Dolby aims to simplify multi-speaker Atmos immersion with FlexConnect
Rather than trail wires around the room for a home theater audio setup, Dolby's new technology pairs a big-screen television's own sound system with a bunch of wireless speakers spread out across the room – "transforming any seat into the best seat in the house."
"Consumers shouldn’t have to move their furniture to experience better audio, but rather audio should adapt to them," said Senior VP of Entertainment at Dolby Laboratories, John Couling. "Dolby Atmos FlexConnect is an entirely new category of experience that offers consumers the freedom and flexibility to choose how they want to arrange their devices while still getting a great immersive Dolby Atmos experience."
Dolby notes that commercially available sound systems for TV-centric immersive audio will inevitably be configured for optimum positioning within a living space, even if your room doesn't meet "reference" requirements. This means that a home theater setup will likely be somewhat lacking.
FlexConnect will allow folks to plonk wireless speakers anywhere in the room, and Dolby's technology "intelligently combines" the output from a TV's own sound system with any compatible audio devices in the room. Then acoustic mapping will make use of the TV's microphones to locate each wireless speaker and automatically calibrate the whole setup for optimal immersive delivery.
Of course, the technology won't be cooked into your existing TV so you'll have to buy a brand new, FlexConnect-enabled model to take advantage of this simplified Atmos setup. The first TVs to include the tech will be TCL's 2024 range.
And it looks like the FlexConnect compatible speakers won't be any old Bluetooth speakers either, with TCL announcing the tandem release of accessory wireless speakers to go with its new enabled televisions – which may deal with any potential latency or dropout issues over regular Bluetooth, but will obviously add to the setup cost.
"With Dolby Atmos FlexConnect, users can unlock incredible immersive sound no matter how they arrange their audio devices," enthused Frédéric Langin of TCL Europe. "We can’t wait to introduce the world to this new tailored sound experience with our upcoming lineup of TVs and accessory wireless speakers."
There are similar solutions for soundbars and TVs from the likes of Sony, Samsung and LG already on the market, or you could just stick with what you have and cable up your immersive surround sound experience. Dolby and TCL will demo Atmos FlexConnect at IFA 2023 in Berlin, which runs from September 1 for five days.