Dolby has in many ways, led the charge to bring a theater-like sound experience into private homes. However, there is not just one but many technologies that work in tandem to make this possible. Dolby is constantly working on new processing techniques to make audio better for everyone, regardless of the devices that you are using. This is where Dolby MAT comes in.
Dolby MAT encodes TrueHD or Digital Plus bitstreams and transmits the audio data to an AV receiver or soundbar via an HDMI cable. The final output combines lossless PCM audio with Dolby Atmos metadata. With Dolby MAT, users can get 3D surround sound with height effects even with PCM audio.
Just remember, for Dolby MAT to work, you must have an Atmos-supported speaker, and your source must be able to encode signals using Dolby MAT. Let’s look at how the MAT encoder works and which devices support it.
How Is Dolby MAT Different From Other Versions of Dolby?
Dolby MAT helps in encoding and decoding the Dolby TrueHD bitstreams for transmission between different devices. In a Blu-Ray player, it works as an encoder. Packing the Dolby TrueHD’s variable rate bitstreams, Dolby MAT helps transmit the data over a fixed bit-rate HDMI to the receiver.
A Dolby MAT decoder available at the receiving device unpacks these bitstreams to provide a Dolby TrueHD experience.
Apart from the support for TrueHD codec, this encoder/decoder also supports Dolby Atmos sound format. The improved Dolby Atmos 2.0 makes it possible to process Dolby Atmos metadata present within the conventional lossless PCM audio.
What’s fascinating is that the enhanced Dolby MAT 2.0 technology can encode the Dolby Atmos audio in real-time. That said, the bitstream transmission from the source employing Dolby MAT will take place without any noticeable latency.
It also eliminates the high processing complexity that prevailed in traditional analog to digital transmissions.
Like the Dolby MAT 2.0 encoder, the decoder is fast and processes data streams dynamically. Unpacking the Atmos object-based audio and its metadata inside the receiver unit, the Dolby MAT 2.0 enhances the processing to enable an immersive sound experience.
With an HDMI port on your devices, you can likely enjoy the full potential of the Dolby MAT 2.0 technology.
Which Devices Support Dolby MAT?
The most common devices supporting Dolby MAT encoding are Blu-Ray players, game consoles, and set-top boxes.
Supported devices include Xbox One X, Xbox One S, and Apple TV 4K (on Amazon). For other devices, check with the manufacturer or refer to the manual to find out if they support this technology or not.
Any source that supports Dolby TrueHD or devices that can process Dolby Atmos with Dolby MAT encoding the metadata would employ this technology.
How Does Dolby MAT Work?
Essentially, the Dolby MAT encoder’s job is to use the Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby TrueHD audio bitstream as its input. Later, the encoder pulls out the Dolby Atmos metadata from the input to output an LPCM audio signal with the Dolby Atmos metadata attached to it.
The output signal in the Dolby MAT format then passes to the receiver devices such as a TV, A/V receiver, or soundbar via HDMI cable.
The MAT encoder takes a Dolby Digital Plus or Dolby TrueHD audio signal that already has Atmos, changes the format, adds the Atmos information to that new format, then outputs it as Dolby MAT.
What Do You Need for Dolby MAT to Work?
To start with, your source must have a Dolby MAT encoder to transmit the Dolby TrueHD bitstreams. You can refer to your device’s manual to check for this information.
Furthermore, you need speakers or soundbars that support the Dolby Atmos sound format. These devices will act as receivers, decoding the signals further to process them as object-based audio for an immersive effect.
However, you must always be mindful of how you set up these devices. To achieve the best output experience, always remember to connect the source device directly to your Atmos-enabled audio system.
For instance, if you want to use your Blu-Ray player with your TV and soundbar, you must connect the Blu-Ray player to your soundbar instead of the TV. The video out from the soundbar will connect to your TV.
The same goes for the Xbox One and PS4. Even when connecting the Apple 4K TV featuring Dolby MAT encoder, connect the device to the Atmos-enabled soundbar and use an HDMI cable (on Amazon) to attach the soundbar to your TV.
According to Dolby, to achieve the best possible audio quality, users must ensure that the final device in the chain is responsible for the audio decoding. In other words, you must always aim to connect your source devices with the MAT encoder directly to the audio system.
In addition, you must use the HDMI 1.3 or higher connector between the source and the receiver responsible for encoding and decoding TrueHD signals using Dolby MAT.
Note that the TrueHD bitstream will be encapsulated in MAT frames while the decoding will happen at the AV receiver end.