Dolby Laboratories has unveiled a pioneering home theater technology, Dolby Atmos FlexConnect. This feature promises to revolutionize the way home audio systems are set up and calibrated. Promising both flexibility and simplicity, FlexConnect is set to make its debut in the upcoming 2024 TCL TV. The future also hints at other TV manufacturers supporting the new Dolby innovation.
How Does Dolby Atmos FlexConnect Work?
At the heart of FlexConnect is its promise to optimize Dolby Atmos audio output through the perfect synchronization between a TV’s built-in speakers and any paired wireless speakers in the room. The technology is platform-agnostic, meaning its operation is independent of a TV’s operating system. It could function on TVs using Google TV, Roku, or any smart TV software, given the TV is equipped with the latest Dolby multi-stream decoder.
Unlike the traditional connection methods used by Sonos or platforms like DTS Play-Fi or WiSA, which depend on a blend of compatible software and hardware connected over Wi-Fi, FlexConnect is neutral to connection type and hardware. Dolby has granted TV manufacturers, like TCL, the freedom to choose their preferred wireless technology, whether it’s Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, or any proprietary wireless system.
The unique offering of FlexConnect lies in its acoustic mapping feature, which uses the TV’s internal microphones. After speakers are positioned, the system undergoes an automatic calibration to understand each speaker’s location. It then combines this data with information on each speaker’s acoustic capabilities. This intelligent and seamless optimization of sound ensures an enhanced audio experience, adapting audio output based on both speaker location and capabilities.
Key Benefits of Dolby Atmos FlexConnect:
- Flexibility in Placement: Users have the freedom to place wireless speakers anywhere in the room, considering room dimensions, power outlet locations, and furniture layouts without compromising sound quality.
- Enhanced Audio Performance: The ability to connect accessory wireless speakers to a Dolby Atmos-enabled TV, elevating the overall audio experience.
- Quick and Simplified Setup: No extra equipment or cables are necessary. Dolby’s acoustic mapping automatically detects each wireless speaker’s location in the room and calibrates the entire system to ensure optimum audio performance.
- Intelligent Audio Distribution: The sound is intelligently spread from the TV speakers to each wireless speaker, dynamically optimizing based on each speaker’s capabilities and position.
Comparative Analysis with Existing Solutions
Dolby’s proposition for FlexConnect enters a market where several companies already have similar offerings. For instance, Sony has the Bravia Acoustic Center Sync, and Samsung boasts its Q-Symphony feature. Both these technologies, and several others, leverage TV speakers to augment soundbars or other external speaker systems. Yet, Dolby’s claim stands distinct, emphasizing an “intelligent optimization” of sound, considering factors such as room layout and speaker positioning.
Furthermore, while several Dolby Atmos soundbars, from giants like Sony, LG, Samsung, Bose, and Sonos, have microphone-based calibration systems that echo what Dolby Atmos FlexConnect offers, they often limit the number of usable speakers.
Dolby has refrained from asserting that FlexConnect will be compatible with all wireless speaker brands. Features like Samsung Q-Symphony and LG’s Wow Orchestra tend to lock users into specific brand ecosystems. However, the prospect of platform-agnosticism could render FlexConnect considerably more valuable.
While the immediate future sees Dolby Atmos FlexConnect featuring exclusively in TCL’s 2024 TV lineup, if Dolby manages to extend this feature across a spectrum of TV brands, it could redefine home theater audio setups for the everyday user. A live demonstration of FlexConnect will be showcased at the IFA 2023 trade show in Berlin. For those keen on deep-diving into TCL’s take on Dolby Atmos FlexConnect, details will be available during TCL’s global flagship product launch. Catch the launch live on YouTube at 2 p.m. CEST on August 29.
In summation, Dolby Atmos FlexConnect represents a substantial leap forward in home audio technology, with the potential to streamline audio setups, ensuring premium sound quality irrespective of room size, furniture arrangement, or speaker positioning. The audio world is undoubtedly keenly watching, awaiting further developments and broader implementations of this technology.