Dolby Laboratories today unveiled Dolby Atmos FlexConnect, a tool that might make home theatre audio systems more adaptable and straightforward. According to the manufacturer, FlexConnect enables TVs that support it to optimise Dolby Atmos audio output between the TV’s speakers and any associated wireless speakers. Dolby is currently only unveiling the function in conjunction with forthcoming TCL TVs, although it may become available elsewhere.
Capabilities and Specifications
FlexConnect is about adjusting to people’s audio installations, with considerations for things like speaker quantity and positioning. It will operate with Atmos, 5.1, and stereo sound. The new function attempts to improve Atmos audio in circumstances where speaker placement is constrained by factors like room size, furniture, or outlet locations.
FlexConnect, according to Dolby, will allow users to hear the same experience regardless of where they are seated in the room, with audio being adjusted in accordance with the position and capabilities of each speaker.
FlexConnect’s ability to adjust audio based on speaker capacities is demonstrated by its ability to handle low frequencies, which many TVs find difficult. The TV’s speakers could “offload the bass to these speakers, which frees up power to allocate to other parts of the frequency spectrum,” according to a Dolby spokeswoman, if there is a more powerful speaker connected. The representative claimed that by doing this, “the TV speakers may be able to assign more power to conversation, assuring the optimal combination of bass and intelligibility.”
Additionally, Dolby gave an illustration of how FlexConnect may modify audio according to speaker placement. When two wireless speakers are placed in the back of the room, FlexConnect “will put more of the audio load onto the TV speakers so that the TV speakers cover the front soundstage and the dialogue.” However, the TV/center speakers would concentrate on dialogue if the wireless speakers were placed in the front of the room.
At this time, FlexConnect won’t be compatible with every brand of wireless speaker, according to Dolby. When we hear back from Dolby regarding the speaker brands that the feature will support, we’ll let you know. However, FlexConnect would be far more beneficial if it was platform-agnostic.
Simplifying the Home Theatre Audio
There are already similar TV features that tie you to a particular brand, like Samsung Q-Symphony, which synchronises audio with compatible Samsung TV speakers and Samsung soundbars, LG Wow Orchestra, which synchronises audio with LG TVs and LG soundbars, or Sony’s Acoustic Centre Sync, which (I think you get where we’re going with this) synchronises compatible Sony TV speakers with an external Sony soundbar or audio system and claims to help sound to sound better. FlexConnect, however, does not call for a soundbar linked by HDMI or optical cables, unlike other of those features, such as Q-Symphony.
If Dolby is successful in getting FlexConnect adopted by numerous TV manufacturers, it may someday simplify home theatre audio settings for casual consumers. However, as of right now, only TCL’s TV lineup for 2024 has committed to supporting FlexConnect. FlexConnect’s reach is constrained unless other TV manufacturers adopt it. The feature also depends on the TV’s built-in speakers, which can vary in quality between models but can be supplemented by external speakers.