Do 4K Blu-Rays Have Better Sound Quality?

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Generally speaking there is hesitancy to invest in the new 4K Blu-Ray Format.

It costs significantly more than a standard Blu-Ray Disc and that price increase is hard for most people to justify.

Many proponents of 4k Blu-Ray tout the stunning imagery of 4k resolution as well as the benefits of a wider color gamut through HDR (High Dynamic Range).

However, perhaps one of the most common claims to invest in these discs is that they have better sound quality compared to standard Blu-Ray discs.

So, do 4K Blu Rays actually have better sound quality?

4K Blu-Ray Discs have better sound quality because they have access to more advanced audio formats such as Dolby Atmos and DTS:X.

Atmos is not exclusive to 4k but studios are making it more exclusive and only providing it with the 4k edition of the disc to drum up sales.

In this blog post I will further explain why 4K Blu-Rays often have better sound quality as well as why you should invest in the format over standard Blu-Ray.

I will also introduce you to some of the best 4K Blu Rays on the market in terms of sound.

4K Blu-Ray has the best sound quality on the market


There is no better way to listen to a movie than with 4K Blu-Ray.

You get less compressed and lossless audio that you can not get with streaming as well as access to higher fidelity audio formats like DTS:X and Dolby Atmos.

Both of which are not available on Blu-Ray the vast majority of the time

There is no other way to get this level of high-quality audio at such a low price, you would have to invest in Kaleidescape, which is prohibitively expensive.

With 4K Blu-Ray, you are not reliant on internet speeds or bandwidth requirements.

You don’t even need an internet connection to play movies.

Streaming is often at the mercy of these two factors and standard Blu-Ray simply can’t play these audio formats.

There are so many incredible 4k Blu-Ray Discs with amazing audio. Here are just a few.

Mad Max: Fury Road 4K Blu Ray
  • Vibrant Colors with HDR 10
  • Great Movie to give your speakers/soundbar a workout
Top Gun Maverick [4K UHD]
  • Reference quality atmos track

  • Good use of height channels

  • Stunning contrast
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Studios are bundling 4K Blu-Ray with Dolby Atmos

4K Blu-Rays are a lot more likely to have Dolby Atmos than traditional Blu-Ray discs, in fact, it is pretty standard for any big-budget Hollywood blockbuster to have Atmos come with the 4K version.

Traditional Blu-Ray often comes in DTS: HD Master Audio 5.1 but every now and then there will be a Blu-Ray release that does have Atmos.

Just looking through my collection I was able to find my Blu-Ray disc of Ready Player One (paid link) that comes with Dolby Atmos.

Phenomenal Atmos
Ready Player One 4K Ultra HD
  • Might have the best Atmos Sequence I've ever heard (racing scene)
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As you can see on the bottom right corner of the back of the disc it says it comes with Dolby Atmos.


However, studios are becoming less and less likely to release standard Blu-Ray discs with Atmos because they have realized that they can increase their sales by only offering the audio format on 4k Blu-Ray.

There are studios like Disney as well as others who are making Dolby Atmos soundtracks 100% exclusive to the 4k Blu-Ray format.

For example, I looked at one of my newer Blu-Ray Discs from 20th Century Studios (Disney-owned) called The Menu (paid link) and noticed it had the standard DTS: HD master audio and not Atmos or DTS:X.

It also comes with Dolby Digital 5.1 in French or Spanish.


This film was very popular and made $80 million at the box office so one would think it would come with a premium audio format but no it does not.

A film that was released earlier in the year called “The Northman” which made less money than The Menu but was released in 4K however has a Dolby Atmos mix included with the disc.

Best Black Levels
The Northman - 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Top Notch Black Levels
  • Stunning Dolby Vision HDR
  • Great Dolby Atmos Mix
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There are numerous examples to list that show studios prioritize packaging higher quality audio with 4k Blu-Ray.

Another example is the film “Ex Machina” (paid link) which was a small movie made by the Studio A24, this film got a 4k release and comes with DTS:X audio.

Films with longer run times are also much less likely to have Atmos if it’s not in 4k.

This is because traditional Blu Ray discs can hold less data on them than 4k.

So they don’t have enough file size on the discs so they go with an audio format that is not Atmos.

So if you are hoping that the newest blockbuster will be getting an Atmos release on standard Blu Ray the film will need to be under 2 and a half hours most likely.

Is Dolby Atmos that much better than DTS: HD


Dolby Atmos is a phenomenal sound format but most homes do not have the compatible equipment needed to play it.

A lot of the new speakers and soundbars today are Dolby Atmos compatible but they can get very expensive and may not make sense for your living situation.

For example, I live in a condo and have avoided traditional Atmos because they have upward-firing speakers that will hit the ceiling, of which I don’t want because I have neighbors directly above me.

To combat this you could get ceiling speakers which transmit the sound from above but you would have to put holes in your ceiling.

If you do decide to invest in an Atmos system then 4K will give you great audio but DTS: HD is still a very good format.

DTS: HD is good for any setup that is 7.1 (7 speakers, and 1 subwoofer) or below, if you have more speakers than that then investing in Atmos makes more sense.

Atmos is very expensive

To play Atmos you’ll need a compatible Blu-ray player (likely 4k Blu-Ray player), disc, TV, and obviously sound equipment.

This could amount to anywhere from 3-5k if you include the cost of your TV.

If you want Atmos it’s best to just go all in on 4k as those devices are much more likely to be properly compatible with this audio format.

How does 4k Blu-Ray sound quality compare to streaming?

Audio is much more compressed when listening through streaming compared to disc.

Streaming is not a lossless format.

Streaming services have to preserve bandwidth so they are not able to play a lossless version of say Dolby Atmos.

Streaming services usually deliver Dolby Digital Plus in a compressed format, not Dolby True HD or Atmos.

Any audio format provided by Blu-Ray is a lossless audio format and will be noticeably better than streaming.

This is a big reason 4K Blu-Ray continues to sell, I wrote an article that goes more in-depth regarding how 4K Blu Ray will not die anytime soon, you can find that by clicking on this link.


Although more advanced audio formats should not be exclusive to 4k the bottom line is that they are.

Studios are gatekeeping and not allowing these formats on standard Blu Ray so I think the best course of action is just to go with 4k Blu Ray as you will get better sound quality.

There are still Atmos disc’s that are not 4k so always be on the lookout for them, however, if it’s a Disney release don’t even bother.

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