Does Dolby Atmos Work in a Small Room?

Older couple dancing in a small room

Small and big are relative terms. Most people imagine gigantic rooms whenever the word Dolby pops up in a conversation. What’s small to someone can be quite big to somebody else. Dolby provides surround sound no matter what kind of room you are in, be it small or big. 

Yes, Dolby Atmos works in small rooms. There are multiple ways to create a speaker setup for smaller rooms and the bulk of it has to do with the placement. With the ideal placement, you can adapt your Dolby setup to any room size. 

One of my friends stays in a rented apartment, which isn’t all that spacious. Nonetheless, they are a bibliophile, and having a full speaker setup is mandatory for them. I never would have guessed you could fit a full-fledged speaker system in such a small space. Fortunately for you, I helped him set up his room and will be sharing some of my insights about the setup process. So let’s begin. 

Are Dolby Soundbars enough for a small room?

It depends on personal preference. Soundbars have come a long way in the past decade and now deliver truly impressive surround sound quality, some full-fledged speakers cannot even match. They are easy to set up and a little bit cheaper than a full home theater setup.

If we are talking about only loudness, soundbars are sufficient. If we are talking about clarity, soundbars also deliver quite a respectable performance. These devices are in a league of their own. Even seasoned bibliophiles and artists who do not want to bother with a complicated setup process, often opt for Soundbars over a full home theater setup.

Moreover, an average person cannot distinguish between the audio quality of soundbars and a full-fledged audio system. Therefore, if you simply want a system that sounds good, does not take up much space, yet supports Dolby, a soundbar might be the right choice for your preferences.

Does a 3.1 Dolby Atmos music system work in a small room?

Yes, a 3.1 Dolby music Atmos music system is perfect for small rooms. Neither are they too loud nor too shallow. It is as if the 3.1 setups were destined for small rooms. 

The 3.1 system usually consists of a surround sound receiver, left, right and central speakers, and finally a subwoofer. This setup is way better than a traditional stereo because the sound separation between the left and right speakers is more clearly audible. The central speaker may appear discrete, but it plays a vital role for both movie and TV soundtracks, especially in small rooms. 

The audio is also quite audible and you will have to strain your ears to hear dialogues. The only distinction between a soundbar and a traditional 3.1 Dolby system is the AV receiver. Since it gives you a lot more power, you can crank the volume way higher without fearing any distortions. The dynamic range on these speakers is also quite commendable as it often picks up minute sonic details for a more lively hearing experience. 

It’s amazing how adding a central speaker can create such a difference. If you are interested, I recommend the Sony HT-G700 speaker. The company has always been one of the greatest pioneers of speakers and this particular model is perfect for small rooms. 

Sony HT-G700: 3.1CH Dolby Atmos
Sony HT-G700: 3.1CH Dolby Atmos

Does a 5.1 Dolby Atmos music system work in a small room?

A 5.1 surround system is more than enough for a small room. It adds two rear speakers for complete coverage of the ambiance. Together the setup provides exceptional three-dimensional spatial cues which pull you in as the action unfolds on the TV/Computer.

The best advantage of a 5.1 setup is the flexibility. You can even take it up a notch and add two Atmos-enabled speakers on top of the left and right speakers. The feeling of immersion that comes with the overhead sound effects is simply breathtaking, to say the least. 

Atmos-enabled speakers direct audio waves towards the ceiling. The waves are received after they bounce off the roof which makes for a wholesome audio experience, perfect for small rooms. However, note that Dolby Atmos technology does not mesh well with vaulted ceilings so if you have one, avoid burning money. Either change your room or stick with a 3.1 setup.

What are the best speakers for small rooms?

Slender-shaped central channel speakers and bookshelf speakers are best for small rooms. It is best if you measure the available space before buying the speakers. 

1. Center speaker– The center speaker mostly delivers the dialogue so place it immediately under or above the television. If your TV is at eye level try to palace the speaker directly at the level of your eye. This creates a powerful illusion that the voice is coming from the screen, which is one of the best advantages of having a small room. You feel as if you are getting dragged into the movie rather than observing it.

2. Right/left speaker– You should always place the left and right speakers so that the top part of them is at the ear level. Place them on either side of the TV, equidistant from the main screen and the central channel speaker. 

3. Rear speakers– The rear speakers should be situated at the back, maintaining the same distance from your seat as the front speakers. If you have a smaller room, then try placing them to the right and left of your seat. To maintain the same distance as the front speakers, consider placing them above the door or even near the ceiling.

4. Subwoofer– Unlike the main speakers, which must be directed at you, subwoofers generate Omni-directional low-frequency bass waves, which means you’ll hear and feel the bass no matter where you put it.

However, a subwoofer requires a clean airflow, so ensure that none of its openings — the front speaker or the open “port” found on the side, back, or bottom of most subwoofers — are obstructed. Because room dimensions can affect a subwoofer’s performance, experiment with subwoofer placement to get the greatest sound performance for your listening environment.

Bass drivers will be incorporated into floor-standing speakers, eliminating the need for a separate subwoofer. If your space has any speaker placement issues, you may use your AV receiver’s speaker settings to adjust and ensure that your surround system sounds equally balanced.


Dolby Atmos works perfectly in small rooms, but the trick is to create plans beforehand. For instance, the overall size, what kind of speakers you should buy, ideal placement all play a crucial role since you have very little room to work with. It’s best you hire someone who specializes in this line of work.

Hopefully, this article has assured you that Dolby Atmos does work in a small room. All you need to do is to get the right one. Good luck!

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Difference between Bluetooth versions

Rune Bearson

As you can see, I love my headphones! I use them every day when commuting, watching YouTube videos, playing guitar/piano and doing chores. I'm a podcast addict and I like all kinds of music from metal to chillout ambient.

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