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Home / Tips and Tricks / Amazon Echo Studio does Dolby Atmos: what music fans should know

Amazon Echo Studio does Dolby Atmos: what music fans should know



  beatles-abby-road

Apple Records

It is 50 years ago that one of The Beatles most popular albums, Abbey Road, was released. To celebrate this, Apple Records (no, not Apple) is releasing the recording today in Dolby Atmos surround ̵

1; first on disk and later via streaming. And where can you listen to this new performance of one of & # 39; the world's best records? On an Amazon Echo of course. Just ask Alexa.

Amazon & # 39; s Echo Studio becomes the first voice-activated smart speaker that allows users to listen in compelling Dolby Atmos and Sony & # 39; s 360 Reality Audio formats. The $ 199 Studio, which comes on November 7, is now the flagship speaker in the Amazon Echo line and stands out from competitors such as the Sonos One ($ 198 at Amazon) Google Home Max ( $ 299 at Walmart) and Apple HomePod ($ 299 at Walmart) with a number of new features. The largest of these is Atmos support.

At launch, Echo Studio owners can stream Dolby Atmos music content via the Amazon Music HD service, which starts at $ 13 a month. In addition, users can also connect to select TV & # 39; s and also listen to Atmos movie soundtracks. Whether those extra & # 39; s matter to music fans is, however, an open question. This is what we know so far.

What is Dolby Atmos?

Immersive surround format Dolby Atmos has been with us for five years and has become synonymous with "height effects in movies", along with the competitive format DTS: X . Although Dolby's format is bound to Blu-ray for most of that time, it is now also available on many streaming services and devices . Physical media are damned!

Now Atmos appears on more and more devices, including soundbars smart TVs and even telephones such as the Galaxy S10 and OnePlus 7 Pro . The Echo Studio is the first musical speaker to support the format.

  amazon-event-092519-echo-studio-speaker0824 "data-original =" https://cnet4.cbsistatic.com/img/TEeMRvUdJzzuz1KQy6wOUyKolqw=/2019/09/25/6875b486-4f97-4690-be84-7937ac34cd12 /amazon-event-092519-echo-studio-speaker0824.jpg cialis19659010Buchamazon-event-092519-echo-studio-speaker0824 cialis19659011 23: A "naked" image of the drivers of the Echo Studio including a ceiling woofer </p>
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James Martin / CNET

How can the Echo Studio place surround?

Although it is only one speaker, Amazon has built in better surround chops, at least on paper, than Sonos, Apple and Google. In addition to the left and right woofers and a single tweeter, the Studio has a ceiling woofer designed to bounce effects back on you. Crucially, the speaker also performs an auto-calibration routine that should help it adjust to your space and enhance height effects.

Other Echo Studio functions include the speaker's ability to pair in stereo and, which is arguably more useful when it comes to Dolby Atmos, pair with a Fire TV device for an AV-ready system. You could even add an Echo Sub ($ 130 with Amazon) to make a good substitute of $ 500 for it. Of course, other smart speakers also offer options for stereo coupling.

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The Echo Studio is announced at the Amazon event


James Martin / CNET

At Amazon & # 39; s packed event this week the company showed off the Echo Studio and praised its ability to play 3D audio effects. Although I did not hear the speaker, my colleague Ry Crist later commented that the demo was "loud" and Ben Fox Rubin went on and said, "I listened to Rocket Man in a room and the guitar shot right over my head." I look forward to testing it myself.

What music will be available in Atmos?

When the Echo Studio goes on sale in November, albums from Bastille, The Beatles, Billie Eilish, Elton John, Lady Gaga, Luciano Pavarotti, Marvin Gaye and The Weeknd are available for streaming.

Apart from that, Dolby claims that his collaboration with Universal Music Group "will deliver thousands of new songs, current hits and legendary tracks … and a wide range of genres, including hip hop, pop, rock, country, jazz and classical music & # 39 ;, and that it works with other labels and artists to expand the catalog Is surround music something?

There is certainly enough hyperbola around music (ahem) in compelling formats – for example Dolby & # 39; s bombastic press release said, "Music has changed forever," following Neil Young & # 39; s own comments about Amazon & # 39; s Music HD service, announced last week.

Surround music is not new. For example, Dolby Atmos debuted in 2014 with a version of Enrique Iglesias & # 39; Bailando, and since then there have been Atmos releases in dribs and drabs, including the last three remixed and remastered Beatles albums and REM & # 39; s Automatic For the People [19659005] Just like Abbey Road, the original quadraphonic sound appeared on reel-to-reel tape in 1969. But quadraphonic never started and only in the 90s did surround-sound speakers become commonplace in the house. Surround sound music was restarted in early 2000 with the release of DVD-Audio, SACD and even DTS music discs. As we know, this attempt at a quadraphonic reboot was not too successful.

Fast-forward for many years, and I was lucky enough to attend a listening party for the remixed Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band with a monumental system, Elvis Costello and 100 of my closest audiophile strangers. I have never liked the album as much as Abbey Road, but listening was a very emotional experience. In which format did producer Giles Martin play it? No, it wasn't Dolby Atmos, and it wasn't vinyl either, but straight hi-res stereo. As audiophiles like to say about surround music: "You only have two ears."

Love is all you need

Music based on Dolby Atmos will probably not change the world, and that is partly because the number of stereo albums will always be greater than the number produced for Atmos. That said, I think the integration of Amazon Echo Studio with Fire TV is likely to push the needle for Atmos in general. I think many people can find a smart Dolby Atmos TV system that costs $ 400 attractively. The Vizio SB36512-F6 Atmos soundbar costs about the same and sounds excellent, but it has no Alexa.

In the typical Amazon way, the Amazon Echo Studio offers numerous intriguing options for an aggressive price. If the speaker can sound so good or better than the Sonos One my current smart speaker for Editors & Choice, that's reason enough to buy it there. Hearing ringo & # 39; s cymbal coming from heaven is just an extra bonus.


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