Vizio Has A Wacky Idea For Futuristic Dolby Atmos Soundbars

Photo: Mike Damanskis, Gizmodo

One of the most exciting innovations for home entertainment is Dolby Atmos. The technology adds an element of height to the audio coming out of your sound system, and the effect is honestly game-changing. Vizio has a wacky idea about how to make Atmos even better. What if your soundbar could do Atmos at will? Or, more specifically, what if your soundbar could swivel like a sassy robot and adjust itself to whatever you’re watching?

That’s exactly what a new concept soundbar from Vizio can do. It looks like any other soundbar in that it’s long and obviously contains speakers. However, what makes this concept especially interesting is what could be described as handles on either end. There are drivers in there, and the entire module rotates based on the experience you want. If you want the height that Dolby Atmos offers, those handles can point up at the ceiling. If you’re a purist and want a more direct delivery, the drivers can point straight ahead.

Vizio gave us a demo of the concept soundbar at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas, and the effect was enlightening. When engaged in Atmos mode, the soundbar bounced music off the ceiling as you’d typically expect from a top-firing speaker. This is a fantastic effect if you’re watching an Atmos-mixed movie and want to feel the sound all around you. But for certain content, like a smooth jazz track, that effect doesn’t make as much sense. So the drivers on the Vizio soundbar rotated and sent the music straight forward.

It’s hard to say how valuable a feature like this would be for the average audio enthusiast. Vizio did say that it had audiophiles in mind when designing this system, although, the most casual TV-watcher will appreciate the difference between Atmos sound and the traditional mode. Vizio also has a curious role to play in the ecosystem since it currently offers the cheapest Atmos soundbar available. What’s especially interesting about Vizio’s concept, however, is the idea that home audio hardware can be responsive and dynamic. It’s intriguing that we might soon have speakers that move and adjust according to the input. It’s fun to see, too.

Vizio won’t say if or when this soundbar concept could become a reality. It might just be a parlor trick that illustrates the difference between Atmos sound, which adds height, and regular audio, which is regular. It’s a cool trick nevertheless.

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