Why Does Youtube NOT Support Dolby Atmos?

Norvan Martin
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Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology that offers a cinematic experience for movies, TV, music, and gaming. However, users on YouTube are unable to use Dolby Atmos due to format issues. Youtube is designed for stereo output. This means any video that is uploaded to YouTube is set to 2.0 stereo for playback.

Youtube does not support Dolby Atmos. However, YouTube TV supports 5.1 Dolby surround sound audio and also launched a 4K- Ultra HD plus add-on package. YouTube has also added 5.1 Dolby surround sound to select streaming devices. 

YouTube does not support 5.1 surround sound or any surround sound in general. Check out our article on does YouTube supports 5.1 Surround to learn more.

Read on to learn more.

What is Dolby Atmos?

If you are hearing this term for the first time, this guide will help you demystify everything. As a simple explanation, Dolby Atmos is the proprietary audio format created to provide the same immersive 360° sound that you experience in a movie theater to your mobile device or living room.Dolby Atmos

When using Atmos, content creators such as broadcasters, sound mixers, and cinematographers can effectively use specific sounds precisely in the soundscape to help you hear the action as it should be.

The Dolby Atmos technology fools the human mind to think and feel like they are in the middle of the scene. This technology can reproduce the sound of something and make it appear like a bomb or big explosion or turn it into the small sound of a bee.

Before we go further, please note that this is different from having Chrome supporting 5.1 surround sound.

Does YouTube Music Support Dolby Atmos?

The entry of Dolby Atmos Music is pushing many audiophiles to consider wireless speakers for easy connection and high-quality sound production. For the last two years or so, the features to enjoy YouTube music through Dolby Atmos were there but only lasted for a short time and then disappeared.

YouTube is yet to bring the most coveted YouTube music to support Dolby Atmos. Currently, YouTube Music is set to utilize Stereo 2.0 only. Even if you have a multichannel or Atmos when getting uploaded, it’s encoded by YouTube when stored in their servers, and the re-encoding software can only provide stereo.

For Dolby Atmos to function on YouTube, they have to support 5.1, but it’s set to stereo mode.

There are rumors that it’s possible to stream using 5.1 on YouTube, but not clear how to do it. YouTube has been silent on this issue; however, there’s hope for audiophiles after YouTube promised to roll out Dolby Atmos for YouTube TV.

During the 4K Plus add-on announcement, YouTube confirmed that they were soon starting to avail of 5.1 Dolby audio capabilities. It will be available to all members whether on a paid plan or not.

Also, the point to note will not roll the 5.1 Dolby audio to all content as it’s available only when you are watching an on-demand video. We can only wait to see how this pans out in the coming days.

The only platforms using Dolby Atmos to stream are iTunes, Netflix, Amazon Prime Videos, Hulu, and Vudu.

Why YouTube Music Doesn’t Support Dolby Atmos

There are several reasons why YouTube has decided against using Dolby Atmos for its music streaming:

  1. Money Matters and Licensing: The rights to use Dolby Atmos come with a price, which isn’t cheap. For a big player like YouTube, rolling out Dolby Atmos to all its videos would be a costly affair. Google might rather spend that money elsewhere or create its version of 3D sound that doesn’t have those fees.
  2. What the Users Want: Not a lot of YouTube users are clamoring for Dolby Atmos. Most folks watch videos on simple headphones or their phone’s speakers, which can’t do justice to Atmos anyway. So, dropping a ton of cash on this tech may not make much sense for YouTube.
  3. Tech Hurdles and Playing Nice with Others: Getting Dolby Atmos up and running is no walk in the park. It takes a lot more work to get videos ready for Atmos, and this eats up time and resources. Plus, making sure that Atmos works smoothly on all the different gadgets and browsers YouTube is on could be quite the headache.
  4. The Big Picture: YouTube is all about being available to as many people as possible, no matter what gadget they’re using or how fast their internet is. They’re likely more interested in keeping things running smoothly for everyone than offering fancy audio that only some can enjoy.
  5. Thinking Strategically: Google might be playing it smart by skipping out on Dolby Atmos. They could have plans for other features that fit better with what they want to achieve, or maybe they’re cooking up their rival technology.
  6. All Kinds of Content: Let’s not forget, that YouTube isn’t just about music. Since only certain types of videos would benefit from Dolby Atmos, it’s not a game changer for the whole platform.

Why YouTube Hasn’t Adopted Dolby Atmos

Several reasons could explain why YouTube hasn’t hopped on the Dolby Atmos train.

    • Cost Issues: Implementing Dolby Atmos comes with a price. The licensing costs could be high, and YouTube might not see the benefit in spending that kind of cash when only a small slice of its audience might appreciate the advanced audio feature.
    • Technical Hurdles: Rolling out Dolby Atmos would require YouTube to upgrade its infrastructure, which is no walk in the park. Bringing this tech into play demands some serious work on both the software and hardware front, which YouTube might find too cumbersome to tackle right now.
    • User Demand: Let’s be honest, most people go to YouTube for quick video fixes or background music while they do something else. Crisp sound is great, but it shines in movies and music productions. Since a lot of what YouTube offers doesn’t need Atmos-level sound, the platform might not bother adding it for everyone.
    • Market Competition and Differentiation: Instead of fighting the audio quality battle, YouTube could be playing a different game. With Apple Music and Tidal flaunting top-notch sound as their ace card, YouTube may well place its bets on its diverse video library, creator content, and ties with the huge Google family.

In short, YouTube’s choice comes down to weighing up the expenses against the gains. They have to think about fees, tech barriers, what users want, and how they want to stand out in the crowd. It looks like they’re leaning toward focusing on other bits that gel more with what their massive mix of users is into.

Youtube TV Dolby Atmos

Recently, YouTube responded to their users by rolling out 5.1 Dolby surround sound support on YouTube TV.

The release provides users with a rich listening experience and improves their visual experience through 4K additional support. The introduction of YouTube TV Dolby Atmos only applies to on-demand content, plus it’s not clear if YouTube will be changing that soon.

Dolby Atmos Music Apps

Now, if you are an audiophile and plan to enjoy music on your smartphone, here are the apps you can use.

  • Tidal (Android)
  • Apple Music (iPhone)
  • Amazon Music (3D Audio)

You can access Tidal through their premium package that costs £ 19, 99 per month for Tidal. On the other hand, Apple Music is the normal standard £ 9.99 per month.

Dolby Atmos YouTube Apple TV

YouTube only supports stereo output on Apple TV 4K. However, you’ll find many videos claiming that you can access Dolby Atmos YouTube through Apple TV, which is impractical because YouTube is yet to support it. If you have an Apple TV and try to stream YouTube, here is what YouTube supports.

  • 4K > Positive
  • 8K > Positive
  • 16K > Negative
  • HDR10 > Positive
  • Dolby Vision > Negative
  • 60fps > Positive
  • 120fps > Negative
  • 1 Surround > Negative

So, if you’ve been trying to stream using your Apple TV, you can only get HiFi stereo or mono and nothing like Dolby Atmos. 

YouTube uses the video format of VP9, and Apple TV does not support that. So, this is something to watch and see whether Apple will consider in the coming future.

FAQs

Does YouTube support Surround Sound?

Luckily, YouTube TV is finally rolling out 5.1 Dolby surround sound audio support, which is overdue for many users’ prevalent requests. YouTube is launching a premium “4K Plus” service tier as well. New YouTube TV customers can get 4K Plus for $9.99/month for 12 months in an introductory promo offer.

Which Streaming Services Support Dolby Atmos?

As of August 2021, the following streaming services support Dolby Atmos. Please note that the list might not be exhaustive. 

  • Netflix – Supports 4K, HDR, and Atmos on its $18-per-month Premium plans
  • Amazon Prime – Supports 4K, HDR, and Atmos
  • Hulu – Supports 4K for on-demand video
  • YouTube – Supports 4K and HDR video.
  • Disney+ – Supports 4K, HDR, and Atmos.

Is Dolby Atmos Free?

Dolby Atmos is a surround sound technology from Dolby Laboratories and is free of charge as long as you purchase a device that is Dolby Atmos-enabled.  However, Dolby Atmos for Headphones costs around $15, equivalent to £13.89.

There is, however, a free 30-day trial, nonetheless, so you can see whether it’s worth paying for or not.

How Do I Get 5.1 Audio on YouTube?

YouTube currently supports stereo audio, but not multi-channel surround sound. Therefore, to get 5.1 audio on YouTube, you need to stream it from a device that supports surround sound like a Dolby Atmos AV receiver. Check out our article on the best budget Dolby Atmos receivers to learn more. 

Currently, YouTube does not support Atmos audio at all and has no plans of supporting the format on its website anytime soon.

Things will probably change as Dolby gets more popular with its Atmos technology but for now, we’re stuck without any way of getting Atmos on our videos just yet!

What is Secondary Audio on YouTube TV?

SAP is a technical term for audio programming in the second audio channel. It’s kind of like having an extra audio option for TV shows.

This option replaces the program’s original language with other languages.

It’s a terrific way to learn languages. It may be useful for people who want to watch TV shows in their native tongue from different countries.

Which is Better: YouTube TV or Hulu?

Choosing between YouTube TV and Hulu can be an extremely difficult task. Both are very good services, and both have their share of pros and cons.

The most significant distinction is the number of channels.

When comparing the total channel counts from our large list of the top 100 channels on each platform, YouTube TV wins with 78 entries, compared to 73 on Hulu.

How Can You Tell if a Song is Dolby Atmos?

Dolby Atmos is a codec that works very differently than traditional surround sound.

When you are listening to music it will feel as if the music is all around you instead of just coming out of your speakers.

Does YouTube support Dolby Vision?

YouTube is yet to support Dolby Vision metadata. The only format that YouTube supports is HDR10 or HLG. High Dynamic Range is responsible for handling brightness information of a dynamic range compared to SDR (Standard Dynamic Range) signals used for regular broadcasts.

It helps to reproduce shades in bright areas with blown-out highlights plus tones in dark places that tend to lose. It’s responsible for image reproduction that is depth and with three-dimensional effects that make viewers feel as if they are seeing

Hybrid Log-Gamma is a hybrid format responsible for enabling HDR image output similar to HDR10 plus Dolby Vision format. HLC can also express pictures with a well-balanced brightness on SDR and TV.

Many changes may come on YouTube, and probably Dolby Vision is one of them. For now, you can only wait to see when this realization will launch.

Where to Listen to Dolby Atmos Music?

Dolby Atmos’ music experience is something you cannot compare with any other form of quality music.

Unless for regular music users who rarely tell the difference in the quality of music. Today, various platforms bring onboard the Dolby Atmos experience to give their users the best and highest-quality music.

These are the platforms you can enjoy listening to Dolby Atmos Music.

  • Tidal
  • Apple Music
  • Amazon HD

All three platforms have labeled DA music differently. For instance, HD is 3D Audio Tracks on Amazon, while Apple Music calls it Spacial Audio, and Tidal calls it Dolby Atmos music.

They’ve used different names, but technology is similar to each other. This is a breakthrough not only for produced music but artists as well.

Does YouTube have Dolby Atmos Videos?

For now, YouTube videos are yet to be streamed using Dolby Atmos technology. But it seems the Dolby Atmos is very close after launching Youtube TV which allows users to stream their favorite shows using 4K.

The package is a paid plan costing almost $20 per month, an additional top-up of their standard plan is $65 per month.

They are adding 5.1 Dolby surround sound to their streaming devices, and the feature will only be available on selected streaming devices.

Conclusion

A platform like YouTube should make it easier for users to stream Dolby Atmos videos easily on any device. However, the introduction of Dolby Atmos on 4K TV seems like the beginning of a bright future. Let’s see whether YouTube will bring join its competitors while at the same time responding to their user’s needs.

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Norvan Martin is the founder of BoomSpeaker.com. He is a professional Electronics Engineer and is passionate about home theater systems and AV electronics. BoomSpeaker was created as an online hub to share his knowledge and experiences as it relates to home theaters and home audio electronics. My email: [email protected]  Connect on Pinterest and Linkedin