Dolby Atmos is an object-based surround sound format that supports height channels, which means sound can come from above your head. This results in an even more immersive listening experience, since, depending on your home theatre setup, you can hear sounds coming from all directions. Many 4k Blu-rays, and even some streaming services like Netflix, support Dolby Atmos — but not all soundbars do. The ones that do tend to be more expensive than most, but if you're after a more natural listening experience, they're worth considering.
Note that soundbars usually use up-firing speakers to simulate an illusion of height by bouncing the sounds off the ceiling, back to the listener. This won't be as accurate or immersive as down-firing speakers with a more traditional home theater setup.
We've tested over 25 soundbars so far, and below you'll find the best Dolby Atmos soundbars to buy in 2019. See our recommendations for the best soundbars, the best soundbars for music, and the best soundbars with a subwoofer.
The best Dolby Atmos soundbar we've tested so far is the Samsung HW-Q90R. It's a great soundbar that comes with not only a subwoofer but also two satellite speakers that you place behind you for a real surround sound experience. The whole setup feels very well-made and comes with lots of connectivity options, including wireless playback via Bluetooth or WiFi.
This soundbar has an impressive frequency response, with the best low-frequency extension we've measured yet. This means it can accurately deliver the deep thump and rumble you'll find in a favorite action movie or hip-hop track. It has an otherwise very neutral sound profile, so it's good for other genres of music as well as TV shows and can get very loud with little compression or distortion.
The soundbar setup uses up-firing speakers on the bar and satellites to help reproduce the unique height feature of Atmos content. While it does a decent job, objects in the sound image are diffused and don't sound as real as they would with dedicated down-firing speakers. That said, it's still much better for Atmos movies than your TV's integrated speakers, and is among the best soundbars we've tested overall.
If you're looking for something that has good performance for movies but is more affordable than the Samsung HW-Q90R, then get the Vizio SB36512-F6. It's not as well-built and sleek-looking as the Samsung, but its Atmos performance with movies is quite impressive for the price. It even has a better-balanced sound, but doesn't get very loud unfortunately. The audio output of Atmos content is noticeably lower than the other sounds coming from the soundbars speakers, so the illusion of height might not feel as immersive. On the upside, it delivers accurate sound and supports pretty much every audio format over its full HDMI In ports, other than DTS:X, but you'll be able to play 5.1 lossless formats, which is great.
If you want the best Atmos performance and the best immersive experience a soundbar can provide, get the Samsung. However, if your budget is limited and you're looking for something a bit more affordable that can still make your movies more immersive, go for the Vizio.
If you don't have space for separate rear speakers and would prefer a 5.1 setup that just comes with a bar and a subwoofer, then get the Samsung HW-Q80R. As you might expect, it doesn't provide the same surround experience of the Samsung HW-Q90R, but it's still a great option if you want a Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar for use at home. It sounds just as balanced and has all the same great connectivity options, like 2 full HDMI-in ports, HDMI ARC, and optical-in. However, it doesn't have a regular audio jack, so you can only play content from your phone or tablet wirelessly. On the upside, if you like this bar enough, it's possible to purchase two additional rear speakers. However, note that this soundbar's rear speakers aren't the same as the Q90R's and don't have up-firing drivers on them, meaning it won't provide the same height illusion.
Get the Q90R if you have room for a 7.1 soundbar setup, but if you're tight on space and would rather save a couple of bucks, then go for the simpler 5.1 Q80R.
The best standalone Dolby Atmos Soundbar we've tested so far is the Sennheiser AMBEO soundbar. It has 13 speakers integrated directly into a single soundbar and features a neat 3D audio mode which helps sound feel like it comes from over and around you. The result is an impressively immersive experience for a standalone soundbar.
With the AMBEO mode disabled, the soundbar's frequency response is sub-par: it struggles to accurately reproduce sounds in the bass range, so you'll find deep thump and rumble of explosions to be quieter than other frequencies at the same volume. This makes it sound a bit bright, but on the upside, it features a built-in parametric EQ so you can tweak the way it sounds to better suit your tastes. However, when using the AMBEO mode, the immersion is noticeably improved and the soundbar gives you the impression of height and surround sounds.
Not only is this Sennheiser soundbar the most expensive one we've tested, but it's also the largest. It's notably heavier than other soundbars and looks huge in front of your TV. If you don't mind the relative lack of bass and size, though, it's worth considering thanks to its unique 3D audio feature that pairs well with Dolby Atmos content.
The LG SL10YG is a decent soundbar overall but has poor Dolby Atmos performance. Its default sound profile is pretty good overall, with overemphasized bass and treble that can make music sound more exciting, but isn't ideal for TV shows. It feels very well-made, though, with a premium design and a couple of different customization features.
This soundbar has an overall great bass performance and will be able to recreate the deep thump and rumble from bass thanks to its dedicated wireless subwoofer. It also performs quite well at its max volume, but the bar seems to be limited when it comes to volume output, as it performs noticeably quieter than other models we've reviewed. Some people might also hear a bit of distortion on higher frequencies when pushing the bar to its limits. However, we don't expect people to use the max volume with real-life content, so this shouldn't be an issue for most.
Also, this soundbar has a V-shaped sound profile, with overemphasized bass and treble ranges. Some people may prefer this exciting sound signature, but it won't be the best for a more neutral or accurate listening. The sound profile also changes drastically with Atmos content: the bass seems lower than usual and there's a lot of detail missing in the treble range. On the upside, this soundbar seems to often be on sale, so it could be worth considering if you can find it at a good price, but note it won't be as good for Atmos content as the Samsung HW-Q90R or even the Sennheiser AMBEO Soundbar.
If you're looking for a Dolby Atmos-compatible soundbar set up with a regular audio jack at a decent price, then get the LG SK10Y. It's harder to find than the LG SL10YG since it's last year's model, but it's practically identical, so if you can get it on sale, you might find it provides better value.
You'll want to get the SL10YG if you prefer having a USB port on your soundbar to play files off of, but if you'd rather have a standard audio jack, you'll want the SK10Y.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best Atmos soundbars for most people to buy. We factor in the price (a cheaper soundbar wins over a pricier one if the difference isn't worth it), feedback from our visitors, and availability (no soundbars that are difficult to find or almost out of stock everywhere).
If you would like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews of soundbars with more than 5.1 channels. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. No soundbar is perfect. Personal taste, preference, and listening habits will matter more in your selection.
11/01/2019: Added the Vizio SB36512-F6 as a 'More Affordable Alternative' to the Samsung HW-Q90R.