Home cinema amplifiers and AV receivers are the powerhouse behind all proper home cinema systems. When it comes to performance, an AV receiver driving a passive speaker setup is still the best solution for a true home cinema experience.
It's important to choose an AV receiver or multi-channel amplifier setup that can power the required number of channels. It is also worth considering that you might want to expand your system in future with more speakers, so consider selecting an amplifier which has spare channels in case your system grows. A basic AV amplifier will power 5 surround sound speakers, whereas more complex systems, especially Dolby Atmos ones, will need 7, 9, 11 or even 13 channels of amplification.
Surround sound systems are classified by a series of numbers, eg. 5.1.2. Here is an explanation of what these numbers actually mean...
1st Number = Main Speaker Channels. In this case 5 (front left, centre, front right, surround left, and surround right).
2nd Number = Subwoofers. In this case there is one subwoofer. Larger systems may use 2 or even 4 for ultimate room filling bass.
3rd Number - Atmos Channels. Typically home cinemas use 2 or 4 Atmos channels to provide overhead atmospheric effects.
As the subwoofer is never powered by the AV amplifier directly (most are active), a 5.1.2 Dolby Atmos system would require a minimum of 7 channels of amplification.
Dolby Atmos is the next generation of surround sound audio. It delivers a more immersive spatial audio experience which is similar to that used in movie theatres. This helps create cinema-like sound in the home. Dolby Atmos is becoming increasingly popular with streaming services for movies and music.
As a result, we recommend Dolby Atmos speakers for the majority of systems. While some products offer angled Atmos speakers that can be installed at the front or rear to minimise installation time, the only true Atmos systems are those with downward firing in-ceiling speakers (sometimes referred to as the 'voice-of-God channels'). For the most accurate and immersive Dolby Atmos experience, in-ceiling speakers are essential. Please see the Dolby website for further details on Dolby Atmos Speaker Setups.