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HomePod will soon play Dolby Atmos soundtracks from Apple TV 4K

HomePod will soon play Dolby Atmos soundtracks from Apple TV 4K
(Image credit: Apple)

There's an update coming for the Apple HomePod, and word is that it will add home cinema sound to the Siri smart speaker's list of skills. When paired with Apple TV 4K, the HomePod will be able to decode Dolby Atmos tracks, as well as 5.1- and 7.1-channel audio.

According to The Verge, Apple has already confirmed that these features are on their way to the Apple HomePod in the near future but, sadly, not the recently announced Apple HomePod mini, which doesn't have the same spatial awareness ability.

We look forward to seeing how Apple's 'Home Cinema with Apple TV 4K' processing creates the promised 7.1 and 5.1 effects. Doubtless, the 360-degree arrangement of the HomePod's seven tweeters and single upward-firing woofer will help with the sense of surround and the height that Atmos demands.

While you may think it seems a bit improbable that such TV sound will be much to write home about, there are plenty of soundbars that manage to do some very successful things with surround virtualisation. What's more, the Amazon Echo Studio already offers something along these lines, offering a height-inclusive 3D soundstage that is pretty effective.

Apple has implied that these effects will work best when two HomePods are used as a stereo pair, however Atmos will still be possible with just the one device.

The Dolby Atmos update comes as part of a push for better communication between Apple's smart devices. We'll update you when it lands. 

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Dan Sung

Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.