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Soundbars No Bar To Object-Based Surround

Dolby Atmos object-based surround debuted in A/V receivers and A/V preamp processors in the second half of 2014, and now Atmos-equipped soundbars are hitting the scene to tap into potentially larger demand.

Atmos licensor Dolby Labs sees the potential Atmos to spread to a wider customer base of consumers interested in the simplicity and cosmetic appeal of soundbars over the complexity of component-based audio systems and the clutter of multiple discrete speakers in a room. The soundbars will also extend Dolby Atmos to secondary rooms in the home or to small apartments with little room to accommodate separate component speakers and an AVR.

Dolby must also be eyeing soundbars’ rapid growth. Factory-level soundbar sales rose an estimated 33.6 percent in 2015 to $859 million, marking almost a decade of double-and triple-digit dollar growth, Consumer Technology Association statistics show.

At CES, at least three companies — Samsung, Gibson Innovations’ Philips brand, and Creative Technology — unveiled their first Atmos-equipped soundbars, joining a previously announced $1,699 YSP-5600 soundbar due in January from Yamaha.

Unlike the three newcomers, Yamaha’s soundbar also features DTS:X object-based surround. The YSP-5600 uses proprietary Digital Sound Projector technology and multiple angled drivers to bounce beams off sound off walls and ceilings to deliver height and surround channels.

The three newcomers are taking different approaches, but all feature upward-firing drivers required by Dolby to bounce height effects off the ceiling.