You Asked: Dolby Atmos and EDID, minimalist soundbars, and H…

In this installation of You Asked, resident expert Caleb Dennison answers your questions about why you can’t get Dolby Atmos from your streaming device, what’s a great upgrade from the Sony Z9D, and what’s the best Dolby Atmos soundbar under $500 ?

Dolby Atmos and EDID

The External Device Manager settings screen is displayed on the TV.
Zeke Jones /

Tim Looby wrote: In your Sonos Era 300 review, you mentioned star wars episode 7, via Disney+. I just went to watch those scenes on my arch/sub/300, [and] There is no Atmos enabled on this movie. It is listed as DDP+ 5.1. How do you even get height channels to work for any object placement, let alone precise channels? Am I missing something?

First of all, a Very Most content on Disney+ is available including Dolby Atmos star wars episode 7, If you don’t see this as an option, you probably have some settings that need to be adjusted. But, another possible culprit is that one of the devices in your setup does not support Dolby Atmos, possibly the TV or streaming device you are using. Or, as I said, they are not set up to enable Atmos. Either way, Disney+ will not show that you can receive Atmos, nor will it play an Atmos signal, unless it knows your system can handle Dolby Atmos.

How is this known? Well, this is a good time to talk about EDID. EDID stands for Extended Display Identification Data. This is a small informational message embedded in the signal traveling from one HDMI device to another HDMI device. For example, the EDID dictates how your Xbox Series Can’t do it – do it.

For example: If you have an older or budget-model streaming stick that doesn’t support Dolby Atmos, Disney+ knows that, whether that information comes from the streaming stick to the streaming stick’s Disney+ app, or the streaming Comes in the form of a message from a stick. TV’s Disney+ app.

The trick is to make sure that all components in your chain support Dolby Atmos. If your TV can’t pass it, or your AV receiver or soundbar doesn’t support it, Disney+ (as well as many other apps) will know, and it won’t bother trying to send that Dolby Atmos signal. Will not done. Thus, when you open a show you will not see it available on the title screen.

Time to upgrade?

Honey being dripped from a honey dripper displayed on the Sony X95L.
Zeke Jones /

Joe wrote: I was lucky enough to have two Sony Z9Ds. Should I upgrade to a newer TV such as the new Sony 77-inch QD-OLED, or a backlight master drive LCD, perhaps the 95-series or Z9K? I don’t think 8K is really necessary, but if the price is right, I’ll upgrade.

Sony Z9D was and Is An excellent TV. In some key ways, it still outperforms many midrange TVs you can buy today.

But you’re looking to upgrade, the QD-OLED or X95L is definitely the upgrade. While the Z9D was advanced for its time, even its successor, the Z9F, was a notable upgrade. Today’s X95L, X93L, or A80L will look much better in terms of speed, contrast, and color. Plus, the built-in smart TV system and the apps that run on it will all run better. I mean, it’s been seven years, I understand if you want to upgrade. When great TV performance is important to you, I think waiting five years, let alone six or seven, will definitely give you proper upgrade-itis. Not everyone can afford to upgrade so often, but if you can, do so. Anyway, going to a modern OLED is going to be a huge upgrade, and upgrading to the X95L will also make some pretty big improvements in picture quality. In my opinion, you are not thinking about taking a small step forward. The difference will be something that everyone in the house will notice. Hope that helps!

dolby atmos soundbar

Polk Signa S4 soundbar on a wall-mounted console table.

David Rodriguez wrote: I recently purchased a TCL QM8 75-inch. Now I would like a minimalist soundbar with a picture. I would prefer to have a soundbar and a subwoofer in place of rear speakers. Looking for an Atmos soundbar that will fit under my QM8 (currently on its stand). The budget is ideally under $500. Please let me know what you suggest.

Well, it would be hard to come up with a soundbar that meets all those requirements. The best Atmos soundbar under $500 for the Atmos effect is probably the Bose Smart Soundbar 600, but it doesn’t come with a subwoofer. The Yamaha YAS-209 and Klipsch Cinema 400 are both great soundbar/subwoofer combos that meet your budget, but the Atmos neither meets your budget.

I am going to recommend it Polk Signa S4, It’s quite thin, so I think it will fit under your QM8, it does Atmos very well, has solid audio fidelity, And Comes with a wireless subwoofer, but no surround speakers. It’s light on features, but you wanted the bare minimum, so it’ll probably be fine. It’s super plug-and-play. Overall, I think this is your best choice. And as a bonus, it comes in at less than $500. You can add a subwoofer to the Bose 600 and make it even better, but that will blow your budget.

HDMI 2.1 ports galore

Port section on the back of the AV component and HDMI 2.1 port.
Zeke Jones /

Aaron Smith asked: I’m looking to upgrade my TV, but I’m frustrated by the limited number of HDMI 2.1 sockets on Panasonic and Sony TVs. When I eventually upgrade my TV, I’ll connect my PC to one HDMI 2.1 input and a 4K Blu-ray player to the other.

If I connect a Blu-ray player to the TV through the soundbar, will it have any negative impact on the viewing experience? Or is it better to connect the player directly to the TV?

I’m very happy to answer this question because I hope we can put a brake on most of the unnecessary frustration and even outrage I’m seeing around a TV that has four full-bandwidth HDMI 2.1 ports. There are no ports.

Here is a perfect example. Aron is frustrated that both of his HDMI 2.1 ports are busy when he plugs in his PC and 4K Blu-ray player. In this case, despair is probably unnecessary. Why?

Because your 4K Blu-ray player doesn’t get any benefits from HDMI 2.1. Your 4K Blu-ray player can’t even scratch the surface of HDMI 2.0’s 18 Gbps bandwidth, let alone HDMI 2.1’s 48 Gbps. Everything that 4K Blu-ray can offer – 4K resolution, high chroma subsampling, HDR, Dolby Vision, uncompressed Dolby or DTS audio – it’s all delivered right through any of your HDMI ports.

So, you can connect your PC and game console to its HDMI 2.1 port, and plug your 4K Blu-ray into any remaining ports and be fine. Unless you’re going to run PC, Xbox Series X, and PlayStation 5, all on the same TV, you don’t need more than two.

But, if you want to connect your 4K Blu-ray player to the soundbar, it should have no negative impact on video fidelity. However, if you want the soundbar to act as an HDMI 2.1 input switch – well, good luck finding one that offers an HDMI input that’s HDMI 2.1 compliant. They are really rare animals.

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