, Dolby’s standard Atmos demo reel filled the room with immersive audio. The reel included forest sounds, rainfall, and thunder, showcasing the significant audio enhancement compared to TV audio alone, particularly in the bass department. The audio felt expansive, exceeding the capabilities of standard stereo setups.
Unlike traditional soundbar configurations where a TV disables its built-in drivers, Atmos FlexConnect is designed for both internal and external speakers to complement each other. This synergy ensures that the audio remains centered despite the slight asymmetry in speaker placement.
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