Dolby’s Potential Breakthrough: Enhancing the Audio Quality of Integrated TV Speakers

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Dolby is on the verge of revolutionizing the Dolby Atmos experience, making it remarkably adaptive and immersive like never before. Today, the company introduces the groundbreaking Dolby Atmos FlexConnect – an innovative feature designed to seamlessly harmonize a TV’s sound system with auxiliary wireless speakers, resulting in an expansive and immersive Dolby Atmos experience. What sets FlexConnect apart is its clever integration of the TV’s built-in speakers, negating the need for a central soundbar. The announcement marks TCL’s pioneering move as the first TV manufacturer to incorporate FlexConnect into its upcoming 2024 TV line-up. In addition, TCL intends to unveil a range of wireless speakers carefully optimized to complement and amplify this revolutionary feature.

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FlexConnect, according to Dolby, represents an evolution in sound optimization, intelligently adapting to different room layouts and speaker configurations. A notable aspect is the freedom it offers to place one or more wireless speakers anywhere in the room, alleviating concerns about precise placement. The setup process is greatly simplified: using the TV’s integrated microphones, Dolby fine-tunes the position and calibration of each wireless speaker throughout the room.

FlexConnect’s sophistication lies in its ability to dynamically disperse sound from the TV’s speakers to its wireless counterparts, adjusting the audio signal appropriately based on each speaker’s capabilities and spatial orientation. This is particularly beneficial when the TV’s built-in speakers struggle to reproduce the lower frequencies, which Dolby Atmos FlexConnect readily delegates to the wireless speakers, avoiding strain on the TV’s internal drivers. While a sense of anticipation and curiosity lingers, Dolby’s decision to show off this groundbreaking technology at IFA this week adds to the excitement, with the hope that first-hand previews will shed light on its capabilities.

Essentially, FlexConnect allows users to optimize their listening environment, incorporating room dimensions, electrical outlet placement and furniture arrangement without compromising sound quality. Still, questions about real-world performance remain. Could there be potential latency issues or audio dropouts? Could this deter individuals from investing in a prominent Atmos soundbar placed front and center under the TV? Notably, the TVs themselves often struggle to convincingly replicate treble effects, an aspect where the soundbar’s absence could be noticeable. However, the placement flexibility afforded by wireless speakers allows for creative configurations that potentially alleviate these concerns.

Historically, brands like Samsung, LG and Sony have tried to sync sound between their soundbars and TVs for a more immersive listening experience. Samsung has dubbed this feature Q-Symphony, while Sony’s flagship HT-A9 7.1 Atmos system provides increased flexibility in speaker placement. It seems that Dolby is ready to address both aspects with the introduction of Dolby Atmos FlexConnect.

However, it is important to note that this feature requires a brand new TV along with the purchase of compatible wireless speakers. This factor may limit immediate adoption for those who have recently invested in 4K HDR TVs. However, as the trajectory of technological progress continues, the increasing convenience of Atmos and wireless surround sound may make those concerns moot by the time the next TV upgrade rolls around.