What is a Height Effects Speaker for Home Theater?

Emerging audio formats such as Dolby Atmos®*, DTS:X® and Auro 3D® are taking surround sound to the next level by adding a height dimension to what has traditionally been a single plane of sound coming from all around a listener. Commonly referred to as “object based surround sound”, these exciting formats create the most realistic and immersive home audio experience available for movie, TV, music and gaming lovers through the use of Height Effects Speakers.

In the real world, we use the volume and directionality of sound to judge whether something is happening above and to the right, to the left and far away, or passing directly overhead. The same principles apply to height effect speakers in an audio system. Object based surround sound technology calculates which speaker needs to get what amount of sound to accurately convey the location of an object in space to create the most realistic experience possible. At its best, the result is spin-your-head and duck-for-cover effects that put you right in the middle of the action.

You may be wondering how height effects speakers are executed, given that very few speakers are designed to be mounted on the ceiling to project sound from overhead. The prevailing approach relies on a ceiling bounce method that beams sound towards the ceiling from below in hopes that it will perfectly reflect back towards the listening area. The problem is, ceiling bounce results are unpredictable because of room shape, ceiling design and a number of other factors so it only works under perfect conditions. Furthermore, ceiling bounce requires limiting the frequency response of a height effects speaker, which means compromised sound quality.

The other option, in-ceiling speakers, force users to settle for inferior sounding solutions that also require costly professional installation. Because there’s no speaker cabinet, in-ceiling speakers lack the awesome dynamics and detail to create truly immersive sound quality. For people seeking a state-of-the-art home audio experience, this compromise is unacceptable.

Ideally, sound emanating from overhead should be beamed directly at the listener from a full range speaker in a cabinet. With this philosophy in mind, SVS engineers envisioned an easy-to-mount, direct radiating height effects speaker for object based surround sound. The Prime Elevation hangs high on a wall and directly radiates sound down towards the listening area with no unpredictable ceiling bounce and no compromised sound quality. It’s optimized, angled front baffle, refined acoustics and full range dynamics make it the most effective and optimal height effects speaker solution available. The result, more head-spinning, more ducking for cover, and a stronger sense of being immersed in the action.

For a deeper dive into set-up and placement of height effects speakers, check out our Intro to Dolby Atmos blog post.

Have a question about height effect speakers, object based surround sound or something else? Ask it in the comments and our Sound Experts will reply promptly.

* Does not imply Dolby Labs’ endorsement.

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Apr 28, 2020