The average Internet connection speed is increasing, and with Internet coverage becoming more and more ubiquitous, it is becoming increasingly common for consumers of entertainment to get their fix online through the likes of YouTube. But what about those consumers who want the best, most immersive experience possible? 4K streaming is already available through many streaming platforms, but what about sound?
What is Dolby Atmos? – Dolby Atmos has become the standard for immersive surround sound, having moved from cinema screens to homes and become affordable enough for the average audiophile to afford.
Of course, the fact that you have a Dolby Atmos system in your home doesn’t mean anything if you don’t have any Dolby Atmos ready content to play through it.
So, does YouTube support this immersive audio platform? No, unfortunately, YouTube does not support Dolby Atmos. Content uploaded to YouTube is compressed for bandwidth efficiency reasons, and all audio is reduced to standard stereo 2.0. The exception to this rule is YouTube TV, however.
What Is Dolby Atmos?
If you’ve been reading this so far and asking yourself “what is Dolby Atmos?”, don’t worry, we’ve got your back.
Dolby Atmos is a proprietary audio format created by Dolby to provide an immersive 360 degrees sound environment that is akin to what you’d experience in a cinema. The platform works with any number of compatible speakers (though a minimum of four is recommended) and is calibrated to the specific layout of the room and the speakers to provide the best fidelity and most immersive experience possible.
Of course, this experience is only available using content that is made to work with Dolby Atmos. The amount of available content is growing by the day, but it is far from ubiquitous.
Can YouTube Play Dolby Atmos
As of the time of writing this post, regular YouTube—that is the freely available YouTube where anyone can upload content—does not support Dolby Atmos nor has any plan been announced to support Atmos in the near future.
This is likely due to two main factors (though we’re speculating, of course). Firstly, the user-generated content aspect of YouTube’s business is one of the hardest to make profitable. You only have to look at the fact that the overwhelming majority of YouTubers have less than a thousand subscribers to see that the overwhelming majority of the content uploaded to YouTube is not profitable. If there are only a dozen people watching the content, it is not going to generate enough ad revenue to pay for the cost of storing and delivering it.
Adding the additional information required by Dolby Atmos means more data storage and increased bandwidth when someone streams the content, which means more expense for YouTube if that content isn’t making enough to pay for itself.
The other reason is the lack of demand for it from creators. Of all the users uploading videos to YouTube, only a minuscule fraction might be in a position to take advantage of support for Dolby Atmos. Leaving aside any technical challenges in creating Atmos content, how many YouTubers do you watch that need it? PewDiePie certainly wouldn’t gain anything from having Dolby Atmos audio.
Can YouTube Music Play Dolby Atmos?
Like the main YouTube platform, YouTube’s music streaming service does not support Dolby Atmos. Again, there is no word at the time of writing this post that YouTube plans to implement Atmos, but again, we find it unlikely that YouTube would go to the trouble.
While much of the music available on YouTube Music is made by professionals with music label backing, the vast majority of that music is not made to take advantage of Dolby Atmos. And, since there is an enormous catalogue of music available, it may be some time before Dolby Atmos-ready music makes up any kind of significant portion of the music on that platform. If ever.
Can YouTube TV Play Dolby Atmos?
Again, no Dolby Atmos here. YouTube TV brings us a little closer, however, as a new “4K Plus” tier providing 4K content and Dolby 5.1 surround sound was announced earlier this year. This isn’t quite Dolby Atmos, but it does offer a more immersive surround sound experience for those who have a compatible sound system.
Again, there is likely a return on investment factor at play here. Adding that additional Dolby Atmos information makes delivering the content more expensive for YouTube, and while YouTube TV is probably the most likely to be in a position to take advantage of Atmos, the majority of its content will still be Dolby 5.1 at best, or just plain stereo 2.0.
Will YouTube Add Dolby Atmos?
In the fullness of time, it is entirely possible that YouTube will start adding Dolby Atmos to its offerings—assuming Atmos isn’t replaced by a better alternative before that happens.
Granted, the vast majority of the content is still likely to not be made for Dolby Atmos, but as bandwidth gets cheaper and more available, it will represent less of a cost to YouTube to deliver it.
So, presently YouTube does not offer Dolby Atmos on any of its various services, and there doesn’t seem to be any intention to add those services in the near future. YouTube TV comes closest, offering Dolby 5.1 sound for 4K Plus users, but that is a service only available in the United States.
The reality is that the economics and a lack of realistic demand for Atmos make it a questionable business decision at this stage for YouTube, so there won’t be a real impetus to add the feature. This may be unwanted news for those precious few YouTube creators out there who can and want to make use of Dolby Atmos, but for the overwhelming majority of us, it doesn’t make much difference.
On the other hand, if you are reading this, not as a creator, but as a consumer with a shiny new Dolby Atmos system and you want some content to play through it, Netflix and Amazon Prime both support Dolby Atmos!
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!
2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos
I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. Learn new skills for FREE with Skillshare
I SUCK reading books to learn, but I LOVE online video courses.
Every month I learn something new. Editing, writing, video skills, how to cook, how to run a business – even how to meditate to calm a busy mind.
I find all of these for FREE with Skillshare – Sign up, pick all the courses you want and cancel anytime you need.
5. Shutterstock helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the Shutterstock website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.