The technology behind Dolby Atmos is impressive. Instead of mixing sounds to individual discrete channels - the left, right, centre, left surround, right surround and subwoofer of a typical 5.1 mix - Atmos turns those sounds into objects. Those objects are assigned an XYZ coordinate inside a virtual 3D space, allowing them to be swirled around listeners and positioned above or below them in vast speaker arrays that number as many as 64. Which is all well and good for the cinema. But getting Atmos set up at home is a far greater challenge.
Soundbars have picked up some of the slack, using their speaker-array wizardry to bounce sound around a room via flat, reflective surfaces without the need for separates. In the right hands, the effect is impressive, though not without its faults. The other option, if you already have a 5.1 or 7.1 surround setup and an Atmos-capable receiver, is to add up-firing speakers from the likes of Dali or KEF. These bounce sound off the ceiling to add height, without the need to mount speakers directly to the ceiling. But what if you want something that works out-of-the-box and sounds a great deal better than a soundbar?
Meet the Focal Sib Evo 5.1.2
That’s where Focal comes in. The famed speaker company - known for its outlandish and terrifyingly expensive Sopra speakers - is one of a tiny minority that’s created a full, 5.1.2 Atmos speaker package, building the up-firing speakers into the front left and right satellites. While certainly not a budget offering, the Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 package isn’t eye-wateringly expensive either. At £1,099 from UK retailer Sevenoaks, the Sib Evo is a surprisingly affordable setup from such a prestigious manufacturer, which is made all the more impressive when you dig into the specs.
Suitable for rooms measuring 10 to 50 square meters, the Sib Evo package is made up of five petite satellite speakers with front-firing 2cm soft dome tweeters and 13cm Polyflex drivers. The front left and right speakers also contain 10cm upward-firing drivers on top for Atmos effects. They’re paired with a small but powerful Cub Evo subwoofer that’s equipped with an eight-inch speaker driver, 200W Class D amplifier and MDF structure. The system’s small size and discrete styling makes it ideal for those that would rather avoid overbearing speaker setups, without sacrificing sound quality.
The Focal Sib Evo Dolby Atmos 5.1.2 package is available now from Sevenoaks at £1099. If you’re starting from scratch without an amplifier, there are some big savings to be had too. A package with the Sib Evo and the award-winning Sony STR-DN1080 Atmos receiver costs £1399, a saving of £249 over the separate purchase price.