Dolby Atmos FlexConnect could make immersive audio better and easier

Dolby is taking a different approach to immersive audio with its new FlexConnect technology. It aims to let consumers expand their Dolby Atmos-enabled TVs with wireless speakers without having to manually calibrate them to the room layout or speaker set up. Instead, the feature relies on what Dolby calls “intelligent auto calibration,” a process that uses built-in microphones inside a compatible TV to locate all the connected speakers and determine their sonic capabilities.

Once the system has all that information, it can automatically optimize audio to match a given room setup. That means that, for example, if there are two FlexConnect speakers at the back of a home theater, Dolby Atmos will assign more dialogue and effects to those speakers. That leaves the TV/center speaker to focus on delivering the more impactful soundscapes and dramatic moments in movies, shows and games.

As Dolby notes, this is a much more elegant solution to the sonic challenges of immersive surround sound. Surround solutions based on physical speakers positioned in front and behind the listener have been around for decades, but they’re usually uncomfortable, expensive to purchase and require a lot of work to get configured correctly. Moreover, many of them only work with specific speaker and TV combinations that have to be purchased together.

FlexConnect could solve all of these issues. Dolby says that, starting with its 2024 line of TVs and some upcoming Dolby Atmos-compatible wireless speakers from TCL, the company will include the tech in those sets. It will then be available as an option with a variety of TCL-branded speaker products.

The idea is that AV enthusiasts will be able to buy Dolby Atmos-compatible speakers and then connect them to their existing TCL TV, triggering the audio-optimizing process. The result, Dolby asserts, will be a premium surround experience that’s easy to configure and works well no matter where you sit in the room.

While Dolby isn’t planning on developing its own speaker hardware, it typically licenses its audio and video software to third party hardware manufacturers — a strategy that will apply in this case. That could open the door to an array of wireless speakers from Dolby’s partner companies that would be compatible with FlexConnect, giving consumers a range of affordable and easy-to-configure options for immersive home entertainment.

We’ll know more about the tech when TCL and Dolby reveal it at IFA in Berlin next month. Until then, you can check out Dolby Atmos in action at the company’s demo booth at this year’s show. It’s a pretty amazing technology, and you can also read about the latest in gaming PCs. Dolby Atmos is the world’s leading spatial audio technology that brings the magic of movies, music and more to your TV and speakers. It’s the difference between sitting in a movie theater and being at home, between watching Maroon 5 perform in concert and standing in your living room with your friends. Dolby Atmos makes the immersive experience more alive than ever before.