Dolby has announced that Dolby Atmos-encoded music is now supported on Amazon’s HD music streaming plan and the $200 Echo Studio smart speaker Amazon plans to ship later this year.
Dolby worked with Amazon to create a music listening experience for its Echo Studio smart speaker that “pushes past the boundaries of the mono and stereo solutions found in most smart speakers today.”
Amazon says the Echo Studio, which will sell for $200 when it ships in early November, is the best sounding speaker in its Alexa-enabled Echo series. The compact speaker, which bears a resemblance to Apple’s HomePod, was engineered to deliver an “immersive, three-dimensional audio experience with Dolby Atmos.”
The speaker houses a 24-bit digital-to-analog converter (DAC), 330-watt (peak power) amplifier, and five drivers — a 1 inch tweeter, three 2-inch midranges, and a down-firing 5.25-inch woofer — in an 8-inch-tall cylindrical enclosure.
Until now the Dolby Atmos object-based surround-sound format has been used primarily to add dimension, including a sense of height, to movie soundtracks.
“Dolby Atmos music is a new experience for artists and fans,” explained Dolby president Todd Pendleton. “It opens a new creative palette for musicians to experiment and express themselves with their recordings.”
In a press statement, the company described Atmos music as a “way to connect with music at its fullest capacity and creative potential — not the way most people hear music today, but a version that pulls you into a song to reveal what was lost with traditional recordings…to discover hidden details and subtleties with unparalleled clarity.”
One or two Echo Studio devices can be paired with Amazon’s Fire TV Stick 4K or Fire TV Cube for multichannel playback in Dolby Atmos or Dolby Audio 5.1. The speaker also supports Bluetooth streaming and has a built-in Zigbee smart home hub that can be used to control compatible smart home devices.
The speaker is built for lossless music playback through Amazon Music HD and users can sample 3D music by simply saying, “Alexa, play the best of 3D music.” In addition to supporting Dolby Atmos, the speaker also incorporates Sony’s 360 Reality Audio processing. Amazon said immersive music will also be available through Tidal HiFi in 2020.
Dolby said it’s working with artists, mixers, producers, and record labels to expand the catalog of music available in Dolby Atmos. In May, Universal Music Group announced plans to release “thousands of new songs, current hits, and legendary tracks” in Dolby Atmos.